Can Anyone Recommend A Good Source for Exterior Doors?

LaurieApril 21, 2012

A little background first.

I have a 1915 mostly Craftsman style home. I say mostly, because it can't be totally pinpointed in that style.

It's 2-story, 4-square, with a stone foundation, stone chimney, tapered porch columns, a deep porch, lots of original Chestnut woodwork, etc. However, it also has some Victorian elements - bay shaped window in the dining room and master bedroom, a some fancy romantic kind of Grecian plaster inserts in the fireplace and living room that are totally out of character for a Craftsman, the plaster walls have been hand done in a swirl pattern, etc.

The exterior, is stucco and it's built over terra cotta block. This, is very unusual in New Jersey and has caused some problems during renovations to say the least. When we installed cable, they almost couldn't drill through the house to run the service inside. Unbelievable.

I'm guessing the house was custom built (as has my old boss, an architect and others that have seen it) and done to the whims of someone with some wealth at the time since it is very unique in my neighborhood, in fact, in the entire area. I haven't seen one single other home that looks anything like it other than a couple of towns over - and that house is at least double the size of mine.

Ok, so you get the picture. The house was in awful condition when I took possession. So bad, that I had to replace every window (30 in total). Everything had to be custom sized; all of the windows were odd sizing. The exterior doors also were/are in poor condition but didn't need immediate attention and I just now am dealing with them. They too, as it turns out are not sized to pick them out of a catalog - have to be custom ordered. Plus, all of the masonry surrounding them needs repairing as well so the cost is jacked up because of it.

So, I had 3 of them replaced already and can't say I'm thrilled about the choices I made, let alone it turned out to be horribly pricey because of the masonry repairs associated with it. Two don't really matter; they were the detached garage door and the side door to the basement. Both, I chose basic fiberglass for durability and cost; the garage one has paned glass in it. They look fine, had them painted a nice color.

The 3rd one is a French door leading off a bedroom onto a 2nd floor balcony. This one, I'm very disappointed in. I picked it out of a catalog, at my contractor's recommendation. The contractor, is someone I've been working with for a couple of years now and trust completely. But, geez, this was really not a good door for my needs. I didn't mind it being fiberglass but the panes were not real panes as it turns out - which I had no idea was the case. It looks cheesy, although, it is well built. I got really good hardware to dress it up that matches the interior existing antique hardware so that helps, but then we had the house painted and the painter literally butchered the painting of that door. I was furious. He did finally rectify it as best as possible - it looks ok now, but not fantastic. The door can't be replaced - it cost a fortune since it was custom sized.

Live and learn.

Anyway, I'm trying hard NOT to repeat this mistake again. If I'm going to have to have the rest of them custom done, I may as well get the right door for my money next time.

I have two more doors to go. One is my front door. It is covered by the porch. I also need a screen door, although that isn't entirely necessary but I do like the idea of being able to keep the front door open and having a glass/screen door during nicer weather to see outside. The existing door isn't the original door.

The other door, is the one which leads from my living room to a porte cochere. This door, is currently the original heavy French door. I need this door to be quite secure, but, good looking, since currently the porte cochere serves as a patio area that can be easily accessed by trespassers (eventually we'll be doing something to close it up somewhat, like lattice or more bushes just to make it less inviting for people to walk up to that door). I don't think I want it to be a full glass door any longer, since we use the living room all the time; the house is small and has no family room. We'd like it to have some privacy but do want glass in it to let light into the room. When we bought the home the prior owner had the door boarded up, it has a plate on the outside of it because the glass in the door was broken in many places and unsafe to use.

I've tried looking around, even for antique doors but again, the problem has been that the masonry/door jambs need a lot of work as well. So, any links anyone can give me that I may not know about would be highly appreciated. I do work in the business (architecture) and I think I've exhausted all of the usual sources.


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I picked up the current issue of American Bungalow magazine yesterday and there's a screen door ad in there...I love the door. Here it

What's wrong with your front door? Can the fix be accomplished by redoing the weatherstripping? I'd go that route and try and keep the door if possible. Otherwise, Simpson Doors are a good place to look. is a good source for spring bronze weatherstripping.

For your living room, I'd stay with a french door style - windows and muntins. If you get a door with less window area, it's going to look like you have a front door in the room. Simpson has these, too.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:29AM
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The front door is just ugly aside from not being very weather tight. During the winter it leaks a lot of cold air from all sides of it. It's a solid core door, that has been dinged up through the years, no window either. We want something which will let in light to the hallway. Plus, the existing screen door, is a cheap one with fake stained "glass" in it and is falling apart.

We recently painted it which improved it's appearance dramatically but doesn't take care of the problems it has. Plus it does nothing for the overall appearance of the home. We've been able to stop some of the air leakage with weather stripping, but because of the way the lock is installed it tends to jamb and not close properly if we use enough to really make it as leakproof as it needs to be.

Thanks for the links for the French door tho. I do agree with you on the point of it going to look like a front door in the living room if I use something else - which has been part of my problem all along and why we haven't yet jumped into replacing this one. I want to make sure I pick the absolute right door here or it's going to really look terrible!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:25PM
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Simpson does make a lot of nice looking, Craftsman type of doors with lights or without. But, I would check your local building supply/clearance type of places. There's one local to me who has a Simpson door for $350, in regular and odd sizes. You don't say what size you need?

The other option I'd try is your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore or other type of salvage place. Many of the local ones will keep an eye out if you have a specific size in mind. My original Craftsman front door is almost 44 inches wide- very difficult to find, yet one day, there it was, almost identical door at the local ReStore, for $100! Mine is in great shape, but I'm still kicking myself for not buying that one and storing it in the basement for possible future use! New doors are nice, but I doubt they would hold up as nicely as an old one, if you could find the right one. Much nicer on the budget too.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:47PM
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You might call Larry at Hardware Design in Fairfield, NJ. He is extremely helpful and sells doors as well as kitchen and bath. I believe the website is

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Awesome! Thanks so much for the link!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:10PM
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