When it’s time to replace your home’s entry doors, or if you are deciding on entry doors for new construction, you have several options. Recent advancements in technology and design have placed fiberglass entry doors at the top of many consumer’s lists.
Below, we’ll discuss the most important things to know when deciding if a fiberglass entry door is right for your needs.
What is a Fiberglass Entry Door?
A fiberglass entry door is made up of a fiberglass shell wrapped around structural supports and polystyrene insulation. This video shows how they are constructed.
Fiberglass Entry Doors are most often sold as pre-hung door systems. A pre-hung door system includes a door already mounted to a frame with everything needed to act as an entryway once the frame is installed into a rough opening.
Fiberglass vs. Steel vs. Wood Entry Doors
The list of pros regarding fiberglass entry doors is quite a bit more impressive than the list of cons. However, there are some things to consider before making a commitment.
Let’s take a look at the important properties of fiberglass entry doors and stack them up against their steel and wood competitors.
Fiberglass entry doors
Steel entry doors
Wood entry doors
difficult to be damaged
subject to rust
subject to many issues
low maintenance required
need vigilant maintenance
any look you desire
real wood look
A major consideration when replacing or installing any exterior component of a home is how well an item is insulated against the outdoors. R-value is a number assigned to an object to rate the quality of its insulating ability, also known as its energy efficiency. The higher the R-value number, the better the insulating ability.
An entry door takes up a relatively small surface area of an exterior wall. Most energy loss regarding doors is contributed to how much air leaks around the door rather than through the door. However, R-value remains an important factor for overall energy efficiency.
Fiberglass entry doors are very energy efficient. Their average R-value is R-5 to R-6. The fiberglass material itself is also not a good conductor of heat, so the door “feels” like it is well insulated. Windows in the door will somewhat lower the insulating ability of the door.
The R-value of steel doors is similar to fiberglass doors. Steel, however, is an excellent heat conductor so the insulating properties will always be slightly less than in comparable fiberglass doors.
Wood entry doors are poor insulators. They typically have an R-value of a R-3 or lower.
Bottom Line: Fiberglass entry doors are slightly more energy efficient than steel entry doors. Wood entry doors are the least energy efficient.
Entry doors are expensive and can be difficult to replace. How often they need to be replaced or repaired is important when making a decision about what kind of entry door to install.
Fiberglass entry doors are difficult to significantly damage. The doors do not warp or bend due to temperature or humidity. They have a strong resistance to scratches and fading. Factory applied finishes increase its scratch and fade resistance.
If repair is needed, it is a relatively simple process using fiberglass repair compound or similar products.
Most fiberglass entry door warranties cover its life-span. Estimates of the expected life-span of a fiberglass entry door range anywhere from 20 years to 100.
If a fiberglass door is struck very hard, it may crack. If so, the door will need to be repaired or replaced. Repairs are often difficult to conceal as such.
Steel entry doors are difficult to damage. Their scratch resistance depends on the quality of the finish used on them. Surface-deep scratches are relatively easy to fix to near perfection.
Steel doors are prone to dents and rust. Rust can be easy to repair if it is recognized early enough. Rust left unattended can do great damage and the door may need to be replaced.
A poorly maintained steel door will not last long. A well cared for steel door can last up to, and beyond, 100 years.
Wood is less strong and durable than steel or fiberglass. Wood is a natural material and is subject to expansion, contraction, warping, and cracking as moisture levels and temperatures change.
However, with proper and diligent maintenance these doors can last a lifetime or longer. Modern advancements in protective finishes are making maintaining wood entry doors easier and more effective against the elements.
Bottom Line: With proper maintenance, fiberglass, steel, and wood entry doors can last over 100 years. Steel entry doors require less maintenance than wood to achieve longevity. Fiberglass entry doors have only existed since the 1980’s. Their true durability has not been tested long-term yet.
How much time and energy is required to keep an entry door looking good and functioning properly is something to keep in mind when making your choice.
Fiberglass entry doors need little to no maintenance. Occasional scratch repairs may be required, but other than that, they are considered maintenance-free. Some bolder finishes may experience color fading over time.
Regarded as maintenance-free, or very low maintenance required, steel entry doors are almost as easy to maintain as fiberglass. A factory-applied finish will last for many years without any concerns.
Periodic checks and repairs on blemishes in the finish will deter rust from developing.
Often, a storm door is installed in conjunction with a steel entry door. This can help reduce the need for maintenance even more.
Vigilant maintenance is required on wood entry doors. The natural material is filled with microscopic voids and holes which trap moisture and become the source of door failure. Every several years a wood entry door will need to be re-stained or re-painted to keep it functioning as it should.
The installation of a storm door along with a wood entry door reduces, but does not eliminate, the need for a high-level of maintenance.
Bottom Line: Wood entry doors need vigilant maintenance. Steel and Fiberglass entry doors have low maintenance requirements.
Without considering all of the other factors involved when deciding which entry door to put into your home, how it looks, may be the most important.
Fiberglass entry doors come in a huge variety of designs, textures, and finishes. It is possible to purchase almost any look you desire. Modern door building technology has elevated fiberglass doors to rival the best that wood doors have to offer. They are also available in smooth textured varieties for a modern look.
The appearance of a fiberglass entry door is largely determined by the amount of money you’re willing to spend on it.
Steel doors are still very popular for their appearance alone. Steel doors offer a clean look. They can be painted any color. Steel does not accept stain, though, and is therefore limited to a painted finish. A common look is a textured appearance made to mimic wood.
Steel doors come in a huge variety of styles to suit whatever look you are trying to achieve.
Wood entry doors are the appearance standard. Homeowners who purchase wood entry doors tend to do so because they like the look and feel of real solid wood.
Wood doors are customizable to any size and shape. Options for finishing are many as well. From a
Because they are made from natural materials, the grain patterns and textures make each door a one-of-a-kind item.
Bottom Line: Wood entry doors win the appearance category. Fiberglass is an excellent imitator of wood, and steel is a good imitator. However, they are both trying to look like the real thing.
Fiberglass vs. Steel Entry Doors Bottom Line
Mostly for their nearly complete lack of necessary maintenance, fiberglass entry doors win against the longtime leader, steel. Fiberglass and steel doors are pretty evenly matched
Steel gains the most benefit from having the protection of a storm door in front of it. If the appearance of a storm door on your home doesn’t excite you, fiberglass is the way to go.
There is a price difference. For comparable doors made of fiberglass or steel, the fiberglass one will cost an average of $50 to $150 more.
Fiberglass vs. Wood Entry Doors Bottom Line
Fiberglass entry doors have come a long way in replicating their wood counterparts. But they are simply not real wood.
Fiberglass wins against wood entry doors in almost every category. But if your desire is to have a wooden door, there is only one type that you will want to own.
Wood protection products are always improving. The maintenance of wood entry doors continues to become easier and more reliable than it has been in the past.
Fiberglass Entry Door Buying Guide
There are many variables to consider before purchasing a fiberglass entry door. Let’s discuss some of the more important factors below.
Perhaps the first thing to consider when buying any entry door, is how you would like that door to look. Does it fit the style of your home? Is it a centerpiece for appearance on the front of the house, or a service entry door to the backyard that few people will ever see besides your family?
Maybe a French-styled, double door entry would be
A simple online search for images of fiberglass entry doors will give you many style options to think about.
As discussed above, fiberglass entry doors are excellent insulators. There are some optional features that should be considered in addition to the insulation in the door itself.
The number and size of windows in the entry door system will have an effect on its overall R-value. Below is a chart of how the addition of windows in a fiberglass door affects its energy efficiency rating.
1/3 view window
1/2 view window
full view window
Fiberglass entry doors that are sold as pre-hung systems come with a variety of frame types. The type and quality of those frames are largely associated with their price point.
Higher priced fiberglass door systems will be framed with weather-resistant composite materials, often filled with insulating foam. These frames maintain the high R-value of the door itself, are maintenance free, and will not deteriorate when subjected to weather.
On mid-range priced doors, the frames are usually constructed using vinyl or composite material. Under normal conditions, these door frames are acceptable for most homeowners. They are not subject to deterioration in weather and have a very low, if any, need for maintenance.
Lower-priced doors may come with less than desirable door frames. Some of these are made of wood which require routine maintenance. Others are made of lower quality vinyls or composites. They may not be as durable as needed for something like a rear home entry that can see a lot of abuse.
Are fiberglass doors safe from unwanted intruders? Fiberglass is a strong material that requires a large amount of force to crack. The door itself rivals steel for its toughness. The weak point in most modern entry door systems lies in the strength of the door frame.
High quality composite door frames are generally better than wood or vinyl frames. Composite materials are better at holding onto the fasteners used to install the lockset and hinge components of the door. If you heavily
Fiberglass Entry Door Cost Factors
The two main factors affecting the cost of fiberglass entry doors are the cost of the door system and cost of installing it.
Fiberglass Entry Door Price Factors
The price of the entry door system is the main concern regarding cost for a fiberglass entry door.There are a few big-name manufacturers in the fiberglass entry door business, but door prices tend to reflect the options included in the door system rather than the name of the company that built it.
Fiberglass Entry Door Options
Current prices range from the mid $200s for a simple service door with a smooth finish, up to several thousand dollars for a top-of-the-line pre-hung system. Below, see how various options affect pricing of fiberglass entry doors.
Primed finish, no windows
Factory paint finish, no windows
Factory stain finish, no windows
Add ⅓ view window
Add multiple windows
Add full glass window
Add one sidelight
Add two sidelights
French (double) doors
Fiberglass Entry Door Installation Cost
Installation cost is another major factor for any entry door system. Installing the door yourself can save money now. Improper installation, however, can cost more money in the long run.
Most locales will require a building permit for the installation of an exterior door. Generally, this is not a major cost, but should be considered.
DIY Fiberglass Entry Door Installation
Installation materials are relatively inexpensive. You’ll need weather-resistant caulk, sill protection material, composite shims, weather-resistant screws, trim nails, and finish trim.
If you are a DIYer, you may already have the tools needed for the install. They include a 4 to 6 foot level, tape measure, drill, and a power screwdriver. A miter saw may be needed for the trim work installation.
Patience may be required to install an entry door. Be sure to take the time to ensure that all steps are followed carefully to avoid costly errors. Most fiberglass entry doors are protected by a lifetime warranty. The warranty can be voided if the door is not properly installed.There are plenty of instructional videos available online if you feel you are ready for the challenge.
Professional Fiberglass Door Installation
The current average cost to hire a professional door installation expert ranges from $300 - $700 and most often includes an installation warranty from the contractor. For many homeowners, this is a small price to pay to ensure that the job is done correctly.