Often overlooked, the entrance door is a critical part of any home, protecting the inside of the home from undesirable weather and intruders. Front entry doors can add style to any home and easily become a focal point on the house’s facade. Like windows, entrance doors have evolved to have some nifty features.

Frame

Similar to a window, a door requires a frame to be installed in a rough opening. The door frame holds the hinges and part of the locking mechanism. The top of the frame is usually called a head, the sides are called jambs, and the bottom is the sill, or threshold. On frames for double doors, there can also be a mullion in the middle. Door frames are typically made from wood, but can also be found in steel and machined fibreboard. Finger-jointed wood frames tend to be cost-effective, strong, plus they reduce warping over time. A door frame must be installed plumb to ensure that the door can operate smoothly, and all the locking mechanisms can function right.

A door installer working on a brown door with a Sidelite.
Similar to a window, a door requires a frame to be installed in a rough opening. The door frame holds the hinges and part of the locking mechanism.

When a new front door is installed, it will typically come with a door frame. Most often, the slab is pre-hung onto the door frame at the factory, for a perfect fit and alignment of hardware. It also allows installers to simply remove the old door and install the complete new door assembly in the rough opening.

Slab

The slab of the door is what most people would know as the door. It also goes by the name of leaf. The slab can be made from a range of materials, including steel, wood, fibreglass, and aluminium. Steel doors tend to be the most cost-effective and durable option, plus the newer insulation technologies keep them up to date. Depending on the supplier, slabs can come pre-finished in a range of affordable standard colours, or painted at the factory or in a professional paint shop to match any colour. Door slabs care available in various styles and panel configurations, and can be further customized in different sizes, glass inserts, and finishes.

Shopping for a door is often takes more time than shopping for windows, as the range of possible door styles is virtually limitless. Often times, to make things more confusing, window and door companies will work with a multiple door and glass suppliers, and each company with have their own “catalogue” of doors.

Transom

A transom is actually the horizontal structural beam separating a door from a window above it, however it has become a common term for the actual window above the door. Transoms add magnitude to the home entrance. They are a great way to allow a lot of natural light inside, creating an inviting and visually ampler indoor space.

Just like entry door inserts, transoms can be customized to match a wide range of styles. They can be rectangular or custom shaped, they can take internal grilles or simulated divided lite muntins, and they can be made with decorative glass like the door inserts. For most applications in Canada, transoms are supplied as fixed windows. It means that these windows cannot be opened.

Sidelites

Sidelites (also spelled sidelights) are what they sound like - glazed openings beside the door slab. Like transoms, they bring more light indoors and can allow seeing outside. They can also be just a fixed window, but they can also be a slab with an opening for a glass insert. Some opt for hinged window sidelites for extra ventilation, but those come with a higher risk of intrusion or damage from water ingress. A sidelite can allow light in while providing privacy with textured glass, or match the door insert’s decorative glass design.

Hardware

The hardware of your entry door is likely the component on your door that will take the hardest wear. There are a variety of pieces that make up the hardware of your entry door, from handles to locks and hinges and more.

A door installer working on a brown door with a Sidelite.
Locks and handsets are the pieces that keep your door closed and locked. Handles can be levered, fixed at two points as gripsets, or as turning knobs.

Locks and Handlesets

Locks and handsets are the pieces that keep your door closed and locked. Handles can be levered, fixed at two points as gripsets, or as turning knobs. It is best when the lock and gripset come as a matching set. Available in a variety of styles and configurations, these pieces are typically made from metal - the thicker the better - that is coated or otherwise finished in a variety of styles. Locks are now available in programmable electronic versions as well, with remote connectivity from mobile devices.

Weatherstripping

Quality, high performance weatherproofing in your entry door will keep your home warm and dry for years. Exterior doors can be the perfect place for drafts to originate and for water to leak inside. Weatherstripping is usually applied around the interface where the slab meets the frame. It’s typically an elastic material like rubber that makes an airtight seal by compression when the door is shut. Weatherstripping can also be magnetic, just like in a fridge, or a plain brush strip that does not offer much sealing. Weatherstripping is a component of an entry door that wears over time. Inspecting your weatherstripping regularly, as well as checking for drafts during bad weather, will give you a good indication as to when it needs replacing.

Finishing Touches

On the inside, doors use casing to cover the gap between the door frame and the rough opening. Different moulding profiles, sizes, and decorative elements, are available, to create a specific style. It’s always best to match the door casing to other detailing in your home’s interior. On the outside, a brickmould can protrude to cover a bit of the exterior wall, or aluminium or vinyl capping can be applied during the installation to wrap around a wooden door trim. Capping tends to look best when best pre-finished to match the door slab. Finally, the silicone-based adhesive compounds used to caulk the door can come in a variety of colours, to blend with the door, the wall cladding, or to complement these.

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