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The front door of a home or business is the first line of defense against the elements and intruders. It is also the first thing the owners and visitors see. Choosing the right front door is important and a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before you even think about color, panels, and other stylings, you will need to select a material. There are three options for exterior doors: steel, wood, and fiberglass. Which one is the right choice for your home or business?

There are benefits to all three when it comes to wood vs. fiberglass vs. steel doors. Wood is inexpensive, traditional, and has a homey appearance. Fiberglass is stronger, looks similar to wood, and is fire-resistant. Steel is the strongest of the three providing unmatched security against the elements, and elevates a building with next-level looks. It is a decision that the property owner will live with for years, and you should choose the door that best fits your needs.

Wood vs. Fiberglass vs. Steel Doors and The Advantages of Each

Below we have compiled a quick comparison chart of the advantages of wood vs. fiberglass vs. steel doors.

Door Material

Wood

Fiberglass

Steel

Cost

Moderate to high

High

Low to moderate

Durability

Good, but requires maintenance

Good

Excellent

Insulation

Good

Excellent

Excellent if thermally broken

Security

Fair to good

Good

Excellent

Maintenance

Requires periodic painting or staining

Virtually maintenance-free, but could be ruined if scratched or dented

Virtually maintenance-free, but requires periodic painting or touch-ups if scratched or dented

Aesthetics

Classic, natural appearance

Can mimic wood or have a modern look

Can have a modern or industrial look

Sound insulation

Good

Good

Excellent

Environmental impact

Sustainable if harvested responsibly

Eco-friendly if made with recycled materials

Can be recycled but has high embodied energy

.

Wood Doors

Wood has been the standard material for doors for centuries. It is easy to work with, and anyone with a saw and tape measure can, in theory, build a working wood door. Although, in actuality, it takes a professional carpenter to build a decent-looking wood door and a trained or experienced installer to hang it so that it swings freely while locking securely. This sort of ease in theory and difficulty in practice also applies to wood door maintenance. In theory, anyone can remove a door’s old finish, apply a new one or repaint it, and have a refreshed new looking door that will last for years. In practice, homeowners don’t pay attention to their wood doors until they begin warping in their frames due to moisture absorption—usually because of degradation of the finish compromising its seal against the elements. At this point, it is probably too late to save the door.

Compared to steel and fiberglass doors, wood doors have the following disadvantages:

  • Maintenance: To prevent weathering, wood doors must be refinished every one to two years. This is often neglected, leading to damage.
  • Cracking and Warping: Wood is prone to warping and cracking when a worn and aged finish leads to prolonged exposure to the elements.
  • Efficiency: Wood doors can be energy efficient as long as they fit tightly in the frame. However, much of their energy efficiency is lost when they begin warping.
  • Security: Burglars can force their way through a wood door by splintering the door jamb near the strike plate. This is easier if the door has become warped or cracked due to exposure.

As wood is the most costly material for doors, the cycle of neglected maintenance is potentially quite expensive. This combination of issues has made exterior wood doors a rarity for homes. They are either holdovers on an older home or a costly specialty order on a newer home. Wood doors are nearly unheard of on commercial properties due to how they can create a security risk for a business.

Fiberglass and steel doors, on the other hand, don’t have the same maintenance issues. These materials aren’t as vulnerable to moisture in the outside environment and tend to last longer with lower requirements for maintenance. Pound for pound, they are also much sturdier than wood leading to enhanced security for the property from both the external environment and possible intruders. The tradeoff for this enhanced security is that both steel and fiberglass doors require specialized skills and tools to work with.

Comparing Steel Doors vs. Fiberglass Doors

Steel and fiberglass are materials that, while common, aren’t worked with by people every day. They require specialized know-how, tools, and materials to work with. The paint that will bond to wood won’t last when applied to the smoother surfaces of steel and fiberglass. This means that while it is possible for a homeowner to refinish or repair a wood door, a steel or fiberglass door will need a professional to perform everything but the most basic maintenance.

The advantage, though, is that these doors require much less maintenance than equivalent wooden ones—sometimes lasting for decades from installation without additional maintenance being needed. They are also vastly stronger than wood doors. However, in a direct comparison between fiberglass vs. steel doors, steel doors have many advantages over fiberglass. These include:

  • Aesthetics: By looks alone, it can be difficult to tell the difference between steel and fiberglass. Both come in many styles, including smooth and wood-grain textures. You can also find steel and fiberglass doors with insulated glass inserts and bi-fold designs. However, steel doors are a sought-after look all on their own, while most fiberglass doors are trying to look like wood.
  • Durability: While fiberglass is designed to last many years, steel is the strongest, most durable door material on the market. High-quality steel products with coatings not only won’t crack or warp but also are resistant to scratching and denting that can lead to corrosion.
  • Maintenance: Fiberglass is difficult to refinish if it is damaged. Even if the damage is minor, it must be done by a professional. If something does manage to put a hole into a fiberglass door, it needs to be replaced. Minor scratching to a steel door can be spot painted. Deeper scratches can be fixed by priming and repainting. This can also be done for purely cosmetic reasons. Dents can also be puttied to restore a new appearance.

While both are stronger than wood equivalents, steel doors are far and away stronger than fiberglass. This is an advantage when securing a home against the elements and for securing a property against potential intruders. The biggest advantage of steel doors is that they are often more reasonably priced than fiberglass equivalents. When they are more expensive than fiberglass, the reason is often that these are custom doors that are offering properties far more than off-the-shelf wood vs. fiberglass vs. steel equivalents can.

The Advantages of Custom Steel Doors for Homes and Commercial Properties

Steel doors have their own appeal. The strong look of black steel framed glass has been desired on properties since the early industrial age, and this appeal has only grown as modern architecture has embraced simple lines and clean views. This is a far cry from wood doors, whose aesthetics largely stem from tradition, or fiberglass, which often tries to mime the look of wood doors. In the aesthetics of wood vs. fiberglass vs. steel doors, it is steel that stands on its own merits both in terms of strengths and appearance. Steel doors bring more than strength and lasting durability to a home’s exterior. They bring a timeless style all their own.

Elegant French Steel Doors From The French Steel Company

The French Steel Company’s doors and windows transform both the appearance and livability of a home. Their beauty is more than skin deep, combining the durability and timeless look of steel and glass with modern thermal breaking that improves the efficiency of home heating and cooling. We have offices in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., but we sell our products throughout the U.S., so you can enjoy top-quality French Steel doors no matter where you live or work. 

For an even more in-depth comparison between wood vs. fiberglass vs. steel doors, Contact us and let us show you what elegant French Steel can do for your home or business.

French Steel’s doors and windows transform both the appearance and livability of a home. Their beauty is more than skin deep, combining the durability and timeless look of steel and glass with modern thermal breaking that improves the efficiency of home heating and cooling.

For more information on steel doors vs. wood & fiberglass, contact French Steel to start planning your home transformation.

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