Blog > Category Post > Posted: 2022-Oct-17, Updated: 2022-Oct-27

Entrance doors - Comparisons - Wood, Fibreglass, Metal

If you are in the market for a new residential exterior entrance door, there are three general types of materials available - wood, fibreglass and metal.

Although each material used in the manufacturing of a door has its own general set of pros and cons, some brands have developed solutions to address some of the more common negative characteristics. Be sure to learn how a brand provides solutions to specific general performance issues such as water damage, air seepage, warping and maintenance requirements.

Want a quick overview? What type of door is best for you? See our summary table at the bottom of this page.

Materials

Wood

Wood is the traditional exterior door choice, that provides a natural uniqueness. With choices of solid wood or veneer made from maple, oak, mahogany, fir, and pine there's a broad range of styles and range in costs. As a natural product, it's difficult to know what a door will look like years down the road, especially if the door is exposed to the extreme hot, cold and moisture that we are so used to in the Ottawa area.

Potential issues - may include sagging, warping, and paint peeling.  A wood door will typically require more maintenance than a fibreglass or metal door.

Metal

Metal entry doors are typically less expensive than wood or fibreglass doors. They require little maintenance and are available in many beautiful styles, and can be painted in just about any colour (standard and custom).

Potential issues - although metal doors are durable, strong and typically will not warp, they are prone to rust and dents.

Fibreglass

Fibreglass doors are exceptionally durable and able to withstand extreme weather, they resist dents, rot, rust, and warping and are energy efficient. They are more expensive than most steel doors but usually less expensive than wood. The properties of fibreglass enable wood-like textures, colours and finishes that look real, but unlike wood require little maintenance.

Potential issues - the only real disadvantage of a fibreglass door is that under certain conditions the colour can fade.

Appearance & Customization

Metal doors feature simple panel embossing and smooth (non-textured) painted surfaces. They are considered the least customizable of the three available materials.

Fibreglass doors offer a great compromise to steel and wood doors. Their faux wood grain look and well-defined panel embossments leave plenty of room for customization which can simulate a natural, stained or painted look.

Wood doors have a visually appealing warm traditional look. Each door is often the result of the assembly of several wooden component pieces making the manufacturing process more sizing flexible. A door can be customized to be wider, higher and even thicker than the standard sizes offered by steel and fibreglass line manufacturing processes. 

Cost

As a general rule, metal doors are the least expensive residential doors on the market, however not all metal doors are made the same or incorporate the same core materials, structural frames or paints. So quality and price may vary from one door manufacturer to another.

Fibreglass doors are typically more expensive than metal doors, but again each manufacturer will use their own specified core materials, and you will find a variety of different qualities and prices.

Wood doors can be split into two categories. Solid wood doors are typically more expensive than both metal and fibreglass doors, but it depends on what type of wood you choose. Veneer wooden doors (glued wooden strips of wood on a frame) can range from being competitive with fibreglass or more expensive depending on the core materials being used and the quality that is being built in.

Durability & Maintenance

Steel doors are more susceptible to dents and scratches than both wood and fibreglass doors. Because most steel door manufacturers have their own unique manufacturing processing that can include different metals and core materials, some doors may stand up to the test of time better than others. well-maintained doors will last between 20 to 30 years. Condensation between the door and door frame edge can make the door susceptible to rusting on both the exterior and interior of the door. All-in-all a good quality steel door will require very little maintenance.

Wood doors are highly prone to hot, cold, wet and dry weather resulting in moisture damage that may include rot, dry rot, mould, warping, delimitation and even insect infestation. However, some types of wood perform much better than others. Solid wood doors will last much longer than doors made with veneers and may last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. Wood doors require regular maintenance and repair when issues arise. The longer a wooden door is neglected, the more non-reversible the potential damage.

Fibreglass doors typically offer the best weather resistance in the Ottawa area making them the most durable option for an exterior door. Composite exterior and fibreglass door skins repel water and resist warping, rot, rust as well as chipping and denting. A high-quality fibreglass door will up to 50 years.

Note:  like most consumer products, steel, wood and fibreglass doors are made and marketed to different budgets - depending on the quality of the door, not all door brands will perform the same.

Exposure

Before you purchase a door, consider the type of weather exposure it will get. For example, if the door will be sheltered within a porch roof; facing southern sun exposures, or installed behind a storm door. As general rule fibreglass will perform much better than both wood and steel, no matter what the exposure. Both wood and steel will more resistant to the effects of the climate if they are protected somehow from the elements.

Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient doors increase comfort and reduce energy costs. With environmental concerns and sky-rocketing fuel costs, more and more homeowners are opting for insulated front doors.

Most entrance doors are manufactured and sold in a pre-hung configuration that includes the door slab (door by itself without frame), the frame (including the sill), hinges and hardware. Maximum energy efficiency is only achieved when replacing the entire unit.

When purchasing a total door/frame solution and material type, doors are categorized by the door slab material, not the framing material. Metal and fibreglass doors are actually metal or fibreglass skins that cover a reinforced frame and insulating material - wood doors are typically solid wood without any interior insulation or veneer which is basically a skin over a reinforced wooden or metal/wood inner frame.

While entrance door manufacturers continue to improve the insulating properties of doors (R7), they are still very poor performers when compared to a solid wall in a home (R13).

Certified Energy Star® products

According to Natural Resources Canada and Energy Star®, doors that are Energy Star® approved doors are 15% more efficient than the average non-EnergyStar® door. Energy Star® approved doors provide tighter seals, superior insulated glass units and superior materials with greater insulating properties. Not all door manufacturers build doors the same way or with the same fillers, there are plenty of doors that do not even qualify for the Energy Star® stamp of approval. If energy efficiency is an important consideration, look for the Energy Star® label to help identify energy-efficient products, this will help narrow your selection.

Glass in the door

The R-value of a solid door is much higher than a door with a glass insert or side lites. If you are purchasing a door with glass, be sure to check the glass ratings.

READ MORE - Energy-efficient doors reduce energy costs and increase comfort

Security

Doors and windows are by their nature the weakest link to the security of your home. Some door materials offer better all-around strength, however, the ultimate protection lies in the materials used in the door frame, and the locking mechanism. Steel and fibreglass doors tend to be more secure than wood doors and some brands will insist that their dominant material (wood, fibreglass, metal) will provide better security than others.

Unfortunately, there is no current standard for testing facilities to rate doors for security. No matter what material you choose, look for frames that are made from solid materials such as composite, metal, or hardwood and look for multi-locking door handles/and locks made from hardened steel.

Door locks are categorized by 3 standard grades.

  • Grade 1 requires a key-in-knob that must hold up to 300 lb-in and a lever lock that must withstand 450 lb-in
  • Grade 2 requires a key-in-knob that must hold up to 150 lb-in and a lever lock that must hold up to 225 lb-in
  • Grade 3 requires a key-in-knob that must hold at least 120 lb-in and a lever lock that must withstand at least 180 lb-in

READ MORE - What's to know about entrance door locks and options

Warranty

No matter what material a door is made of there will be different levels of quality and pricing to meet consumer budgets. Most door manufacturers offer varying degrees of limited warranties. If long-term durability is the goal, look for warranties with fewer fine print limits and higher warranty duration - also look for companies that provide lifetime warranties on the installation (labour and materials).

READ MORE - Finding the best window replacement warranty

Summary

If you are looking for a durable, energy-efficient door that will last a lifetime, choosing the right product and the right entrance door installation company will make a huge difference.


If you would like to know more about our line of energy-efficient Energy Star® doors, please give us a call or request more information via our contact form. We’d be happy to answer all of your questions.

Request information | 613-838-2211 | Request a quote