Why is choosing an exterior door important?
The utility of a front door is obvious: it’s how you enter and exit your home each day. But there’s more to it than that. A front door is more than just a door. It’s a portal. On the outside lies a world of endless possibility. On the inside, there’s a place you’ve worked to make your own. A place you’ve filled with love. A place where you know you are safe.
The front door is a site of many transitions: marriage, parenthood, adulthood all become real to us in a different way once we cross the threshold of our home—whether it’s as newlyweds, new parents bringing a baby home from the hospital, or as young adults leaving the nest for the first time. Front doors are more than just doors you come in and out of. They’re places where life’s big changes become real and concrete. Once we cross the threshold, life is never the same again.
They also keep you safe and protected from the outside world. It’s important that they stand up to the elements and can stand the test of time.
Your front door makes a crucial first impression to guests and friends. Front doors are the face you show the world. That’s why it’s important to choose a front door that’s beautiful, durable, and special to you.
What materials are used for exterior doors?
Exterior doors are available in many materials, but at RealCraft, we use wood and glass for ours. We offer twenty different wood species for exterior doors, with traditional and exotic options. All our wood species are suitable for exterior doors. Our glass is insulated to make it appropriate for exterior applications.
How long do exterior doors last?
When well cared for and properly installed, a high-quality exterior door lasts for decades. We choose premium materials like 100% solid wood and insulated glass, and use traditional joinery methods to improve the longevity of our exterior doors.
Buying an Exterior Door, Step by Step
Where’s this door going?
We talk about ‘front doors’ on this page, but you can use our exterior doors for a variety of applications. You can install them as front doors, or as side doors, back doors, storm doors, or doors to the garage. Wherever you need a sturdy, beautiful door, our doors will work.
What door design is right for you?
This is probably the most fun part of the process. You get the chance to think creatively and imaginatively and consider multiple options. Remember that the front door is one of the first things people notice about your home, and they can add value and curb appeal. So consider the overall architectural style of your home and what door styles would complement it. Front doors should align with the style and proportions of your home.
Think about whether or not you want an exterior door with glass—it allows natural light into your space and gives you a view of what’s outside. But it also isn’t as private as an all-wood door, so you’ll need to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each type of door.
We have a range of styles for exterior doors, from traditional, modern, minimalist, and rustic. Whatever your home looks like, you can find the door of your dreams with RealCraft. Choose a door that makes you happy when you see it. After all, you’re going to look at it every day!
Choose a Wood Species
Once you know the design you want, choose a wood species for it. We offer twenty different wood options, so you’re sure to find an option that perfectly fits your home. Our doors are made of solid wood. We don’t use shortcuts or substitutes. Only the real thing will do.
One of the reasons why we love real wood so much is that it retains the character of its environment. It’s good to know that different wood species will adapt to certain weather conditions better than others. For instance, a wood species that’s used to rainy, humid conditions is best for a home in a rainy environment.
Measure For Your Door and Choose a Hanging Option
If you’re getting a pre-hung door, that means the jamb is included. If you’re getting just the door slab, then it does not include the jamb. You will need to measure the spot where your door is going with this in mind. So you should first consider whether you want a pre-hung door, with the jamb, or just the door slab without a jamb.
For pre-hung doors you will need to measure the rough opening. The rough opening is the spot in the wall without jamb or trim—on the rough opening, you will see the studs in the wall. You will need to allow for some extra space for shims to be inserted—this keeps the jamb secure and square. We recommend getting a pre-hung exterior door as opposed to the door slab on its own because installing a new unit (door and jamb together) allows for the best possible fit. Plus, we make the jamb out of the same wood species as the door, for a beautiful finished look.
You will need to measure the width twice—at the top of the rough opening, and at the bottom. You will also need to measure the height twice—near the left top corner, and the right top corner, measured all the way down to the sub-floor. This is because there are often small differences in measurement and rough openings aren’t perfectly symmetrical. We make your door based on the smaller of the two measurements so that we can shim it into place.
You will also need to measure the rough opening depth, so we can make sure the door thickness is correct.
Remember, we can’t see the rough opening when you make an order with us. So it’s important to make sure your measurements are correct. When in doubt, you can also hire a contractor to help you. It’s worth it to avoid headaches in the future.
For a door slab on its own, we ask you to measure the opening where the door is going with the existing jamb, as well as the existing door slab.
Choose the Glass Style
We offer two options for glass: clear or etched. Clear is just what it sounds like—it’s transparent glass you can see right through, and it allows for maximum natural light. Etched glass has a frosted look for additional privacy and softer light. Both options are insulated for maximum resilience. If you want a custom glass option, we offer that too—call for more details.
Choose a Finish
We offer several custom options for wood finishes, but we have three that come standard for exterior doors. They are:
clear satin finish
oil stain finish
primer (you add the paint!)
We use Osmo for the clear satin and oil stain finishes. These products protect the woodwithout the flaking that can happen from plastic-based finishes. They also add a soft shine that looks natural and allows you to still feel the wood grain when you touch it.
Determine Door Handing
Door handing can be tricky because different companies use different terminology. We prefer to keep things simple. The best way to figure out the door handing is to stand with your back to the side of the door jamb/rough opening where the hinges will be. Then pretend that your arm is the door. If you want a door that opens to your left, it will be a left handed door. If you want a door that opens to your right, it will be a right handed door.
Determine Inswing vs Outswing
If your door is to be an inswing door, that means it will swing into the house. If it’s an outswing door, it will swing out from the house, towards the outside. About 90% of exterior doors are inswing. That’s because an inswing exterior door places the hinges on the inside of the house, where they’re protected from the elements. Outswing exterior doors must have hinges made from weather-resistant materials like stainless steel or brass.
Choose Your Hinges
We offer standard butt hinges in standard steel, brass-based, and stainless steel. Standard steel finishes can be finish matched. We offer them in rustic umber, bronze metallic, matte deep black, traffic white, satin nickel look, satin chrome look, or a stainless steel look.
Standard steel hinges are ideal for most inswing exterior doors. However, if you’re going to have an outswing door, you must have hinges that can stand up to the elements. We offer brass based or pure stainless steel butt hinges for this purpose. Pure stainless steel hinges are optimal for coastal environments because they won’t corrode.
If you’re looking for a luxe final look, we also offer concealed hinges. Concealed hinges are not visible when the door is closed. So they give your door a sleek, smooth look because there’s no visible hardware. Plus, they offer upgraded security because they can’t be messed with from the outside when the door is closed. Concealed hinges also allow for adjustments after hanging the door, whereas standard hinges don’t.
Choose Your Hinge Placement
We offer American or European hinge placement for our standard hinges. American hinge placement has the hinges spaced evenly—one at the top, one in the middle, one at the bottom. This hinge style has a symmetrical, pleasing look and is the typical choice in most homes in the United States.
European hinge placement top-loads the hinges, with two at the top of the door and one on the bottom. We recommend European hinge placement because it prevents the door from sagging over time. Putting more hinges toward the top of the door counteracts the pull of gravity more effectively. With European style hinge placement, your door is less likely to hang crooked over time.
Choose Boring Height for Doorknob and Deadbolt
One of the exterior door’s most important functions is that it locks. We offer boring for a doorknob, and for a doorknob and a deadbolt. We offer boring at 36” or 38” inches high.
Plan for Installation
We recommend that unless you are very experienced with home improvement projects or have a background in construction, you hire a contractor to install your new door. Paying a professional ensures that you avoid amateur mistakes that can cost even more in the long run. And if the door is installed well, that adds to its longevity, preventing problems like water damage. Typically it doesn’t take long to install a new door, whether it’s just the slab or pre-hung with the jamb. It usually takes a few hours. Reframing takes longer, up to a day or more.
Our doors are designed to be low maintenance. But you may need to make some tweaks here and there. If you live in a place that has big temperature changes between seasons, you may need to tighten or lubricate your hinges. You should also adjust the door sweep to make sure it keeps the door sealed against the elements. It may wear down with time and need to be adjusted.
Our hardwax finish options may need a refresh once every one to three years depending on exposure. Unlike plastic based varnishes, hardwax finishes don’t chip or flake off, so you don’t have to sand them to refinish. Simply clean the surface and reapply the finish, removing excess and rubbing in for best results.
If your door gets dirty (weather, pets, children, etc.) you can clean it with a gentle soap and water. If you have to clean the hinges for any reason, make sure they dry thoroughly.
When should you replace an exterior door?
There are a couple reasons why you may want to replace your existing door. The first is if the door is warped enough that it doesn’t function well, or if it’s too old to restore.
The second is if you’re deciding to remodel your home or change other aspects of the exterior, like paint, roof materials, or windows. Replacing the front door keeps everything cohesive and beautiful. It may even add to your home’s value, and it improves the curb appeal.
If you choose a RealCraft door, you can rest easy knowing our doors are built to last for decades.