First Impressions

Entry doors serve as points of entry for guests more often than for the homeowners who typically enter through the garage. This presents homeowners with an opportunity to set a specific impression for their guests as they approach a home. Manufacturers are meeting these needs by offering a range of products in varying styles, materials and glass options.

“Entry doors are a key component to curb appeal and the savvy homeowner recognizes that entry is the focal point for their house,” says Elizabeth Souders, product marketing manager, doors, Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors. People want to personalize by choosing different grilles and glass, she adds.

Homeowners also want the doors to be low maintenance. The result is a growing prominence of fiberglass as an option to steel and wood doors. “This is especially the case when the homeowner is interested in the aesthetic choices offered from fiberglass,” says Davis Rowe, brand marketing manager, Pella Corp. Pella offers oak, mahogany and fir grains on its fiberglass doors.

Masonite offers its avant-garde finish technology to guarantee realistic wood grains on its fiberglass entry doors. “It’s a printing process where we take digital images of wood and print them directly on the door. An automatic clear coat is added to protect the image and it has a five-year warranty,” says Keith Kolmeter, vice president, product management for Masonite.

As with most products, price points can determine what product is chosen. This is the case for entry door materials. Fiberglass market share is growing in the mid and custom level, wood is the choice in the custom market, and steel is popular at the low price point, Rowe adds.

If a wood door is chosen, it might be because the homeowner puts the aesthetics before performance, Rowe adds. “The wood market is still strong and you see it on high-end homes where aesthetics is the priority. In our wood offering, we focus on the woods and details on the wood. We spend a lot of time on the character of our wood door collection. We have wood that is rustic nut with natural character markings – it hasn’t been beaten with a chain,” he says.

To add to the aesthetics of a home’s entrance, homeowners are asking for taller and wider doors. “Height is important to homeowners. The trend now is 8 ft. doors as the standard,” says Lance Premeau, product manager, Kolbe and Kolbe Millwork.

As homes get larger, 6 ft. doors could look disproportionate. A 42 in.-wide door with an 8 ft. height is the standard, adds Rowe.

Decorative Opportunities

Glass design represents another styling option which provides homeowners with ways to customize. “This is an area where homeowners will spend more money to add a bit of decorative element to the entry. They also like the function of letting in natural light,” Kolmeter says.

Therma-Tru recently launched two new glass styles: Hazelton and Savannah. “Savannah is more Victorian featuring a soft look with leaves and flower petals. Hazelton is a more arts and crafts style. Both include iridescent glass in them. Another new decorative glass is called Element. This is a contemporary glass design and generates strong reactions from people – both positive and negative. It has a marble white type of glass with red highlights,” says Jim McElroy, general manager of product marketing, Therma-Tru.

Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors partners with ODL, a decorative glass manufacturer. “We partner with them to make sure our doors match their glass. We also offer low-E glass and decorative glass with designs,” Souders adds.

Transoms and sidelights can add appeal to an entryway as most manufacturers offer them in multiple shapes with different decorative glass. “We offer transoms and sidelights that are designed to offer more light and aesthetic appeal. They are available with art glass, patterned glass, and authentic divided light as a way to complement the door itself. We also have different shapes available,” says Brenda Baumann, marketing manager for entry doors, Marvin Windows and Doors.

Some homeowners can be hesitant to add transoms and sidelights due to security concerns but manufacturers ease any worries. “Homeowners don’t want people to see into their house. An option for them is adding decorative glass that allows light in but people can’t see into the house,” Kolmeter says. Impact-resistant glass can also add to a home’s security as the glass shatters but does not allow penetration.

Doors with multipoint locking systems can also enhance a home’s security with three points of locking instead of one found on traditional doors. “Multipoint locks have been around for a number of years but they are growing in demand. There is a lock on the middle of the door, on the top and at the bottom of the door. It has a number of advantages such as keeping the elements out while adding security. From the outside it looks like a standard door — you can only see the difference if you look from the side of the door,” McElroy says.

Regional Demand

Region and door style aren’t as closely connected as one might assume. “People are moving around the country and building second homes in other areas making architecture styles flow throughout the U.S.,” Baumann says.

Despite styles moving throughout the United States, some styles are still prominent in certain areas. “Rustic is very strong in the southwest. You would find very few rustic style doors in New England. Craftsman is popular in the north and northwest but it’s really all over since people really like that style,” McElroy says.

What’s next in the entry door market is anyone’s game. Some manufacturers say the focus will shift to the frame around the door increasing in durability, while others think homeowner demand for Energy Star doors will increase. But no matter where homeowners turn their attention, their desire for personalization and customization is here to stay. “We are going to see a broader diversity of design options. Customers want to make their house their own and one way to do that is with the entry door,” Kolmeter says. “You won’t see more of the same old entry door design.”