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When do I need a new door?

We receive several calls each week from people who are convinced they need a new door. It has become standard procedure for us to ask “what do you see or experience with your door that makes you believe a new replacement is necessary?”

In our experience, many people believe the problems they are experiencing with their door constitute a replacement. Many times that is not the case. For instance, when they see light around the perimeter of the door, they assume the door is warped. Or if the closed door is hard to latch, and they see a gap either at the top or bottom, they naturally conclude the door may be warped. Air felt blowing past a door, water leakage, cracked panels or molding trim around the glass, loose locksets or a door that just won’t stay shut often leads people to believe they need a complete door replacement.

Sometimes there are good and compelling reasons to replace a door. For instance, older wood doors do tend to warp. Some split in places making repair difficult or too expensive. Or perhaps a steel door is rusting out from the inside. Wood rot or termite damage may have damaged the jambs (frame) so severely that replacement is the only reasonable option.

At Dream Doors, we always ask specific questions to determine the condition of your door. This potentially saves you the expense and inconvenience of a door replacement. Many times a simple adjustment, or new weather stripping, or a new lockset is sufficient to bring that old door into a satisfactory condition.

While we generally do not repair doors, we will if the purchase of decorative glass is made from our company. Once we come to install the glass into your door, we will inspect and inform you what additional repairs are recommended and how much they will cost if purchased from our company. You may also opt to have a handyman or someone else to make those repairs.

If you have a door problem…or just think you may have one, call Dream Doors or another reputable company that you trust to give your door an evaluation. You may find you don’t need to replace that old door after all!

Free lunches?

Let me start out by saying, doors can be expensive to purchase and install. If you do not make a wise purchasing decision, they can also be expensive to maintain. Therefore, it makes sense to be an informed buyer when purchasing doors and look beyond just cost. Value is not always found at the lowest purchase price.

The doors and door glass on display in our showroom are plentiful and beautiful to look at. We believe you should be able to shop and make evaluations about a product in the most natural settings. We never suggest people buy from a catalog, because the actual products always look different that those found in catalogs or brochures. We encourage people to look, touch and feel the exact products they select.

Some folks try to compare our quality products with builder grade products such as those found at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Those folks do a very good overall job with many different items. However, for the most part, their products are built for the do-it-yourself- market. This means they are competing with the other big box retailers, and quality takes a back seat to price. A product can only be reduced in price so far before affecting the overall quality.

Well meaning consumers, not very experienced at purchasing doors, may look in the big box stores and assume all doors are essentially the same. In fact, many times they will see a door set in the aisle at a big box store that has an especially low price. It may look somewhat appealing, but the price is even more appealing. That becomes the price standard, making it difficult to absorb the pricing structure of true quality doors.

Once a price becomes fixed in someone’s mind as the benchmark, it can be difficult for them to expect to pay more. Here are the questions one must ask before affixing to memory the low price as seen on the loss leader door stuck in the main aisle at your local big box retailer. Will that price include:

  1. Installation?
  2. Permit fee?
  3. Interior trim molding?
  4. Exterior trim molding?
  5. Caulk, shim packs and drops?
  6. Painting or staining?
  7. Locksets?
  8. Special order if you need extra wide jambs?
  9. Special order if you need a different profile threshold?
  10. Modifications to the door opening and/or the door unit itself?
  11. Lifetime warranty?
  12. Sidelights if needed?

Most folks find that, once those questions are answered, and a true picture of apples to apples comparisons are made, the inexpensive door units from the big box stores simply don’t offer the value of a quality door unit offered by a professional door company.

As the saying goes, there are no free lunches.

Which kinds of doors are better?

Things to look for in a door

It may surprise you learn that all doors are not made the same. There are different grades of doors, and different price points. Here are some facts good to know as you shop for doors.

•Wood doors
Wood doors come in two basic grades, expensive and inexpensive. Expensive doors will look expensive. Expensive wood doors are made usually of oak, mahogany, alder or maybe even pine or cherry. Inexpensive doors are usually made of fir, birch, some pine or a foreign species you may never have heard of before. Expensive doors will cost thousands; inexpensive wood doors will cost hundreds. Wood doors of any species or cost will require more maintenance and upkeep than comparable steel or fiberglass doors. However, if you choose to have a door with a stained finish, wood is still the best option you have.

•Steel doors
Steel doors were popular for many years due to their low cost. Most people assume steel doors are more secure, when in fact, they are less secure than wood or fiberglass doors. Steel doors should be considered ONLY when price is a real issue. Initial purchase price is the only real advantage steel doors have; in the long run, they are the most expensive to own. The reasons for this are multiple. Steel doors conduct heat and cold, which means your house is hotter in the summer, colder in the winter. This drives up energy costs, and in fact, some steel doors with a direct sun exposure may get hot enough to cause skin burns! Steel doors also get dented easily, making them look old and ugly before their usefulness is up. Steel doors also rust, sometimes from the inside out. When this happens, replacement is imminent.

•Fiberglass doors
Fiberglass is generally assumed by the industry to be the best choice for a door material if low maintenance and cost of ownership is important. Fiberglass has the advantage of providing lower energy costs due to the fact they do not conduct heat and cold well. This means the heating and air-conditioning stays inside the house where you want it, does not transfer to the outside of the house where you do not want it.

Fiberglass can be stained or painted. If staining, a textured fiberglass door slab should be specified. If painting, you may select between a textured door slab, and a smooth skin door slab. Should you choose to stain your textured fiberglass door, please consider a professional finisher who is experienced in staining fiberglass. This is not the time to try a do-it-yourself project if it’s your first time staining fiberglass! Be aware there are differences in quality of fiberglass door slabs. Some fiberglass doors offer fiberglass door slabs with wood around the four outer edges (sides, top and bottom). These doors WILL rot out along the edges, and termites have even been found in some. Always look for a fiberglass door, which has fiberglass on all six (6) sides of the door slab.

If you are still not sure which type door is best suited for you, locate a dealer you can trust who will give you information based on their experiences. Most professionals are eager to help you achieve the door of your dreams!

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