Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
EXTERIORS of buildings
ADHESIVES, EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
ALGAE, FUNGUS, LICHENS, MOSS
ANIMAL ENTRY POINTS in buildings
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
BASEMENT WALKOUTS & COVERS
BRICK VENEER WALL Loose, Bulged
BRICK WALL DRAINAGE WEEP HOLES
BOOKSTORE - EXTERIORS
CAULKS & SEALANTS, EXTERIOR
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
DECK & PORCH CONSTRUCTION
DECK FINISHES COATINGS PRESERVATIVES
DRYWELLS, FRENCH DRAINS for FLAT SITES
EIFS & STUCCO EXTERIORS
EXTERIOR WALL SIDING TRIM & FINISHES
EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING STAINS
FLASHING ROOF-WALL SNAFU
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GLUES ADHESIVES, EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS
HOUSEWRAP / SHEATHING WRAP
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
LOG HOME GUIDE
PAINT & STAIN GUIDE, EXTERIOR
PAINT FALURE, DIAGNOSIS, CURE, PREVENTION
PORCHES & Sunrooms
PORCH CONSTRUCTION & SCREENING
RAILINGS, DECK & PORCH
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROT RESISTANT LUMBER
SHEATHING, GYPSUM BOARD
FIBERBOARD SHEATHING, Celotex Homasote & Other
SHEATHING, FOIL FACED - VENTS
SIDING TYPES, INSTALLATION, DEFECTS
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
STONE CLEANING METHODS
STONE VENEER WALLS
STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION
SURFACE GRADING, SITE DRAINAGE
Thermal Expansion Cracking of Brick
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRIM, EXTERIOR CHOICES, INSTALLATION
VINYL Siding or Window PLASTIC ODORS
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in buildings
WINDOWS & DOORS
How to install exterior doors: this article discusses the selection and installation of exterior doors, including the types of doors, how doors are constructed, door energy efficiency, and flashing and sealing doors to avoid air and water leaks.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.In this article series we discuss the selection and installation of windows and doors, following best construction and design practices for building lighting and ventilation, with attention to the impact on building heating and cooling costs, indoor air quality, and comfort of occupants.
We review the proper installation details for windows and doors, and we compare the durability of different window and door materials and types. This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.
See WINDOWS & DOORS our home page for window and door information, and also see WINDOW TYPES - Photo Guide for a photographic guide to window and door types and architectural styles. Ourlinks listed at Related Topics provide in-depth articles on window and door selection, inspection, installation, problem diagnosis, and repair.
Our photograph (above left-DJF) illustrates a fiberglass exterior door during installation. Pre-hung doors make the door installation more rapid and often more accurate, but nevertheless it is important to assure that the door jamb, when set into the opening, is properly secured plumb and square and with proper clearances. Making the doorway rough opening as square as you can makes for a better time installing the door assembly. The finished, installed door is shown later in this article. Photo courtesy Eric Galow, Galow Homes.
What Exit Doors are Required on Residential buildings?
Using the Residential Building Code of New York State for an example,
While some entry doors are well-protected from the elements by porches or recessed entries, many face harsh weather exposures in addition to the usual bumps and bruises from children, furniture movers, and others.
In addition, doors must resist warping, shrinking, and swelling across a wide range of temperatures and moisture conditions in order to close tightly and to operate smoothly—all in all, a tall order met with an increasing degree of sophistication by manufacturers.
For new construction, most entry doors are purchased pre hung as an “entry system,” which, in addition to the frame, hardware, weather-seals, and any sidelites, may also include integrated security systems, lighting, and keyless entry systems.
Note: Interior doors are covered under “Interior Finish,” starting on page 186 in the Best Construction text.
While solid-wood entry doors can last for decades and grace the fronts of many older homes, they are rapidly giving way to a host of hybrid and composite products, some of which are difficult to categorize. While most budget-oriented projects use steel-faced doors, fiberglass and composite doors are the fastest growing market segment, promising greater durability at a price still well below solid wood.
Exterior doors are typically classified by their facing material, but their performance and durability is more a function of their internal construction (Table 3-7).
[Click to enlarge any image or table]
A few larger exterior door manufacturers, such as Jeld-Wen and Kolbe and Kolbe Millworks, still manufacture stock designs in solid wood, but many who have stayed in the business are niche suppliers of high-end custom doors in an endless variety of wood species, shapes, and styles from Shaker simplicity to 14-foot castle doors (see Window & Door Sources).
Our photo (left) shows a blue-painted solid core exterior door that was installed circa 1967 on a New York home. Photo courtesy Galow Homes. On traditional homes a raised panel solid wood exterior door has been used for more than 100 years. The door needs to be kept painted and sealed or protected from the weather by an entrance roof.
To improve strength and stability in wood doors, Kolbe and Kolbe uses laminated-veneer lumber (LVL) for locking rails, and custom door makers Lamson-Taylor and Simpson build up their rails, stiles, and panels from two or more layers of wood.
Lamson-Taylor laminates foam insulation between two solid wood faces to create a unique insulated wood door that the company says is immune to problems with temperature and humidity differences across the door.
To keep costs down and improve stability, many manufacturers offer simulated panel doors with a real wood veneer over an engineered wood core. These are sturdy and offer good value, but the veneered face is more vulnerable to damage than a solid wood model.
If well maintained and periodically repainted or stained, a high-quality wood door can last indefinitely. However, they are best suited to temperate climates and should be protected from direct weather exposure with a suitable overhang or inset.
A premium residential steel door has a 24-gauge or heavier galvanized steel skin over a wood or steel frame filled with foam insulation. This creates an extremely strong and durable product with an effective insulation rating of about R-8 for polyurethane insulation versus about R-5 for polystyrene.
Our photo (left) shows a steel exterior door retrofit to a 1920's home in Poughkeepsie, NY, adding security and weather-resistance to the structure.
Most steel and other hollow-core doors contain a wood or composite lock-block for mounting the lockset, and may use wood, engineered lumber, or steel for the stiles and rails.
Bottom rails, which get the greatest exposure to water, are sometimes made of waterproof composites.
Steel is the strongest edge material but requires a thermal break to prevent condensation around the door’s interior perimeter.
Wood forms a natural thermal break, but it is prone to decay along the door bottom if not kept well painted (Figure 3-23).
Here is a closeup photo of a rotted bottom rail in a vinyl-covered storm door -DF.
Watch out: Our photo (left) shows a rust-damaged exterior door that was exposed to weather and not maintained. The door frame and trim at this opening were also rotted. Unused, the building owner didn't notice this deterioration until the door, jamb, and trim all needed to be replaced. Here is a closeup photo of the rusted door bottom.
Most steel doors come embossed with a wood-grain pattern and preprimed with a baked-on polyester finish, although smooth metal finishes are also available.
For better protection, some manufacturers apply a vinyl coating with wood grain, which can be stained with a high solids stain. The vinyl is fairly durable, but deep scratches are difficult to conceal. For a more realistic wood look, some manufacturers apply a stainable wood-fiber finish. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations regarding prep work and finishing.
In general, premium steel doors are very strong and durable, although they require regular painting and over time will likely acquire a dent or two. Rust is generally not a problem with galvanized or stainless-steel facings, but condensation can damage finishes on doors without thermal breaks.
The fiberglass facing is typically embossed with a stainable wood grain, but is also available with a smooth finish that when painted is hard to distinguish from a painted wood door. Fiberglass doors generally price midway between a steel and wood door and carry long-term warranties.
Fiberglass, while not as strong as steel, is very durable, stable, and energy-efficient. It will not warp, crack, or swell like wood and will not dent like steel, making it a good choice in harsh weather exposures.
While fiberglass can be gouged or cracked if hit hard enough, repairs are no more difficult than for steel doors. Scratches, however, are difficult to sand out without destroying the wood-grain pattern on embossed panels.
Our fiberglass exterior door photo (left) is installed on a home in New York. We plan to construct an entry roof to further protect the door from the weather. Photo courtesy Eric Galow, Galow Homes.
A new breed of engineered wood doors are built of a variety of engineered wood materials, including laminated-veneer lumber (LVL), exterior-grade medium-density-fiberboard (MDF), and exterior-grade particleboard. Some are built with an engineered-wood skin over a foam or particleboard core, while others are milled from a single slab of MDF. Most come with either smooth or embossed wood-grain finishes ready to paint or stain.
Composite doors tend to price between steel and fiberglass and carry warranties up to 10 years. While many wood composites have established a good track record in exterior use, others, such as hardboard, have had problems with swelling and delamination if exposed to the weather and not protected by a good coat of paint.
As with real
wood, it would be prudent to use these products in a sheltered
entryway and keep them well painted. Until long term
durability has been established, their use remains an
-- Adapted and paraphrased, edited, and supplemented, with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Check the FAQs just above, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.