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Steel vs. Wood Doors: Six Things to Consider

The door is the first thing you see when you walk up to your house or office. The handle is the first thing you touch. It keeps intruders out and family in. No matter how nasty the weather is, your doors keep it outside. A new bride being carried over the threshold is a tradition that continues to this day. In other words, your exterior doors are important. When choosing your doors, you’ll probably have to make a fundamental decision: steel or wood?

There’s no one definitive answer as to what material is “best” for an exterior door. Wood and steel both have positives and negatives. You just have to figure out which ones matter more to you! Let’s look at six points to compare wood and steel to see which one has an advantage.

  1. Aesthetics

You’re going to be looking at your front door a lot. Make sure it’s one you actually like to see.

Wood

The organic feel of the wood grain is soft and inviting. From dark walnut to eye-catching flame maple, the texture of wood alone is engaging. But carvings and engravings can take a door from entryway to centerpiece. Wood can be stained or painted, giving the homeowner a huge palette for personalization and customization.

Steel

It’s tougher to make steel doors look attractive. The surface can feel cold and uninviting. Generally, steel doors are painted a single color and have well-built, simple panel designs. If this is the intended effect, then it’s not a problem, of course. Extra cladding or embossing can even create a wood-like appearance.

  • Cost

Whether you’re building or renovating, there’s always a budget to keep, no matter how wealthy you are. When planning your exterior door choices, the cost will be a factor, and this is another area where wood and steel doors differ.

Wood

While you can find wood doors comparable to steel doors, expect wood to be the more expensive option. Nurturing a tree from seedling to lumber is a time-consuming process with a lot of hands involved! If you plan on using more exotic lumber, then the price will rise even higher.

Steel

Going with steel is usually considered the more economical choice. Even more ornate steel doors with simulated paneling and embossing will come far under the price of comparative wooden doors.

  • Energy Efficiency

Keeping outside air from making its way in is one of the primary jobs of an exterior door. Your electricity bills directly reflect your AC’s activity一how hard your unit has to fight to maintain a stable temperature. Energy Star can help you determine what insulating efficiency you’ll need from your exterior doors based on your climate zone.

Wood

While a wood door is perfectly adept at keeping moisture and air from getting inside, it’s less able to insulate from hot and cold. Wood is just less energy efficient than steel. However, manufacturers can build wood doors with cores that help with energy efficiency and fire prevention.

Steel

Higher insulation values make steel the choice over wood if maximum energy efficiency is your goal. Adding in a glass window will cut down on efficiency, however.

  • Security

Cold, hot, or humid air isn’t the only unwanted guest you might face. Preventing break-ins is the job of your locks, but they’re only as good as the doors and frames where they’re installed.

Wood

Unfortunately, while wood is aesthetically pleasing, it’s just less sturdy than steel. Wood can be broken or sawed through even if you’ve taken other measures to make your door more secure, such as strong strike plates with long mounting screws to make kicking the door in that much harder. Of course, a window can negate this security advantage.

Steel

A well-built steel door in a strong frame might as well be a wall when it comes to deterring break-ins. Even hollow steel doors offer more protection than most wood doors, though many steel doors, such as those at CDF Distributors, are filled with insulation and reinforced to increase their strength.

  • Maintenance

Your exterior doors will get worn from use, weather, and time. Keeping them looking their best will require care and attention no matter what they’re made of.

Wood

To keep wood doors looking and functioning their best, you’ll need to have them refinished every couple of years. The front, back, sides, top, and bottom must be sealed to protect the wood from rotting or attracting pests such as termites. If wood doors are scratched or dented, repairs are comparatively simple. Usually, some sanding and touch-up paint are all that’s needed to fix light damage.

Steel

From the factory, steel doors are coated with vinyl or polyester to protect them from scratches. But, as their coating gets worn down, you’ll need to repaint or recoat your steel door. Moisture can cause steel doors to rust if not prevented quickly. If steel gets dented or scratched, repairs aren’t as straightforward as they are with wood. Steel has to be sanded and filled to keep the door from deteriorating.

  • Durability

What kind of life expectancy can you anticipate with your exterior doors? Will they hold up to decades of use?

Wood

When sealed properly, wood can last for generations. Preventing rot is the job of paint and finishes, and as long as a maintenance routine keeps the finish from wearing away, the wood door will stay usable. Proper finishing will also keep the wood from warping and reduce expansion and contraction.

Steel

While steel is strong, its durability is just not as high as wood when faced with the same daily use. That can be down to the level of maintenance the homeowner or business owner is willing to do, but keeping up with every scratch and paint chip is challenging even for the most meticulous person. Once rust sets in, it’s challenging to eliminate.

Which one won out for you? Are you in camp steel or wood? Whichever way you decide, CDF Distributors is the key to your new doors!

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