An exterior door is an entry door or front door to a house or an apartment. Exterior doors are almost always made of steel, i.e. Exterior Steel Doors.
Exterior steel doors have upside and downside.
An exterior steel door is more expensive than doors that were made of other lighter materials.
The exterior steel door is more durable where it can stand against most fierce weather and protect against condensation or drafts. Steel external doors have higher endurance when coming up on regular heating and cooling.
Steel Door as A Front Door
Why would you use a steel door as your front / entry door?
As a front door, steel doors are easy to install, if you’ve chosen pre-drilled door knob and lockset hole.
The front door often is exposed to the weather including heat and rain. Steel doors have more insulating value than wooden doors or doors made of other materials because they often have tighter fitting frames or energy efficient core insulation.
Some steel doors come with double or triple panel insulating glass. This reduces heat transfer from outside to your house which is good for summer weather.
Steel doors withstand better with harsh weather, and are highly resistant to shrinking, swelling or warping. This leads to lower maintenance cost.
The materials on steel doors made them more durable than most other doors.
You want your front door to look good. Most front doors come pre-primed and ready to paint.
Steel doors at a store, especially when the door is an entry door – The one main purpose of a commercial steel door is to prevent a store from theft. The exterior steel door is the store’s first line of protection. The store is often facing a busy street with pedestrians walking past without any other protection before the entry door. The common option is to install a steel front door.
For residential houses or apartments, having a strong steel exterior door as the home’s front door ensures safety of families in their everyday’s lives.
Steel Doors vs. Wooden Doors
Wooden doors usually are thicker and more intricate, and must be installed in a more protected and shaded area.
In terms of appearance, any wooden door may look heavy and sturdy. It may even look traditional. But wooden doors can be painted or stained for a natural look.
Depending on the types of materials, some wooden doors can be inexpensive, but others may be costly.
Steel Doors vs. Fiberglass Doors
Fiberglass doors are easy to install, and can be made with grain texture to make them appear like wooden doors.
A fiberglass door works well in many extreme climates, and usually gets the longest warranties compared to a steel door.
High resistance to scratches and dents are good quality of fiberglass doors.
Exterior Doors vs. Interior Doors
Whether a door is exterior or interior, the main and the most frequently used function of a door is to open and close. This “open and close” function allows a door to separate different environments and provides entries into a new environment.
Exterior doors and interior doors do function differently.
Steel as the main material suits well for an exterior door. Sometimes in special cases, exterior doors are made of metal. This makes exterior doors more expensive than interior doors.
Exterior doors must be capable of resisting weather abuse, including heat, rain, storm and snow. They should be more durable, and are often covered with a thick face or veneer layer. This layer is glazing which may be double or triple to provide additional protection.
Security reasons aren’t main concerns for interior doors. They are usually not made of metal or heavy materials, but are made of a single material such as wood or fiberboard.
Interior doors are usually hollow inside without insulation, and aren’t weather proof or soundproof.
On appearance, interior doors do have more decorative design than exterior doors. Most interior doors are made with double sided aesthetic decorations.
Steel Door Problems
Do Steel Doors have problems. Yes, they do.
Doors made in steel are vulnerable to thermal bow.
Thermal bow is mainly caused by extremely different temperatures on two sides of the door’s opening. An exterior steel door always has one side of the opening facing the outside environment, and it may be facing the heat of the sunlight. This exterior face may be exposed in excessive heat for some 8-12 hours during any day.
Under this over-heat, the top and bottom of the lock edge of the steel door begin to distort, towards or away from the frame stop. The thermal bow can go worse when the temperature gradient between the two faces of the door gets larger.
As the steel door distorts, door clearances start to decrease, and the door opening will function poorly or won’t function at all. You will start seeing the misalignment between the steel door and the lock jamb causing the hardware to latch and unlatch. This may even cause the lock to bind.
Common sense should tell you that a door opening facing sun exposure from the east is susceptible to thermal bow in the morning, and from the west gets over-heated in the afternoon.
Can you prevent a steel door opening from thermal bow damage? Yes.
Paint the steel door in light color, not black, not brown, and for example white will do. Light colors reduce the door’s heat absorption.
An alternative option is to install awnings over doorways to prevent sun exposure.
Also, installing flexible gaskets (for example kerf weather stripping) will help the frame to absorb the door movement.
Glossary of Steel Doors
Brickmould: Molding is used around a door or window. The brickmoud fills the gap between where the door and the wall are supposed to meet.
Caming: Also known as doorglass finishes. They are strips (or metal work) for joining segmented glass.
Deadbolts (or deadbolt locks): A deadbolt lock provides additional security for entry.
Divided lite: Panes of glass that are divided. A divided lite window has many panes of glass that are separated by muntins or grilles.
Door knocker: You may usually find a door knocker on a larger door. The main function of a door knocker is to give a door a more elegant appearance. Door knockers can be made of brass, bronze or satin nickel, and they come with many different designs.
Door viewer: It’s also known as peephole or eye hole. When your door doesn’t have a window on it, you cannot see who’s knocking from the outside. Installing a door viewer takes only 15 minutes and is a great solution. On all types of doors including wood, steel, fiberglass or a composite material, you can install a door viewer. Peepholes (or door viewers) are inexpensive.
Doorbell: It’s a button that can be installed on the wall outside your house.
Front door with sidelites: A sidelite (or sidelight) is a narrow and stationary part that flanks a door. It can appear on one or either side of the door where this door is usually an entry door of a house. Some sidelites can be found immediately adjacent doorways.
Glass shapes: Glass comes in several shapes. Sometimes it’s a single large lite. Other times it may have a grille that separates the glass into several lites.
Glass styles: Some doors come with decorative glass such as insulated glass for energy efficiency, beveled glass, silk-screened glass or stained glass.
Grille: It’s the decorative part of doors. Grille can be plastic, wooden or metal details appear on divided lites.
Handleset: Usually a handleset is a package that consists of lock cylinder, latch, strike plate, handle, and lever (or knob). Both exterior and interior doors have their own handlesets.
Inswing door: An inswing door is a door that opens inward.
In-glass blinds: A glass pane of a door can have adjustable blinds placed on it. The blinds usually is placed on the inside of the door.
Kick plate: A kick plate is usually a metal plate that is built on to the bottom of the door. The meta kick plate protects the door’s finish from unintentional damages, or shoe scuff marks.
Left hand door: You’ll find two types of left hand door that are slightly different to one another. The left hand door is an inswing door with hinges on the left. It may also be an outswing door with hinges on the right. The hinge placement perspective is when you look at the door from the outside of a house.
Lite: A pane of glass built in a door.
Outswing door: An outswing door is a door that opens outward.
Panels: Panels are sometimes just known as rail and stile. The vertical parts of the frame are stiles. The horizontal parts are rails. Panels form the decorative part of doors. Panels form the visual face of doors. The 6-panel design is always classic.
Prehung door: It’s a complete set. The prehung door is design to be ready for installation which comes with a door slab, hinges and outer frame. The outer frame will always fit into a prepared doorway.
Right hand door: You’ll find two types of right hand door that are slightly different to one another. The right hand door is an inswing door with hinges on the right. It may also be an outswing door with hinges on the left. The hinge placement perspective is when you look at the door from the outside of a house.
Single door with sidelites: See Front Door with Sidelites.
Slab door: It’s not a complete set of door. A slab door is only a rectangular slab of wood, composite or steel where it doesn’t come with hinges or other parts of a complete door.
Transoms: Transoms are usually in one of the three shapes: arch, ellipse and box. They appear above doors, and are for decorative purposes.