Entry Doors Deliver More and Less

"Homeowners still really care about appearance,” says Craig Weaver, Klamath Falls, Ore.-based JELD-WEN’s marketing manager for exterior doors. “They want to improve that first impression of the home, and an entry door is one of the best ways to perk up the curb appeal of the home. We’re seeing people are remodeling instead of moving, so they want to change the appearance of their homes.

“Along with good looks, homeowners want freedom from the yearly painting and finishing they’ve traditionally had to do,” he adds

Crafstman-style doors continue to have strong appeal, Weaver comments. However, he also sees a trend toward more contemporary designs. “People have seen six-panel designs for a number of years, and it’s time to look at something different. Two-panel designs continue to grow,” he says.

White is still the predominant color for steel doors, according to Weaver, but darker colors, such as reds and greens, are gaining popularity. For fiberglass doors, stain colors, such as oak and mahogany, are favorites.
Options shouldn’t be overlooked when recommending a door for clients. “The remodeler shouldn’t be afraid to suggest step-ups and other options for a door,” Weaver says. Sidelites are one option, and there are many glass, caming and hardware options, as well. “There is no one set standard door any longer; you can customize it any way you want,” Weaver says.

Environmental concerns, or green issues, haven’t lost their appeal, either, although “everyone is going to think something different about green,” Weaver says. “To some it may mean energy savings—that the company uses recycled materials in its fiberglass doors will appeal to others,” he adds.

“Younger generations are buying and remodeling homes, and green is what they’ve grown up with. They’re going to be asking that question,” Weaver says.

Wausau, Wis.-based Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co., places a great deal of emphasis on environmental choices, as well, says Cindy Bremer, vice president of marketing. The company earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody Certification, making FSC-certified wood an option on many Kolbe window and door products. Along with sustainable wood choices, Kolbe uses recycled content in its products.

For homeowners worried about the impact of VOCs, Kolbe’s doors are finished to limit the impact of VOCs on environmental air quality. For example, a fully encapsulated process is used in which the VOCs are destroyed when applying wood preservative and 70 percent PVDF fluoropolymer exterior finishes. Interiors are prefinished with water-based, low-VOC stains and paints, saving time and materials during field-application, cleanup and disposal.

Yearning for Options

Confirming homeowners’ yearning for more options, Jeff Kibler, brand manager for Mosinee, Wis.-based Peachtree Doors and Windows sees movement in consumer preferences toward a wider variety of grain patterns in the company’s fiberglass doors. “It used to be just oak and smooth finishes,” he relates. “But now you have rustic alder, vertical grain fir and mahogany. These doors look very realistic, and the staining techniques are better.

“We’re seeing more people go into mahoganies and rustics, but in the fiberglass lines today oak is still the top seller,” he says.

“Also smooth fiberglass is starting to chip away at the traditional steel market,” Kibler continues. “We still sell a ton of steel because of the price point, but the price is narrowing between a smooth fiberglass and a steel product,” he says

“If it’s a painted door, fiberglass and steel look about the same,” Kibler explains. “If the door is installed in a highly corrosive area, the homeowner is not going to want to use steel. Also, if it’s going to be taking some abuse, steel can dent, whereas fiberglass won’t dimple.”

When it comes to decorative glass, homeowners are turning away from the brass caming that has dominated the market for many years and are choosing nickel or oil-rubbed caming, Kibler notes. The same trend holds true for hardware, he adds.

More homeowners and remodelers are looking for a complete turnkey system when they replace entry doors. “We’re seeing a big boost in sales going toward factory-finished panels. The doors can be painted or stained or a combination. If the homeowner wants an exterior painted dark green and wants it stained mahogany on the inside, we can do that.” Kibler says.

Pella, Iowa-based Pella Windows & Doors sees continuing interest in its Craftsman-style doors, according to Steve Brenizer, entry door marketing manager.

Most homeowners are familiar with the Energy Star label on windows and doors, but Brenizer points out remodelers may also wish to alert clients to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label available on doors. The NFRC label lists the manufacturer, describes the product, provides a source for additional information and includes ratings for energy performance characteristics. The additional information can help homeowners make informed decisions and help the remodeler make the sale.

Wood is Good

Wood doors, despite the prevalence of wood-look doors, still hold a piece of the entry door market, a share that has remained fairly constant over the last 10 years, says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for McCleary, Wash.-based Simpson Door Co.

“What type of wood door goes into a home usually depends on the value of that home, so wood doors tend to go into higher-end homes,” he says.

“One thing that is special about wood is it can be shaped, machined and built to any size and shape,” he says. “Remodelers look to wood doors if they’re trying to match historical doors or ones that are a unique configuration,” Loveless adds.

Loveless says it’s hard to pin down a specific tendency other than to say “consumers want what they want. They’re savvy about being able to customize things and they’re not bashful about doing so.”

Like other door makers Loveless sees a drift toward a contemporary look, whether it’s a very dramatic departure or just small tweaks to make the door more sleek. “Wood doors aren’t just the old traditional six-panel look anymore. There is a lot more contemporary styling, especially with glass, where we’re seeing a lot of asymmetrical designs,” Loveless says.

Looking Smart

“Appearance is one of the top drivers for door purchases,” says Derek Fielding, senior product manager for Maumee, Ohio-based Therma-Tru Doors. “If the door hasn’t completely failed, homeowners are going to be looking to upgrade that door. We find that’s where a lot of homeowners tend to look at decorative glass and painting and staining options,” he says.

Vented sidelites are another option. “Homeowners also want to let more of the outdoors in. The sidelites can be opened to allow ventilation, and you don’t have to have a screen door in front of the door you’ve just spent a great deal of time and money picking out and installing,” Fielding says.