From my experience over the years designing exterior remodels, there is one update that packs a HUGE punch when it comes to instantly transforming the exterior of home and that’s replacing a front door that’s dated or not the right style for the home. Today I’m walking you through how I select the ideal front door style for my clients, the costs of a new front door and I’m also sharing images of front door styles that will instantly update your home.
When I take my first look at an exterior re-design project, more often than not, the first thing I usually notice is either the front door style is outdated or the door isn’t the right design style for the home. About 90% of the homes that I am asked to look at fall into these two categories because exterior re-designs are always older homes. What’s interesting is that my clients usually KNOW that something is “off” on the exterior of their home (which is why they call me) but they can’t pinpoint the issue when first talking with me about the project. The reason is that it’s hard to see and be objective on our own homes and spot design/scale/dated issues.
I’m going to show you how you can objectively spot these issues.
Front Door Costs
Often times, people never consider replacing their front door because they THINK it would be too expensive to make a change.There are so many inexpensive exterior door options out there that most of my clients are surprised when I tell them just how affordable it is to get a gorgeous updated new front door. Of course, it’s obviously more expensive than simply painting/changing the front door color but the benefit of instantly updating an old or wrong style door can have a HUGE impact on the exterior and curb appeal of a home.
One of the biggest reasons that exterior doors are less expensive today is that solid fiberglass doors are now more widely available and there are a lot more mass producers of doors of all materials than ever before. Solid fiberglass is usually less expensive and can look just like solid wood when painted. While a solid wood door is beautiful, the cons far outweigh the pros long-term in my opinion when it comes to wood. Wood doors are not the most energy efficient and wood requires constant maintenance, especially if you live in humid or harsh weather areas. Wood can can split and dry out over time (like my front door did), requiring costly refinishing. However, if you have your heart set on a wood door, there are beautiful wood door options on the market starting at $700 and going up from there.
This gorgeous unfinished mahogany door below with glass panels is only $799.00 through Wayfair and it has fantastic reviews!
Fiberglass door manufacturers have come a long way just in the last few years and while fiberglass may sound like it would be cheap looking, the fiberglass exterior door option is now the most popular door material used in new construction. In fact, I recently switched from a solid wood door myself to solid fiberglass because there is no maintenance, they are the most energy efficient material and can look just like wood when painted. A solid fiberglass door can last up to 15 or 20 years without needing ANY repairs, painting or adjustments and the cost of a decent solid fiberglass front door starts around $500. In fact, my new solid fiberglass glass doors (below) cost $1,000 for a double set.
If you’ve avoided the idea of replacing your front door because you think it would be too expensive, do a little research and look at pricing online for the door you want. I promise, you will be surprised at the surprisingly affordable options.
Identifying the Ideal Front Door Style for your Home
You don’t have to be a design expert to determine the ideal front door style for your home. You just need to be open to the possibilities, which I admit can be a challenge when we’ve looked at our homes for so long.
The first thing you are going to want to do is search your home style on Pinterest or Google images using search terms like; “exterior ranch home”, “exterior modern farmhouse”, “exterior craftsman style home”, etc.. If you don’t know the style of your home, you can look through this site of house plans to help you identify. Look for images of homes similar to the look of your home. For example, my home is an Acadian home style.
Once you figure out your home style and find images of homes similar to yours (it’s helpful to look at new construction), you will begin to see a pattern of front door styles and then envision the possibilities for your own home.
For my Acadian style home, squared off double French glass doors/windows across the front porch is the staple of the Acadian home style and also the latest new construction trends for this style of home. Had I just had two large windows and a solid wood front door, I would easily be able to identify after looking through similar home styles online that the solid wood door was not at all indicative of the Acadian style and I would know to look at glass front door options- if I was looking to identify the right door style for my home.
Some home styles have a variety of different front door options that would work. In that situation, look at the scale of your home in proportion to your front door. For example, I ran across this new home below in the final stages of construction and while I LOVED the home, both the scale AND style of the door is wrong for this home. In person, this home is a large two-story home with large windows but the front door is only a narrow almost solid door that looks so small/narrow in comparison to the large scale of the home. Also, the door style is a trademark “Craftsman” door style but this home is 100% modern farmhouse. Not to say that sometimes crossing door design styles CAN work. It just doesn’t work at all in this case.
What needed to be done is the door casing/frame should have been opened as far as it could go (you can see in the picture above that there is plenty of room and I saw in person that there was room on both sides) and two double glass paned (modern farmhouse style) or one wide large glass door(s) hung.
I photoshopped the look below to show you what a difference it makes. It changes everything!
If this home was older and I was hired to re-design the exterior, that’s exactly what I would have recommended. I see this situation all of the time, especially in older homes that there is room to open up door frames/remove sidelights to add either double doors or a wider door. It’s not hard to do and a good contractor can do it in just a couple hours. I will you tell you from my experience, it’s a game changer and worth every penny if you have that same situation.
By the way, the trademark Craftsman front door is better suited for the home below. It fits the style and scale of this smaller Craftsman cottage home style perfectly!
Consider Double Front Doors
As I mentioned above, 90% of the homes I look at for exterior redesign have room to either expand the door frame and/or remove sidelights to make room for two narrower double glass doors, which will instantly transform and update a home. I had that same situation in my own home with not only room to widen the door frame but also extra room for two doors after removing side lights.
Below is my home before our recent remodel.
You can see below that not only did they widen my door frame an addition 3-4 inches on both sides, they also removed my side lights allowing me room for two smaller double French doors. Better yet, I also added a transom above the doors to make the doors appear even bigger and taller and to bring in more natural light.
My home is so much brighter and I just love all of the natural light now flooding into our home. I use to have to have my lights on during the day and now I never have them on with all of the great natural light.
Right now, large single glass (or glass with panes) or two narrow double glass doors are (by far) the most popular trends in front doors in new construction. In fact, I have never recommend a solid wood/fiberglass door without any glass panes at all in any of my remodel or new construction projects. The reason for this is everyone wants glass doors to bring in all that beautiful natural light that will fill a home. Plus, double doors will make an entry look a lot bigger and more to scale, especially for larger homes. There are also many different designs to fit any home style. If you’re concerned about privacy, there are so many beautiful privacy glass options available as well. Below are some privacy glass double door looks to consider.
If you have the room to add two double doors and don’t need privacy glass, below are pretty looks. These door styles would also be stunning as single wider doors with glass panes if you don’t have the room.
Just keep in mind if you’re looking at the double front door route to make sure that the style of door fits the style of your home. The great news is most of the double glass doors are timeless and work on almost any style of home. However, if you have a modern contemporary home, you’ll want to look at more modern styles.
Steel Grid Front Door Options
Another fantastic front door option that I have been doing a lot on older homes that need to be more modernized is steel/iron grid front doors. This is a great way to instantly update the exterior of a dated home with big impact. I do have to warn you, it can be a pricier option but I think it’s worth every penny when it comes to “modernizing” older homes.
Recently, we switched out the huge arched worn out and dated front door of a client’s 25 year old home with a steel grid framed custom made door. I didn’t square up the framing for the door and remodel because the arch best fit the look of the home.
Below is what their door looked like before the switch:
and the after…. (ps… I’ll be sharing the full exterior remodel in the next couple weeks)
Even if we didn’t paint and update the exterior, just switching out the front door to something modern like a steel grid door would still have made a big impact and instantly updated the home.
Steel/iron modern doors can run anywhere from $1000-$15,000 depending on if you have a standard door size or have to have something custom made.
If your home is older and you’re looking at ways to update your exterior, take a hard look at your front door and all of the options. It really is amazing what a difference it can make to switch out and update.
Thanks for stopping today friends! If you need help with exterior paint colors, check out my post highlighting how to select the perfect exterior color here.
I think your content is always so robust. Thanks for contributing your expertise.
Thank you for this post! I have contemplated changing the front door of my home, but have been astounded at the quotes I have received and the costs some of my friends have incurred to replace their front doors. How much should an installation cost?