Entry door choices

lkgarn00November 26, 2012

Hello everyone,

We are in the process of picking out entry doors for our build/remodel. The choices we have looked at so far are fiberglass Therma-Tru and Masonite, but another possibility is using Marvin patio doors.

My husband wants more of the "formal" entry door look - single door with two side lights, however cost might be an issue, so we will be going with two double doors (savings of about $800). The Marvin patio doors will be french doors - one side fixed.

We are trying to keep costs down but don't want to skimp on quality as these will be heavily used doors. My first impression is that the Marvin patio doors will be a maintenance free quality door, but the fiberglass doors will be a more "formal" look.

We have to pick out an entry door and a side door and want them to be the same and cost limitations are at 4K for both doors. The Marvin Ultimate line and the Masonite/Therma-tru all will be around the same cost.

Any opinions on quality from these three choices?

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Don't leave security out of your decision.

I agree that the look of a door with sidelights is lovely, but those doors are dangerous. A thief can easily put his elbow through the sidelight and reach right in to open your deadbolt. You can countermand that problem, of course, by using a half-sidelight and putting the deadbolt out of reach. However, another issue remains: A thief can see that a door whose deadbolt inserts into a skinny little piece of wood between the door and the sidelight isn't all that strong. A big man with a strong boot can knock out a deadbolt positioned in this way.

Also, if you have sidelights, will you have space on the wall to install light switches? I have a half-sidelight in my current house, and the light switches are two foot from the from door, around a small corner. I wasn't so smart when I bought this house, but I'd like to think I know more now!

A double door entry suffers from the same problem: The deadbolt will fasten into that small piece of wood in the middle rather than a solid piece of wood; thus, it's not so secure as it could be.

French doors, of course, are by their very design not as secure as other doors. A well-aimed piece of firewood can go right through your lovely doors. We have them in our house, but they're inside a fence with a big dog -- I'm going to have a sliding glass door in my new house, so obviously I'm valuing the light and convenience over the security.

One thing I dislike about my French doors (which are just the type you're describing): The door swings INWARD right where my table sits. In moderate weather, when we want to have the door open, we have to scoot the table forward a bit, and then the door blocks some of the air that would've come into the house. This is the type of thing that could've been eleminated by better planning.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Marvin French Doors are traditional used as a Patio Type door not an entry door and as such you need to look at the detail of the sill as you WILL have a patio door raised type threshold unless you upgrade to a wood sill.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Thanks for your replies.

Security is an issue and for that reason, we were thinking of having one of the double doors fixed and the other door a functional door - so the lock would go into the solid wood on the door jam - and not to the middle. That may look funny with the Therma-tru type doors.

These doors (the double and the single ) will be right next to each other on a patio- one being the entry to the main living space and the other being a single door to our mudroom access from outside. If we make them both single doors, people might be confused.

Masonite does not have the multipoint locking system but we could have it installed on site. Both Therma-tru and the Marvin doors would have this already in the doors.

Does the multipoint locking system help with security that much?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I would go with a single door rather than double doors with one being fixed. Of course, I don't really like double-sized doors anyway; seems kind of appropriate for the Brady Bunch's split-level.

I'm not sure what a multi-point locking system is. Does it mean locks in two different places (for example, I have a lock on my doorknob AND a deadbolt above it)? If so, that would be more secure. Two separate locks that a thief must undo. Onthe other hand, if it's two things within the same lock tumbler, and the door is still "kickable", it's no more useful.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Given that it's a French style door versus something solid, I don't think a fixed door would offer much more security because the glass can be broken no matter what type of locking system is in place.

If if were choosing this style of door for the front I would want both doors to open. I've had both styles in different houses: one door fixed and one with both doors that open. This was/is on a walkout basement area. Having both doors open is much more convenient for moving furniture in and out.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Multi-point doors are more than two locks. They have a full-length strike plate with as many as 10 bolts in the side; some also have projections into the top of the door frame. Like any security measure, they're only part of the system of protection.

Illustration: HMIDoors.com

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 3:00PM
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If you want to price out another option as well...

We recently ordered some new windows from Andersen Renewal, and while the rep was here we asked about front doors. He pointed us to the ProVia Signet line, similar to Therma-tru (which I have read good reviews about.) One thing I like about ProVia is that they offer the option of storm/screen doors. (I really like having the front door open with the screen door there when the weather is nice. I also like having a storm door.)

We priced out a door with sidelights, transom, and the storm door and it came to about $10-11K. Haven't seen in person or ordered, but thought I'd post this in case you want to look at another option.

Here is a link that might be useful: ProVia Signet

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Front doors do pose a number of challenges. These range from an inviting and pleasant entry to one that has resonable security, to one that has some degree of natural lighting and the ability for occupants to see who is at the front door before opening it. Maybe there are more issues!

One approach is to have a solid core door with appropriate hardware and a transom window above the door. This will provide the necessary degree of security and some lighting into the interior.

I also prefer narrow side lights, seperated from the door frame by a 4 X 4 post on either side, which allows a view to the exterior and the opportunity to see who is there. The 4 X 4 posts give sufficient strength for most situations other than a forced entry by an armored personnel carrier!

The side lights can be narrow enough to prevent entry, if broken and the interior door hlocking ardware, with more than one deadbolt control if desired, can be designed to make it difficult to impossible for easy entry from the outside. Combined with a house security system, this should suffice for most folks.

I suspect most buglars don't enter through the front door anyway!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:58PM
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I agree with "rrah" above. You will be happier if both doors can open, just for guests' expectation that they both open...as well as moving furniture in and out. Also, I agree with others' observation not to use patio style doors for an entry door.

Here is a link that might be useful: Entry Doors - Alternative Options

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 1:04PM
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I suspect most buglars don't enter through the front door anyway!

Only a third.

One good boot to the door is enough to break in the latch on a quality one-inch throw deadbolt.

And now even the most drug-addled intruders remember to cut the phone lines first. (That's why I've used a cell-monitored service since they were introduced.)

This post was edited by worthy on Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 14:58

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:11PM
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Thanks everyone for all of the replies. It looks like we will be going with a traditional entry door - single with two side lights.

Does anyone have an opinion on quality for the Therma-tru vs Masonite Fiberglass entry doors? I am leaning towards the Therma-tru because the multi-point locking system is part of the door already.

I like the Provia doors too but I have a feeling they will be out of our price range. We need to keep the entry door to under 3K.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Go with the Therma-Tru, a much better quality door than Masonite!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Don't want to threadjack, but I was thinking about front door security the other day. If you have a door with a single sidelight, would it be strange to put the sidelight on the opposite side of the door handle? It seems that would be a little more secure (can't break sidelight and reach in to unlock the door, and the deadbolt will be stronger).

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 1:27PM
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I didn't know about multi-point doors -- I was very interested to learn. To point out the obvious, this'd be a great choice for the garage-to-house door (which is more attractive to a burgler because he isn't so exposed to the world while he's breaking in); however, if you're looking at a front door with a sidelight, it provides no additional protection. If the burgler puts his elbow through the sidelight and turns the latch, he's unlocking all the "points" at once.

I didn't check the price of these locks, but I'm sure they're expensive. I think they'd totally be worth the cost for the garage-to-house door. Not so much for the front door.

I'm sure of the bottom line though: A door, any door, can be broken -- if the thief is determined enough. If a burgler has targeted you personally, he's going to get into your house. However, few of us are going to be personally targeted. Most burglers are going to pick a house because it looks less secure than the others around it. So the key is to have a good, overall plan: Certainly the door is a key component in the plan, but a backyard fence, automatic lighting, and good windows are also important players.

For most of us, the back door -- so often a sliding glass door or French doors -- is the weak point in our house's armor. That's the one that's hard to defend.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 9:40AM
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"If you have a door with a single sidelight, would it be strange to put the sidelight on the opposite side of the door handle?"

No, I don't think it'd look weird at all. ProVia sells them that way, so it can't be particularly nonstandard. Check out the mockup I just did on the ProVia website--IMHO it looks great! :)

This post was edited by ideagirl2 on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 17:23

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:22PM
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