When it comes to remodeling an entryway, it's unlikely that a homeowner will want to replace an old wood door with a new wood door. According to research conducted by Therma-Tru, wood doors are replaced by steel or fiberglass doors 58% of the time. Of those who chose a fiberglass replacement, 62% said it was because they felt it would be more durable than other types of doors.
This belief has fueled an increase in market share for fiberglass doors, shooting from 10% in 2000 to 14% today. Therma-Tru predicts a 30% share by 2007.
Fiberglass doors avoid many of the problems usually associated with wood doors — namely, swelling, warping, and rotting. They also have five times the insulation value of wood and are generally less expensive. A basic six-panel fiberglass door can cost from $150 to $250. Wood doors, when built for exterior applications in a hardwood species such as red oak, can run as much as $400 to $800, depending on the manufacturer. However, homeowners who are looking for a custom, high-end wood door aren't likely to be swayed by fiberglass, no matter how much it looks like wood, according to Scott Schmid, president of TruStile Doors, a custom wood door manufacturer. He says that he isn't worried about competing with fiberglass door manufacturers, because most of TruStile's business is in high-end interior doors. Steel doors still maintain a price advantage, generally costing less than $100.
Pete Vlantis, owner of Nova Exteriors, in Vienna, Va., says that entry door replacements make up about 30% of his company's annual business, with fiberglass doors taking only 3% of that share. Most of the doors he and his crew install are steel, but there are situations where fiberglass is the better choice. “If you have a direct sunlight situation, then fiberglass might be a better fit for you, because of its insulating properties. They offer a richer wood look than steel doors, so if [a client] wants something that looks close to wood, fiberglass is the right choice.”
An enhanced entryway can add as much as $24,000 to a home's perceived value, according to the Therma-Tru study. To this end, door manufacturers are doing more with their fiberglass offerings to compete in the replacement market. Masonite recently introduced the Belleville and Barrington collections, both with high-end, decorator appeal and a number of finish and glass options. Jeld-Wen's IWP Aurora Series features elaborate designs and several wood-grain styles. These companies and others are poised to be at the forefront when homeowners are ready to up the curb appeal of their entryways.