Door Decisions

In our precarious economy, homeowners are still willing to spend big money on a remodel job, but they demand a much bigger bang for those bucks. Preserving the structure, saving on energy bills and protecting the environment have become the triumvirate of homeowner priorities. And manufacturers are responding to these customers with doors that meet homeowner demands and appeal both visually and economically.

“I believe that consumers recognize the value of a product in terms of the expense versus performance,” says Lance Premeau, product manager for Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. “Most consumers are willing to pay more for a product that performs well and meets their specific needs.”

“Remodelers are very focused on value-added solution upgrades,” says Derek Fielding, Therma-Tru Doors product manager. “In other words, they want to know what benefits fiberglass offers over wood or steel doors — benefits like minimal maintenance, durability and the look of real wood without concern that it will rot, split or crack.”

Therma-Tru’s Fiber-Classic line of fiberglass entry doors is now available in mahogany grain. The company’s Craftsman style door emulates Craftsman architecture with its straightforward lines. The doors are available with decorative glass, including Therma-Tru’s Brookside decorative glass — an Arts and Crafts design with an arc of sea green antique glass between seeded and double water glass.

“With the economic downturn, people are looking for even more value and service in the products they purchase,” says Carole Reams, PGT product manager. “Providing quality products with great service is more important now than ever before.”

“Contrary to what one might think, sales of lower-priced products have not increased significantly in this market because the lower end of the market has been the hardest hit by the economy,” Jeff Kibler, brand manager for Peachtree Doors and Windows. “The higher end of the market is still doing OK, and those homeowners do not tend to compromise for price.”

Nesting in the nest egg

The economic stimulus package is expected to revive the sagging economy, and manufacturers are counting on homeowners and businesses to take advantage of the stimulus benefits.

“We see the biggest opportunities yet to come since the signing of the economic stimulus bill,” says Kibler. “We’re hopeful that the increased tax credits — up to $1,500 — will encourage homeowners to replace their entry doors, since the tax credit could cover the cost of a new door in many cases. Those who act will likely be the people who can finance the improvement themselves since home equity has declined dramatically and financing is more difficult to obtain. We also think the stimulus bill will help spark additional light commercial work.”

Peachtree has expanded its entry door line to include the Mahogany Collection, the Rustic Collection with alder-textured plank panels, the Craftsman Collection with vertical fir-grain panels, and the Oak Collection to appeal to a variety of tastes and architectural styles. “New styles like these will help textured fiberglass doors increase market share and provide an architecturally correct entry door for diverse architectural styles,” says Kibler. “Similarly, expanded panel designs and design options on entry doors will provide greater customization of fiberglass and steel doors.”

“The best opportunities we’ve discovered are in home remodeling,” says Jim Sheehan, Milgard Fiberglass WoodClad sales manager. “A lot of homeowners have decided to stay in their current homes and upgrade them. We are seeing an increased interest in fiberglass products for remodeling applications.”

Milgard’s fiberglass in-swing patio door is applicable for both new and replacement construction projects. The door’s exterior cladding is available in eight colors — white, tan, sand, brownstone, hunter green, cranberry, matte black and silver pearl. Features also include PureView sliding screens and single motion multi-point locking hardware. Plus, the unit is backed by Milgard’s full lifetime warranty, which includes glass breakage coverage.

“Everything is slower, although remodeling is a bright spot,” says PFT’s Carole Reams. “People are investing in their homes because they are staying in them. Then when the time comes to sell, their investment will be repaid.”

Marvin’s Arch Top French door is available in either an in-swing or out-swing door. The rails, stiles and the lite pattern of the door can be designed to align with accompanying side lites or Round Top windows. Arch Top is available with the shadow-lines of a raised panel or a flat panel and features tempered, one-lite insulating glass. The doors have a multipoint locking system with satin taupe handle on the active panel and a matching dummy handle on inactive panel.

Simpson Door Company’s Artist collection of doors includes a line called Designs on Nature. The Designs on Nature theme is offered in full-lite exterior French doors, as well as flat- and raised-panel doors. Simpson Artist Collection doors are available in Douglas fir, Western hemlock, red oak, knotty alder, maple, cherry, mahogany, and a variety of additional species through Simpson’s Custom Door Manufacturing Facility. The doors are 1 3/4 in. thick, 3 ft. wide and can be specified in heights of 6 ft. 8 in., 7 ft. or 8 ft. Doors from the Designs on Nature edition that feature a 3/4-in. thick flat panel include California poppy, Northwest garden and Scottsdale cactus.

“Replacing flush wood doors, with molded panel doors is an easy and inexpensive way for homeowners to quickly add character, color and style throughout a home,” says Bob Merrill, president and CEO of CMI. “For remodelers, the additional selling points are that molded doors resist swelling, shrinking and splitting caused by seasonal weather changes.”

CraftMaster offers its Cashal arched-top, two-panel plank interior door in standard 6-ft. 8-in. and 7-ft. heights, as well as an 8-foot-tall version. Cashal is available in passage widths from 1 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft. in either hollow-core or solid-core construction, and with finger-joint or MDF stiles and rails. Bifolds are available for most standard openings from 2 to 6 ft.. All CraftMaster interior doors, including Cashal, are made from molded, high-density fiberboard to resist shrinking, cracking and joint separation, and they are covered by the company’s five-year limited warranty.

Green continues to be a key selling point for doors. At CMI, Merrill has seen a “great demand for doors with a ‘green specification’ impacting all of the various components with specific interest in sustainability and low formaldehyde emissions.”

“In California, the state’s new formaldehyde emission regulations are having an impact,” explains Elizabeth Souders, JELD-WEN product marketing manager, doors. “We’ve responded with molded interior doors that have skins with no added formaldehyde. This interest in no formaldehyde is starting to extend to other regions of the country as well.

“When it comes to balancing economics and sustainability, energy efficiency continues to be a top priority not only because it has major environmental implications but also because homeowners can realize the immediate benefit of lower utility bills,” says Souders.

JELD-WEN has introduced the AuraLast wood exterior door frame for maximum protection against wood decay and insect damage. These frames can be finished to coordinate with the desired look for the entry system. JELD-WEN also offers a clad AuraLast frame with their custom fiberglass doors.

“Energy efficiency and code compliance will continue to grow in importance within the market,” says Kolbe’s Lance Premeau. “Consumers are savvy in terms of doing research on product performance and are really well-educated in understanding how specific door products can help the efficiency of their homes. Codes are continuing to become more stringent in various regions of the country.”

Bigger opportunities

Large doors are a big trend as they combine aesthetics with practicality. Grand openings look incredible and, for those with mobility issues, they are an incredible life enhancement.

“The overall height and width of doors continue to increase,” says Premeau. “Builders and remodelers are continuing to work on projects that contain higher ceilings. If the opportunity exists to use a larger door, the consumer is taking advantage of it.

“Universal design will continue to escalate in interest and relevance within the remodeling market,” he adds. “Remodelers are becoming more cognizant of the need to accommodate potential accessibility issues with a home. By utilizing universal design characteristics, they can give more options to the homeowner. Items such as wider doors, lever handles and motorized blinds are some of the door options which can help in this area.”

Kolbe’s TerraSpan lift and slide doors are designed to match the company’s aluminum-clad wood windows and doors. The doors are available in energy-efficient glass options, and can incorporate up to 10 panels per unit with a 12-ft. maximum panel height. The exterior cladding includes recycled aluminum and has an environmentally friendly finish. A range of sustainable wood species can be chosen for the interior trim. TerraSpan doors feature multipoint locking hardware and may be selected in finishes such as satin nickel and oil rubbed.

“Exterior doors, both entry doors and patio doors, will continue to be bigger than the standard entry or patio doors of 10 years ago,” says Jeff Kibler. “As the centerpiece of an overall design scheme, entry doors are more commonly requested beyond the traditional 6-ft. 8-in. heights, and then enlarged by sidelites and monumental transoms that flood two-story foyers with natural light. Patio door widths continue to expand, allowing homeowners to open up more of their home to fresh air and entertain in a free-flowing fashion. Motorized telescoping, pocket doors or bifold doors span large widths and provide design enhancements inside and out.”

Pella has expanded its fiberglass door line to include an 8-ft. Craftsman fiberglass entry door. Pella also offers fiberglass entry doors featuring a Deluxe Oval panel option for a more traditional door style. In addition, wrought iron grilles mount to the exterior of Pella fiberglass doors to create a Western or Southwestern look. The grilles are available on full and three-fourths light fiberglass doors with textured and Low-E glass.

Regional requirements

While many industry trends are overarching, individual architecture styles and geographical locations ensure that one size does not fit all.

Derek Fielding, Therma-Tru Doors product manager, says, “Rustic door styles in a two-panel soft arch are still very popular in the West and Southwest regions. On the coasts, we’re seeing continued interest in Craftsman-style doors for renovations and remodeling projects.”

“There continues to be interest in impact-resistant products along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, as there always has been,” says PGT’s Carole Reams.

PGT’s WinGuard Aluminum SGD780 is an impact-resistant sliding glass door featuring an optional 9-in. bottom rail for a French door look. The door’s panels are 4 ft. wide by up to 10 ft. high, and the door is offered with a choice of the company’s five Eterna simulated wood grain finishes — dark walnut, cherry, dark oak, acacia and light oak.

Atrium’s SafeHarbor impact-resistant vinyl and aluminum patio doors feature laminated glass system with .090-in. interlayer for impact resistance as well as outdoor sound suppression. Insulated glass panels range from 3/4 to 1 in. with warm edge spacer system, and the product’s multichambered frame assembly is designed to improve thermal performance. SafeHarbor’s hardware components also meet impact-test protocols. The doors have certified design pressure (DP) ratings of up to 60 for sliding glass doors which meet coastal wind and hurricane debris code requirements.

“Trends are more relative to a home’s architectural style than geographic location,” observes Jeff Kibler. “Craftsman-style or Arts-and-Crafts-style homes are located throughout the country as are Victorian-style homes. Homeowners are choosing entry doors that complement those architectural styles regardless of where they live.”

With an abundance of door styles to fit the today’s trends, it seems manufacturers have their customers covered. Lance Premeau offers a vital piece of advice: “The importance of proper installation can’t be overstated. No matter the product or manufacturer, proper installation is key to the performance of any door system.”

Use the E-Inquiry for more information on the following suppliers:

  • Atrium Windows and Doors #58
  • CMI #59
  • JELD-WEN #60
  • Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. #61
  • Marvin Windows and Doors #62
  • Peachtree Doors and Windows #63
  • Pella #64
  • PGT Industries #65
  • Simpson Door Company #66
  • Therma-Tru Doors #67