Your front door is one of the first things a visitor sees and remembers and it can make a great first impression. As well as introducing your personal style to the front of your home you can use a replacement door to improve home security, energy conservation, reduce noise and increase natural light.
Planning Your New Front Door
When designing your new front door entrance, you have the choice whether to complement the style of the property or create a contrast. Materials, door design, fixtures, fittings, glazing and finish all play their part in your decision.
Generally, the simplest advice is to complement the existing property style. A grand Victorian style front door, finished in a bold colour, might look great in a nineteenth or early twentieth-century property but the same door would probably not look as good if fitted to a property built in the nineteen sixties or seventies.
Choosing to contrast rather than complement is harder but when carried out sensitively, it can look amazing. Find an experienced front door supplier you can trust offers a good design service and they will help you achieve the perfect balance.
Making An Entrance
Replacing a front door is a good time to consider related home improvements. If the front entrance has a porch, there may be the opportunity for an inner and an outer door, giving you a space to store coats, umbrellas or shoes and separating the living area from the entrance – this can not only be a great storage addition to the home, it is likely to further enhance security and energy saving too.
Where a front door is recessed, moving it forward, flush with the front of the house can create a bigger hallway space and the opportunity to plan flooring, levels and the front door step. Consider whether the way that the door opens left or right is best for you, do you need to swap to a left-handed or right-handed door?
The latest doors offer a range of materials, style and colours that complement both period and modern homes as well as delivering low maintenance, better security, improved insulation and reduced energy bills. There are a lot of options, so it will help if you make a sketch as the basis for a discussion with your door supplier. Take some photographs of what is currently in place to provide a useful reference.
Replacing a front door doesn’t need planning permission unless your home is a listed building or in a conservation area. If your property is leasehold, you may need to check with the freeholder or management company before making the upgrade.
Front Door Materials
You may be surprised at the huge variety of choices of colours available for UPVC and composite doors as often only the most standard colours choices are advertised. If you ask a good installer for a custom colour and finish and they will probably be able to supply within a short period. The production and installation have improved immensely in recent years offering a variety of finishes, excellent security, low maintenance together with sound and heat insulation.
Composite doors can offer remarkably authentic looking wooden finishes which need virtually zero maintenance and will never need painting. Composite doors combine advantages of both solid wood and UPVC and are highly customisable in all aspects of their design. They have become an established choice offering a strong structure achieved by combining different materials. A composite door is very durable, will not warp or rot and is very resistant to forced entry.
Solid timber doors are traditional. However, they do not give the same security or insulation which composites and uPVC offer. Older varnished wooden doors may no longer be the best choice if the door is facing south with exposure to a harsh sun. Traditional wood doors can be painted or varnished however they are susceptible to warping letting in draughts and sticking in wet weather. You should expect timber doors appearance to deteriorate over time and you will need to maintain them.
Rain, sunshine, prevailing wind are considerations when you are thinking about a replacement front door; the weather affects choice of material, maintenance and likely serviceable life of the door. If the property faces the direction from which heavy rain is driven, choose a high-quality front door and frame with excellent door seals.
An experienced door installation professional should be able to give you some good door ideas and detail for your situation.
If the design of your front door includes glass, your glazing choice can completely change the whole look and feel of the front entrance. There is every kind of clear, tinted, frosted and patterned glass available in single, double-glazed and triple-glazed formats.
You may also be able to make a statement with a transom light (which is name given to a glazing panel above a front door), use a clear glass rectangle, fan shape or add a pattern or house number. On a wide entrance you can also add a thin vertical sidelight window next to the door. Consider balancing factors such as the natural light gained from clear glass with the look and privacy from patterned or obscured glazing.
If your door is north-facing this gives the opportunity to counter the lower natural light and including a larger glazing area in your design with double glazing for thermal efficiency. If you have suffered from condensation, the Energy Savings Trust advises that energy efficient glazing reduces condensation build up on the inside.
Check that your new front door meets the latest minimum British Standards in respect of all aspects of glass including the security, the thermal ability, the safety qualities such as the characteristics of the force required to break the glass and the nature of how it breaks.
Glazing adds a whole new dimension to custom designing your front door with almost all things possible so make glazing an important part of your planning process.
Handles And Hinges
A good door supplier will give you a choice of fixtures and fittings with the choice again being to either complement or make a contrast. Ask your installer for help on the best options – there are thousands available.
You might choose to remove some of the usual fixtures and fittings from the door itself. You can site a doorbell off the door frame to have a cleaner look. You can decide that the letterbox does not have to be part of the door, for example, if the house has a dog, you could have a post box outside the door. You can decide whether you want a larger door handle on a plain door and individually select the details such as door hinges, draught strips, locks etc. With the wide range of door furniture available today, you don’t need to compromise on design, there is something for every situation.
There have been huge advances in door security in recent years and it is almost certain that a good quality new front door will improve your home and your family’s sense of well being. The improvements are supported by the government’s Building Regulations Document Q which specifies security standards for doors (and windows): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/security-in-dwellings-approved-document-q
As a minimum you should expect doors meeting or exceeding British Standard PAS24 and your insurance company will specify that locks conform to British Standard 3621. Any good door supplier or installer should be pleased to be asked about the specifications of the locks they use, and how security is built into their design.
The top front door installers offer extra levels of security to give you a door which is as near to burglar-proof as possible. Remember that even a strong door is only as good as the strength of the frame and the quality of the installation into the property. A good front door can unobtrusively fortify your home with features such as multi-point locks – these give great peace of mind as you hear the bolts invisibly sliding shut at the sides, top and bottom of the door.
You can replace the traditional spy hole with a front door security camera and a smartphone app, so you can see who is knocking on your door any time of the day or night, even when you are not home. Adding a front porch light with passive infra red (PIR) sensors can welcome you or your visitors to your home. For security purposes, a good installer will place the light close to the vertical plane of the front door ensuring that visitor’s faces are lit from the front and side, not from behind, to avoid casting their faces into shadow.
Energy Efficiency And Conservation
A good front door will contribute significantly to heat retention in your house. The effectiveness of insulation around the rest of your house and double glazing will be compromised if the front door is draughty or not adequately insulated.
As part of the UK government’s commitment to improving energy efficiency all doors are required to meet performance standards and are awarded a specific ‘U’ value and rated from ‘E’ to ‘A++’ based on the materials chosen for the frame and the glazing. The UK government authorised competent person FENSA scheme advises a higher the energy rating on a window or door to save money on heating bills. The Energy Savings Trust, the UK’s independent authority, advises that a double-glazed property will typically cut £115 from your annual energy bill. To take advantage of the saving check that the front door is at least the same energy rating as the double glazing.
Thermal efficiency is not just about keeping your house warm in winter – your home will be cooler in summer with a well-insulated modern front door, saving you energy bills all year round. You may also find that a new door can reduce noise which may be particularly useful if you are near road traffic.
Thermally efficient doors make your home more comfortable at a lower environmental and economic cost. Many manufacturers are showing concern in respect of the environmental impact of their production methods and good ones won’t mind you asking what they are doing to help reduce their carbon footprint.
A good quality front door is an investment and you usually get what you pay for. Over the many years of your ownership there will be a significant return on the initial cost. A front door which is initially cheap will need to make savings using lower quality materials, manufacture or installation which may affect structure, insulation and security.
A well-designed front door installation will provide an effective barrier to the extremes of cold and heat, draughts and leaks, and will reduce your power bills. There may also be modest savings in terms of the need for less artificial lighting, better cooling and maintenance.
It is worth discussing your options and design with an expert door installer who will know about all the available styles, materials, security and installation issues and be able to feed back on the overall look for your property. After all, we’ve all seen properties where a second opinion could have potentially improved the design! And, should you ever choose to move, a smart front door and well-designed entrance can enhance the kerb side appeal of your home.
A Good Door Comes With A Guarantee
Look out for a robust, ten-year guarantee. Just as important is to review the supplier or installer and check they have a proven track record and comprehensive customer service reputation – Checkatrade is a good start where real customers rate their experience. Checking before you buy helps avoid problems in the first place and unwanted surprise costs in the future. It is also a worth checking if the door guarantee is transferable to anyone who buys your house.
Buying Your Front Door
Your front door will be the first thing visitors will see and it is likely to leave a lasting impression. It is safe to conclude that any modern replacement front door will be more energy efficient, more secure, more durable with low-maintenance and deliver a long useful problem free life. Whether period or modern, decorative or simple, over-sized or standard, with muted or bright colours – there has never been so much choice and opportunity to design the perfect combination of style and features. Take your time, take advice, extend your ideas regarding the possibilities and you will create a front door entrance that you can look at with pride for many years to come.