Exterior Doors For Building

A door is a moving mechanism used to block off, and allow access to, an entrance to or within an enclosed space, such as a building, room or vehicle. There are several kinds of door styles and materials that are being used for modern houses. The door selection is influenced by the type and style of building where they will be fitted. The major door materials are wood, fiberglass, and steel. However, the external door has a special significance.

The original doors were simple methods for concealing cave fronts and for arranging safety from wild animals and rough weather. Even today, the basic human requirement is security, privacy, and cover from harsh weather. However, door manufacturers today present multiple options of traditional external front doors, thermal curtains, and patio doors with blinds, due to which the door selection becomes involved. Former doors were made from stones, with hinges at the bottom and top. Current door quality depends upon the material used and the installation technique. Wood and fiberglass are generally expensive materials, while steel is comparatively cheaper.

The requirements of doors are influenced basically by their application, the human aesthetic approach, and the economic factors. The important factors that are normally considered for door selection are:

Style And Appearance
The doors at entrance are the initial observations that create an impact regarding the building.Often, the entrance door style is reflected in the other house doors.

Thermal Efficiency
Thermal effects of doors are considered while selecting door materials, and door styles. Modern doors have R value ratings that represent thermal efficiency. It is an evaluation of the material thermal resistance. Normally, it is ratio of temperature variation across the insulator and heat flux.

The real placing of windows and doors has a huge effect on the house ventilation. Poor design will increase the energy bill. Some doors include inherent openings for suitable ventilation even with the door in a closed position. This is feasible on the external doors.

Fire Safety
The door placing mitigates the door fire hazards. There are building regulations that require specific distances to be maintained to an exit. This is the distance required to be run when fire breaks out. Public buildings have doors and frames with specific fire ratings. Furthermore, these doors open outwards.

The doors should be adequately illuminated to obtain maximum advantage of the natural light. Therefore, doors may have glass panels, or may be constructed totally from glass.

Closely linked to security is the door and frame strength. Expensive locks will not be effective on the external doors if the door panels are not correspondingly strong.

A large variety of door materials are available for selection. The choice will depend upon the type of building where the door is to be fitted, internal or external use, weather conditions, and above all, human choice. The most common materials that are used are wood, glass, and fiberglass. The main distinction between the door materials is aesthetic. Some people may desire real wood, compared to the simulated grains on wood.

However, with the advancement in technology, grains on fiberglass can be simulated to match real wood. A wood door is generally prepared from thin plywood, or laminate materials on either side. The panels are usually made of thick plywood and wooden pieces. This is a useful method for preparation of wood doors. The exposure of wooden doors to the weather effects may deteriorate the materials.

It will require frequent maintenance. The plywood or laminates cannot be sanded, or only seldom sanding may only be possible. The top layers will absorb moisture and damage the inner material. The other kind of wood door is made from pure wood. Wood doors are heavy, secure, durable, and beautiful. Sanding and refinishing of wood doors is possible that will improve their appearance and durability. However, wood doors are extremely expensive.

Here are some of the variables that will affect how sensible it is to add a door, how difficult, and the cost of the project:
  1. Will the new door be pleasing visually as part of the exterior elevation of the house? Sometimes an added door makes sense from the inside, but looks odd from the outside, and detracts from the value of the home instead of adding to it. You may need to do some additional reworking of the details and trim of the exterior wall around the new door to make it fit in.
  2. Windows provide ventilation and doors do not. Will the reduction of ventilation for the room be acceptable?
  3. Is there sufficient roof overhang to protect the door from weather? A door will not survive for long under a two-foot overhang that would be adequate for a window. You may need to provide additional roof overhang or an awning.
Can you find a door, or pair of doors, that fits the width of the existing window? Exterior doors today are sold prehung, with the door frame already installed around the door and hinges in place, so you can take the total width of the prehung door with frame plus an additional allowance for shimming it into place to find a door that fits the opening. A wood stud wall with an exterior siding material (such as plywood panels or horizontal siding of vinyl, wood, or fiber cement) is the easiest construction type for cutting a window down to the floor and installing a door. There is a wood beam over the window, called a header, that transfers the weight of the wall and roof system above it to the sides of the opening, where there are double-studs for support. If you can leave all of that in place, it will save you money. 

You can also install a door that is smaller than the opening, with a side light or panel on one or both sides, or simply use a wide trim detail on the sides. 

Installing a door bigger than the the existing opening involves cutting out the existing header and side studs while supporting the roof structure above it with screw-jacks and installing a completely new structural framework around the opening. Much more expensive.

Putting a door into a window location in a concrete block wall requires cutting out the block below the window with a concrete saw. Installing a door wider than the existing window is a much more difficult project that involves removing the existing concrete header and installing a new one, while also supporting the roof structure above it with screw jacks. Also much more expensive.
  1. How far is it to the ground at the outside? You will need to provide a landing at a minimum, and possibly several steps or a stair.
  2. There is likely an electrical conduit or cable running horizontally somewhere below the window, connecting receptacles around the room. It will have to be rerouted by an electrician. 
  3. All exterior doors for entry to a home are required by the building code to have two switches on the interior of the wall near the door: one turns on an exterior light so you can safely see where you are walking as you exit, and the second one turns on an interior light so you don’t stumble over furniture in the dark as you enter the room. They must be included as part of the new door installation.
  4. If you have a security system, the new door will have to be wired into the system by the alarm company.
  5. A building permit and inspection is required for a window to door conversion. If you live in a neighborhood with a mandatory homeowner’s association, you may also have to submit a plan for the project for their approval.
Still gung-ho about adding a door to your home after all these considerations? Good! It can be an excellent home improvement project if carefully planned in advance, and done by a skilled building contractor.

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