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Is It Time to Replace Your Front Door?

Upgrade your home’s curb appeal, save energy and score a tax rebate with a new front door

glazed entry door systemTherma-Tru

A classic front entrance offers inviting approach and beautiful detailing.

Is it time to replace your home’s front door? If it looks shoddy and does a poor job of keeping out the weather, now is a great time to buy a stunning new door that will add to your home’s value, improve comfort, increase energy savings and ensure security.

A new front door can give your home instant curb appeal. The front door, after all, is a key focal point and one of the first impressions visitors have when they arrive at your home. As such, a new door can significantly contribute to your home’s style and character, increasing its value.

Many of today’s doors are designed to do a great job of shutting out the weather and holding-in home energy. Construction from durable, insulated materials combined with integral weather stripping systems help these doors maximize comfort by reducing drafty air leaks, and they save energy by preserving expensively heated air in the winter or chilled air in the summer.

Some new doors, due to their construction, can also make a home quieter by blocking or reducing traffic and neighborhood noise.

And of course, a new door can improve security. Strong materials (such as steel doors) and sophisticated multi-point locking systems provide an excellent barrier against intruders.

Why Get a New Door Now?

Why does it make sense to jump on this improvement now? There are two good reasons: First, winter is on its way. Though you can remove and replace a door on any clear day, Mother Nature will freely come and go when you remove the door, so it’s best to handle this improvement before winter cold arrives.

A second good reason, if you intend to buy an energy-efficient front door system, is that tax credits that are available now for qualifying products may run out at the end of the year.

Between now and December 31, 2016, the federal government is offering a 10 percent tax credit for buying qualifying Energy Star-certified doors. This credit, which does not include installation costs, covers 10% of the cost up to $500.

Note: An Energy Star sticker alone does not guarantee that a door qualifies for this program. For more about the credit, visit the Energy Star site.

Understanding Door Materials

Historically, entry doors were usually made from wood. Today’s doors, however, are made from wood, steel or fiberglass composites—or a combination of these materials.

Though real wood doors have natural beauty, they are vulnerable to weathering, especially from direct sun and rain, so they need considerable care and maintenance unless they’re installed in a well-protected area. Real wood doors have very little insulation value, so they don’t qualify for tax incentives.

Fiberglass composite and steel doors, on the other hand, are designed to last for decades in severe weather conditions. Most have a foam insulation core that gives them excellent energy performance. Many have a surface that, when stained or painted, resembles wood.

Doors that meet Energy Star requirements are actually more than doors—they are entry systems. With an entry system, an insulated door is pre-mounted in a frame that includes jambs, threshold and interlocking weather stripping. Everything is part of the system, from hinges to dual- or triple-glazed windows (“lites”) and the lockset. With some models, side lites provide light and views at one or both sides of the door.

Replacing a conventional door with an entry system is a significantly bigger job than replacing a door with one of the same size because the wall framing that holds the door’s frame must be rebuilt and the area around the opening may need to be repaired.

Where & How to Buy a Door

Doors are sold online, at major home improvement centers, at lumberyards, at millwork shops and through local distributors and dealers who represent door manufacturers. Manufactured entry systems are made primarily by large companies such as Jeld-Wen, Andersen, Masonite, Pella, Fortune Brands and Marvin. Most companies are happy to offer an in-home consultation and free estimate.

It’s smart to go to a store or showroom so you can see what you’re buying. If you do go to a dealer, plan to be armed with measurements. For a simple door replacement, measure the old door’s width, thickness (normally 1 3/4 inches) and height (normally 6 feet, 8 inches). Then note the direction the door swings. From inside, if the doorknob is on the right, it’s a “right-handed” door; if it’s on the left, it’s a “left-handed” door. When ordering, it’s smart to sketch a birds-eye view of the door and its direction of swing to avoid any confusion.

If you’re buying an entry system you’ll need to measure the thickness of the wall so you can order the proper width of jamb, too—you can usually just measure the old doorjambs. When ordering an entry system, be sure all the components are made by the same manufacturer to ensure that they’re designed to go together. All weather stripping should seal tightly and the threshold should interlock with the door’s bottom edge.

Regardless of who makes the door you’re interested in buying, inquire about the length of the warranty—the best doors have a limited warranty for as long as you own and occupy the house; some warranties are even transferrable to the next owner when you sell the house. You can read or download most manufacturers’ warranties online.

High-quality steel and fiberglass doors are manufactured with an insulated separation called a “thermal break” that prevents outside temperatures from being conducted through the door. If you live in a cold climate, a good thermal break is a must to keep frost from forming on the door’s inside surface.

The cost of installing a new entry door, as with most home improvements, depends largely on the quality of the materials, regional labor costs and installation conditions. The price for a door alone starts at about $400 for a wood door. A pre-hung hardwood door system with side lites can easily run $4000 or more. The best way to nail down costs is to figure out what you want and then get bids.

Though a high-quality door may cost you a little more, its energy efficiency, low maintenance, smooth operation and great looks will pay you back for years.

This article, written by HomeTips’s Don Vandervort, was originally posted on US News.com.

Repair an Entry Door Threshold

Expert advice on how to repair or replace a damaged exterior door threshold, including how to replace a threshold gasket

A threshold at the base of an exterior door is important for properly sealing your home against water damage and air infiltration. Because a threshold receives heavy foot traffic and a lot of general wear and tear, repairs or complete replacement are sometimes necessary.

Replacement threshold made of bronze-finished aluminum easily replaces an old threshold. Photo: M-D Building Products

Replacement threshold made of bronze-finished aluminum easily replaces an old threshold. Photo: M-D Building Products

How to Replace a Threshold

Replacing a door threshold is not just for the sake of appearances, it can also be a real energy saver. The threshold at the base of an exterior door takes a beating with constant foot traffic and weathering. As it ages or—worse—rots, it looks bad and ceases to do an effective job of sealing out the weather. That?s when it’s time to replace it.

The following instructions will guide your through replacing a wooden threshold:

1Remove the damaged threshold. If necessary, cut it in two and pry out the pieces. Be careful not to cut or pry against your finish flooring.

2Mark and cut the replacement threshold to fit. You may be able to use the two sections of the old threshold to help measure and mark the new threshold—if you do, be sure to allow for the width of the saw cut you made during removal.[GARD align=”right”]

3Cut the replacement threshold. (If you’re installing a metal one, use tin snips and a hacksaw or a saber saw with a metal-cutting blade to make the cuts.)

4Brush or sweep the area where the threshold will go.

 

5Set the new threshold into position and test it for fit. Temporarily remove it and apply silicone caulk to seal it to the floor. Replace it and attach it to the floor with screws, countersinking their heads (for a metal threshold, follow the manufacturer’s directions; if it includes a rubber gasket, cut this to length and install it as well).

How to Replace a Threshold Gasket

If you have an exterior door with a threshold that’s capped by a rubber gasket and the gasket is broken or badly worn, here is how to replace it:[GARD align=”right”]

Remove the door. Use an old chisel or screwdriver to pry out the splines that hold the gasket in place (if there are splines), and then pry up the gasket and pull it out of its groove.

Take the old gasket to a home improvement center or hardware store and buy an exact replacement. Most new gaskets just press into place (you can force the new gasket, if necessary, by pushing it against a short wooden block).

Find Local Pre-Screened Door Repair Pros

Repairing Door Dents & Dings

Dents, dings, and other damage to doors can generally be repaired fairly successfully. The methods to use depend upon the surface material of the door. Here are the methods:

Repairing a Damaged Wood Door

There are many methods for repairing or restoring woodwork, and they work just as well on wood doors.[GARD align=”left”]

You can sand out minor scratches, fill gouges with wood putty. Areas or rot and deeper damage are very common and a bit more complicated to handle. To deal with this problem, buy a package of epoxy wood filler, which contains two tubes of material meant to be mixed together immediately before application. Here’s how to fill a damaged area:

Use an old chisel to remove damaged wood and debris.

1Hand-holding an old wood chisel, clean out of all of the loose, damaged wood. Then brush or blow out the area.

2On a disposable surface, mix together equal parts of the two tubes, using a flat, disposable stick or tool (such as a piece of a paint-stirring stick).

Pack the damaged area with epoxy putty.

3Pack the epoxy inside the hole, forcing it into every nook and cranny. Smooth the surface just below the plane of the door’s surface. Then allow it to set up completely, according to label directions.

4Apply exterior vinyl spackling compound, using a putty knife. Finish it so that it is smooth and flat with the door’s surface. Allow it to dry.

Apply exterior spackling compound, allow to dry, and then sand.

5Use fine sandpaper to sand the area. Then prime with an exterior primer, allow the primer to dry, and paint to match.

If major areas are damaged or rotted, replace them by cutting away the damaged area and gluing in a new matching piece. For a panel in a Colonial-style door that’s cracked or split, you may be able to re-glue it without removing it from the rest of the door.

If you have to remove a panel or replace it completely, try prying off the moldings that surround it and hold it in place. On some panel doors the moldings are routed in and can?t be removed. In this case, one option is to cut away these integral moldings carefully. After you?ve fixed the panel, buy new moldings to match the rest of the door?s trim.

Repairing a Fiberglass Door

To repair a fiberglass front door that has a dent or a ding, buy a Corvette body repair kit at an auto parts store and follow the label directions to prepare and apply the filler so that it is flat with the surface.[GARD align=”right”]

Once you’ve finished the repair, prime the patch with 100% acrylic latex primer, and then paint the entire door with 100% acrylic latex paint.

Repairing a Dented Steel Door

To repair a dent in a steel door, buy auto body filler at an auto parts store and follow the label directions. With most types, you sand down the dented area until you reach bare metal and then apply the filler in thin layers to build up the patch. When the filler is flush with the surface of the door, sand it smooth. Prime the patch with 100% acrylic latex primer, and then paint the entire door with 100% acrylic latex paint.

 

Repairing Door Dents & Dings

Dents, dings, and other damage to doors can generally be repaired fairly successfully. The methods to use depend upon the surface material of the door. Here are the methods:

Repairing a Damaged Wood Door

There are many methods for repairing or restoring woodwork, and they work just as well on wood doors.[GARD align=”left”]

You can sand out minor scratches, fill gouges with wood putty. Areas or rot and deeper damage are very common and a bit more complicated to handle. To deal with this problem, buy a package of epoxy wood filler, which contains two tubes of material meant to be mixed together immediately before application. Here’s how to fill a damaged area:

Use an old chisel to remove damaged wood and debris.

1Hand-holding an old wood chisel, clean out of all of the loose, damaged wood. Then brush or blow out the area.

2On a disposable surface, mix together equal parts of the two tubes, using a flat, disposable stick or tool (such as a piece of a paint-stirring stick).

Pack the damaged area with epoxy putty.

3Pack the epoxy inside the hole, forcing it into every nook and cranny. Smooth the surface just below the plane of the door’s surface. Then allow it to set up completely, according to label directions.

4Apply exterior vinyl spackling compound, using a putty knife. Finish it so that it is smooth and flat with the door’s surface. Allow it to dry.

Apply exterior spackling compound, allow to dry, and then sand.

5Use fine sandpaper to sand the area. Then prime with an exterior primer, allow the primer to dry, and paint to match.

If major areas are damaged or rotted, replace them by cutting away the damaged area and gluing in a new matching piece. For a panel in a Colonial-style door that’s cracked or split, you may be able to re-glue it without removing it from the rest of the door.

If you have to remove a panel or replace it completely, try prying off the moldings that surround it and hold it in place. On some panel doors the moldings are routed in and can?t be removed. In this case, one option is to cut away these integral moldings carefully. After you?ve fixed the panel, buy new moldings to match the rest of the door?s trim.

Repairing a Fiberglass Door

To repair a fiberglass front door that has a dent or a ding, buy a Corvette body repair kit at an auto parts store and follow the label directions to prepare and apply the filler so that it is flat with the surface.[GARD align=”right”]

Once you’ve finished the repair, prime the patch with 100% acrylic latex primer, and then paint the entire door with 100% acrylic latex paint.

Repairing a Dented Steel Door

To repair a dent in a steel door, buy auto body filler at an auto parts store and follow the label directions. With most types, you sand down the dented area until you reach bare metal and then apply the filler in thin layers to build up the patch. When the filler is flush with the surface of the door, sand it smooth. Prime the patch with 100% acrylic latex primer, and then paint the entire door with 100% acrylic latex paint.

 

How to Fix a Loose or Warped Door

If a door is too small for its frame, an easy though somewhat obtrusive solution is to install weatherstripping on the latch side of the jamb. A more attractive fix is to shim out one or more of the door?s hinges. To do this, you?ll need to remove the hinge pins and the door.

fix loose door

Loosen screws  and insert shims behind hinges to fix door alignment problems.

Unscrew the hinge leaf from the jamb (loosen screws but don’t remove them entirely). Cut a piece of thin sheet brass or dense, hard- surface cardboard to fit beneath it. Double up shims if you need more thickness. Then screw the leaf back in place.

Often, simply tightening loose hinges gets a sagging door back in alignment. You can try tightening loose hinge screws or replacing them with longer ones. If the holes are so badly stripped that the screws won?t hold, repair the screw holes. To do this, remove the screws and hinge leaf from the jamb. Then coat small wood dowels or headless matchsticks with white glue and tap them into the hole with a hammer, using as many as needed. Trim them flush with a sharp chisel and wipe away excess glue. Then drill new pilot holes for the screws and reassemble.

Adjusting a Warped Door

To fix a slightly warped door, try adjusting the stop, partially shimming the hinges, or adding another hinge. Where there is a slight bow on the hinge side, centering a third hinge between the top and bottom ones often pulls the door back into alignment. If the bow is near the lock side and the door latches only when slammed, first try adjusting the latch.[GARD align=”left”]

Then try repositioning the stop, as you would for a window. If necessary, adjust the strike plate. If the top or bottom of the door does not meet the stop on the lock side, try repositioning the stop and the strike plate.

You may also have to shim the hinges to change the angle of the door?s swing. You can move a door closer to the lock side of the jamb by inserting shims under the hinge leaves. Depending on the direction of the warp, place a half shim under each hinge leaf either on the side of the leaf that is closest to the pin or on the opposite side. Usually, the other hinge is shimmed in the opposite way.