Size and style are what’s ‘in’ for in-and-out

Doors provide entry, exit, privacy and security. But they do much more.
With rising energy costs and concern about the environment, homeowners are seeing doors as an energy-efficient line of defense.

Doors also add greatly to curb appeal, which can alter your home’s cosmetic look and improve resale.

In recent years, as houses have morphed into super-sized structures, homeowners have been prodded to make their doors proportionally larger, and door makers have responded with more materials, styles and embellishments than ever before.

Here are some things to consider:

Nope, it’s not your imagination. As kitchens and houses have gotten bigger, so have doors. Door heights have expanded to as tall as 120 inches, up from more traditional sizes like 80 and 96 inches. Widths, too, have been enlarged from 36 inches to 42 to 48.

One of your first decisions when it comes to doors is whether to go with readily available stock doors or more expensive custom ones. Buying stock doors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be scrimping on style, because door manufacturers are putting more emphasis on design.

“Even the new molded, medium density fiberboard doors are getting fancier,” says Angela Stricklind, of Mountain View Window & Door in Medford. “They’re looking like the old, Craftsman-style doors.”

When it comes to doors, wood is beautiful, but it has downsides. For one, it may warp or shrink, especially in the Northwest. If you go with wood doors be prepared by using the right stain and several coats of sealer, Stricklind says.

Better options, from a weather standpoint, might metal doors, metal-clad wood doors, and fiberglass doors.

A key factor when deciding on material is energy efficiency. Doors that swing outward can stop strong winds from pushing them in. Larger 2- to 3-inch thresholds also help stop strong winds from driving water inside. Doors with a multi-point locking system keep the frame in place, but such features may add as much as 50 percent to the cost.

From an insulation standpoint, fiberglass doors provide the most protection, Stricklind says, followed by steel. Even ornate glass doors, with triple layers of glass, insulate better than wood.

You’ve got lots of choices to consider when picking the look of your door. First, do you want it to swing in, out or slide? Second, do you want a single or double door?

You’re not done. Do you want it to consist of solid wood with one panel or more, all glass, or a combination of wood and glass? If you like the idea of a combination, decide whether you want the panes as sidelights, as a glass transom above, as ovals or as divided lights separated by grilles into smaller components. Also, decide if you want additional surface decoration such as carved wooden inlays or leaded glass.

The overall trend is to embellish doors with a greater number of panels and more intricate wood or glass detailing.

Knobs also have gotten fancier, with finishes in exotic oil-rubbed bronze, rustic dark-brown cast iron, hand-hammered Mediterranean or Tuscan styling, smooth satin, brushed nickel, pewter or copper.
Polished brass, once de rigueur, has lost ground, Stricklind says. “A lot of older folks go for brass, but brass is going away. The modern look is for silvers and blacks.

While exterior doors help establish the curb appeal of a home, the interior doors can make a big design impact, too. One newer trend is for doorframes to reach almost to the ceiling, to increase the feeling of spaciousness. Wider interior doors also are in vogue. Some building codes require them to permit wheelchairs to roll through.

Knob and lever finishes on interior doors reflect the same trends that exterior doors do. Brass has become outdated – newer looks include oil-rubbed bronze, polished chrome and satin nickel.