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Top 7 types of replacement doors: pros, cons, and how to maintain them

May 27th, 2021 | 9 min. read

Top 7 types of replacement doors: pros, cons, and how to maintain them

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Thinking of getting your door replaced but not sure of all that’s out there? Maybe you’ve driven around your block to see what your neighbors have but aren’t really sure if those styles are for you. 

Just like shopping for a car, there are a lot of options out there from what it’s made of to the overall design.

With many options available, it’s important to do your research and know what you want out of your door replacement project.

At Southwest Exteriors, we offer fiberglass entry doors, fiberglass, vinyl, and steel patio doors, and custom doors. We have become a trusted door replacement contractor in San Antonio for over 30 years. 

Although we do not offer every type of door listed below, we want you to be educated on the most popular options out there so you can make the best decision for yourself. 

In this article, we will review the top seven types of materials used for replacement doors and talk about their pros, cons, and maintenance required. 

After reading, you will have a better understanding of each type of door and be able to narrow down which doors you might be interested in for your replacement.

1. Steel 

When referencing a steel door, they are not made of solid steel. The door is made of a polyurethane or polystyrene core with a steel skin on top. 

A polyurethane core is an expanding foam that is injected and fills the hollow center of the door. 

A polystyrene core is a slab of foam that is inserted into the hollow center of the door. Both are insulating materials, but polyurethane has the best insulation rating compared to polystyrene and other door cores.

Pros of steel doors

Steel doors are a strong and durable option for door replacements. A vinyl coating can be added on top for an extra protectant against weather elements.

Unlike other materials, steel does not bend or bow with the movement of your home or with changing weather.

Steel doors with a polystyrene core are fire-rated, or have a resistance to fire, for up to three hours.

Cons of steel doors

Because they are made of metal, steel doors are most susceptible to dents and scratches that can be extremely difficult to remove. 

If you live in a salty, humid area, the salt in the air can also cause the door to rust exponentially. 

How to care for steel doors

Steel requires very little maintenance. A simple clean with a gentle cleanser and warm water will do the trick.

It is important to use a soft rag to avoid possibly scratching the door.

2. Iron

Iron doors are becoming more popular to give a regal and elegant look to your home and come in many different designs with custom options. 

This is one of the most expensive types of doors and can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. However, iron doors are made to last a lifetime because of their durability and price.

Pros of iron doors

Because it is a heavy metal, iron doors are durable and resistant against harsh weather conditions, moisture, and rot and can also protect your home from intruders.

Combined with energy-efficient windows, iron doors can also help insulate your home so are a strong contender for areas with extreme heat or cold.

Cons of iron doors

Because it is a metal, there is a chance of rusting in iron. Most wrought-iron manufactured comes with a special coating to protect against rust, however. 

How to care for iron doors

Though they require little maintenance, you can clean your iron door with a vegetable-based soap, warm water, and rag then rinsed with a hose.

It is important to note that if any soap residue is left after cleaning, it can cause the iron to rust.

3. Aluminum

Aluminum doors are another sturdy metal used for door replacements. They are only ⅓ the weight of steel doors but still provide stability and protection. 

Pros of aluminum doors

Because of their proven strength and durability, aluminum doors can last nearly 30 years.

They are weather-resistant and can be customized in many ways. Just like steel, they will also not bend with the movement of your home due to changing hot and cold temperatures. 

Aluminum is a fairly inexpensive material for a door replacement costing around $500 for an average door.

Cons of aluminum doors

Because aluminum is a lighter material, it has a higher chance of being dented than a steel or iron door. 

Aluminum is less susceptible to rust than steel, however, salty air is the only exception to this. They can also be weakened under extremely high heat because of their high level of conductivity. 

A surface treatment can be added to fight against corrosion and add extra thermal insulation.

How to care for aluminum doors

Aluminum doors require little to no maintenance. Besides cleaning any excess dirt every few months, there is not much more you can do.

If you find a dent in your door, you can sand down the area and fill it in with a pre-made putty. For any scratches in the paint, you can use either automotive paint for glossy doors or acrylic paint for matte finishes.

If the scratch has reached the metal or the door has a bare finish, you can sand down the scratched area with a buffer until the scratch is not visible. For deeper scratches, a composite filler will need to be applied and sanded. 

4. Vinyl

Vinyl doors are a less expensive option for a door replacement and can be used for front doors as well as interior doors. 

They are made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a lightweight material making the installation process easier.

Pros of vinyl doors

Though not as durable as metal, they are low-risk for damage and do not come with the potential for rot or termite infestation like wood. 

Vinyl doors are typically hollow and filled with an insulating material making them a great insulator to survive the winter. 

With most vinyl doors, you can have a wood-like finish without all the extra maintenance and problems that come with wooden doors.

Cons of vinyl doors

Unplasticized PVC doors are made to resist UV rays whereas regular vinyl doors are not. Discoloration and fading can occur with long periods of UV exposure, and the surface of the door can become cracked.

Vinyl doors are also known to expand and contract as your home moves and the weather changes. This can cause cracking and splitting in the door. 

How to care for vinyl doors

Vinyl doors do not come with any problems of rot or insect infestation. They can be cleaned easily with any sort of soap and water and rinsed well. 

After years of wear, you may need to get your vinyl door repainted to keep it looking like new.

5. Fiberglass

Fiberglass doors are another affordable option like vinyl but more durable and long-lasting. 

Pros of fiberglass doors

They do not rust or rot like metal and wood doors and do not crack or warp with the weather or scratch. 

There are many design and custom options for fiberglass doors and are popularly made to mimic the look of wood. This is also a considered advantage for the appearance of fiberglass doors.

Fiberglass also has insulating properties to protect your home from outside temperatures. 

Cons of fiberglass doors

The biggest con of a fiberglass door is the price. It is one of the most expensive types of doors on the market because of its properties and can be more expensive than standard wooden doors. 

Fiberglass doors are also nearly impossible to trim down if they do not fit a standard door frame size. 

How to care for a fiberglass door

These doors require almost no maintenance. They may be susceptible to some fading from the sun, but that can be fixed by a simple touch-up in the stain. 

6. Wood

Wood doors have been around for centuries. They can give your home a certain warmth and style other doors simply cannot. 

Pros of wood doors

Wood doors are durable and have proven their longevity. Solid wood doors offer sturdy protection to your home and can even help with noise cancellation. 

The most popular types of wooden doors are pine, cedar, mahogany, fir, and oak. Some doors are made using thin wooden panels with an insulating material inside.

Along with the different options of wood for a door, they are also highly customizable in the type of stain and design you want. 

Wood doors are on the higher end of the price range costing anywhere from $500 to $4,000. 

Cons of wood doors

With anything wood, you are at risk for rot and insect infestation. Rot is caused by excess moisture trapped in the door, and termites or ants can find their way into any small crack or crevice in the door. 

Wood doors may also see some UV damage if exposed to the sun for long periods of the day, causing fading in the finish.

Wood is also a flexible material, so it will also expand and contract with changing weather.

How to care for a wood door

Wood doors require the highest amount of maintenance and upkeep simply because they are more susceptible to damage. 

A durable stain and finish, such as polyurethane, should be applied to the wood to help protect it from moisture.

Any small cracks or scratches are easy to repair and fill with a wood filler and new stain. 

Small areas of rot can be hardened and repaired, but larger amounts of rot may result in an entire door replacement. 

7. Glass

Glass doors have become highly popular for a modern look with a view. Though it is a more expensive option, it can be the best option for you depending on the aesthetic you are aiming for.

Pros of glass doors

One of the greatest advantages of having a glass door is the amount of natural light it brings in. 

It is important if you are considering a glass door that you know what type of glass is used. Because of the amount of natural light that comes in through a glass door, that also brings excess sun heat into your home.

Having a glass with a high solar heat gain coefficient and low UV percentage will help block UV rays and solar heat without blocking the light. These are all features to help keep your home cool. 

Cons of glass doors

If privacy is important to you, then a subtle lack of privacy would be a major con for you. Glass doors may seem like easier targets to burglars.

Depending on the strength of the glass, it may be easily breakable and may not be the best option if you are active in your yard or experience excess hail throughout the year.

How to care for glass doors

Maintenance for a glass door is easy as can be. Just use a simple glass cleaner to keep your door looking fresh. 

Routine checks of the sealing around the frame of the door are necessary to spot any damage or peeling that may need to be repaired.

Which door is best for me?

Choosing a replacement door can be overwhelming. When looking to replace your door, you must consider what your goals are for the project and what your budget is.

If privacy is more important to you, then an iron door may be a better option than glass. If you love the look of a wood door but don’t want to pay for the constant maintenance, then fiberglass is a great option. 

For the San Antonio home, a fiberglass composite entry door or vinyl sliding door is the best material to withstand the harsh southern climate. 

We offer a variety of materials for doors at Southwest Exteriors from fiberglass entry doors to steel or vinyl patio doors to custom, and we want you to be aware and educated on all of your options before committing to just any door.

Curious about how much it costs to replace your front door and what all goes into it? Check out this article that details what all goes into the cost of a door replacement, and leave us a comment if you have any questions.