Chetan Hira, owner of Artistic Iron in Westminster, Colorado, says most customers want an additional exterior door for one of two reasons. “They’re worried about people breaking in or, if they’re not worried about security, they want to allow fresh air and ventilation but still have a locked front door.”
First, find a door specialist. Look for a company that will walk you through the process, from initial consultation to post-installation. Get recommendations from friends and neighbors, read reviews, and confirm the business is licensed, bonded, and insured, says Joe LeVecchi, co-owner of Exterior Medics, an exterior remodeling company in Springfield, Virginia.
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Typically, a company will come to your home, assess your needs, show you options for colors and styles, take measurements, and price the door and fitment. Take your time during the interview to make sure you get what you want.
Ask if the company will do the installation or outsource it to subcontractors. And make sure you identify whether the doors are made in-house or elsewhere. If it’s the latter, ask where. “Because we specialize in installation, we work with external manufacturers. But all of our doors are made in the USA. So if something goes wrong, we can replace it immediately,” says LeVecchi.
Consider these factors as well to find the door that best suits your needs.
Customized or off the shelf. Hira says a custom door is built within 1/16 inch of your doorway. Standard models, on the other hand, come in about three or four sizes; Installers optimize the door to fit the door frame.
Steel vs Aluminum. Although you can find aluminum and steel frame options at hardware stores, all custom doors are steel-based. Experts say steel is the way to go, especially for a security door. In high-salinity climates, however, aluminum has an advantage because it doesn’t rust, says Paula McKain, sales manager for First Impression Ironworks in Gilbert, Arizona. Steel grades are measured in thickness. The smaller the gauge, the thicker the steel, making 22 gauge easier to bend or dent. Look for 14- to 16-gauge hollow tubing for the main door components and around 11-gauge tubing for the frame, Hira says. (Solid steel bars would make the door so heavy that you couldn’t open or close it easily.)
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Hardware. Custom doors come with branded hardware, including locks and handle sets, which can make finding replacement parts easier. Also ask what type of hinges are used; For example, a barrel hinge is more stable and can carry more weight than an H-hinge.
Finished. Almost all security doors are powder coated instead of painted. According to McKain, manufacturers clean the steel, hang it on a rack, spray on a powdered substance (the spray comes in a variety of colors), and then bake the door to harden it and harden the surface. “Powder coating is incredibly durable, weather resistant, and better than paint,” she says. When used properly, the powder coating should last around 15 to 20 years.
Costs. Door prices vary based on where you live, upgrades like bows or digital locks, and whether there are ironworkers nearby or whether the doors need mailing. Conclusion: the higher the quality and the more complicated the design, the higher the price. A simple, lightweight aluminum privacy storm door from a hardware store can be found for as little as $300 or less; A standard size steel version would cost around $400-$500. These doors don’t include any hardware or plumbing, so budget at least another $250 to $350. Since security doors contain more steel, expect to pay more for one. A standard model costs around $600 to $1,000. A custom one customized for your home can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. Yes, that’s a higher price tag, but custom doors purchased from a specialist usually include installation.
minutiae. Small things can make a big difference. For example, for the clips that attach the glass or a divider to the door, you want metal. Over time, plastics become brittle and can break. Some fabricators omit clips altogether and use removable screws to attach the panels. Also pay attention to weather protection. Thin stripping will result in a poor seal, so make sure your installer uses a product thick enough to keep cold or heat out. McKain says that in places of intense heat, such as For example, in Arizona, a vinyl coated weatherstrip is preferred over foam because it is less likely to degrade.
Guarantee. Hira, whose company not only manufactures in-house but also powder-coats, says a good door warranty from the manufacturer and/or installer should cover at least five years against anything breaking or structural defects. Moving parts such as handles and locks should be covered by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. You may also want to ask for a surface guarantee in case it flakes or peels.
Maintenance. A well constructed door does not require much maintenance. Once a year you should lubricate the hinges. Spray a product like WD-40 on a soft cloth and wipe off.
Denver-based author Laura Daily specializes in consumer protection and travel strategies. Find them under dailywriter.net.