5 Reasons Fiberglass Beats Steel Doors Every Time

1. Introduction

The demand for doors, which are power efficient, but on the other hand are durable and require less maintenance is definitely increasing over the past years. Consumers are demanding a product that needs less maintenance and no substitution or upgrade for a longer period.
Keeping all this in mind, fiberglass doors have hit the marketplace and have become progressively general, fighting it out with steel doors, which have conventionally been position as the most excellent worth in low maintenance and elevated presentation.
The intention of this essay is to compare fiberglass and steel doors in relation to these preferred value. On the whole, we suppose that fiberglass doors boast meaningful benefits over steel doors in an assortment of areas, while suggesting advances to the usual trade-off amid value and presentation.
An opening point in evaluating fiberglass doors is to think about the insulating properties of diverse door resources. Emphasizing graphic advisability, our vendor in Toronto carries an “R-value” of 4.3 per inch of depth for fiberglass doors; virtually 3 times the R-value of typical steel doors.

1.1 Benefits of Fiberglass Doors

Thermal efficiency is very important for many homes, especially for those in countries with four seasons. The insulation properties of fiberglass doors are better compared to steel doors and wooden doors. They do not conduct heat or cold very well, providing a barrier for interior and exterior temperatures. In the early stages, fiberglass doors were not very durable and were prone to dents while fixing the inner core foam. However, recent models have the ability to withstand a 3-pound density with minimal surface or deep dents. Fiberglass doors and wooden doors have something in common: both are made of materials that do not conduct heat or cold very well. However, the insulation properties of fiberglass outweigh those of wooden doors. During the winter season, wooden doors tend to warp, while fiberglass doors maintain their shape and size. This is due to the swelling and contracting nature of wooden doors when exposed to rain and sun. High humidity causes wooden doors to swell, which can cause rubbing against the door frame. Fiberglass doors do not swell or contract, regardless of the conditions.

Fiberglass door manufacturers have some benefits over the elderly steel door manufacturers. Steel doors are very tough and durable, while fiberglass doors are lighter, require less maintenance, and are more energy efficient. The concept of fiberglass doors is relatively recent, since their inception in the early 80s. The toughness of fiberglass doors has increased compared to their earlier days in the early 80s, but they are still not as tough as the recent models of steel doors. Fiberglass doors are very light and can swing easily, making them a popular choice among women. The lighter weight compared to steel doors reduces stress on the hinges, door handles, and door locks, as well as the door frame and surrounding areas. This reduces maintenance and the cost of changing door locks and handles, and also eliminates the issue of rust or corrosion in these areas.

1.2 Advantages of Steel Doors

The main advantage of steel doors is the cost. The cost of purchase is much lower than the equivalent of a fiberglass door. This is an instant attraction for many customers. But the initial cost has to be weighed up by the disadvantages of steel doors. Due to the steel construction, the door’s surface is not easy to repair. As the surface is coated with a primer to assist with paint adhesion. Whether factory primed or field primed, the primer is there to help prevent rusting by providing a barrier to moisture. If the painted surface is damaged, moisture can penetrate to the bare metal causing the metal to oxidize and rust. If a steel door dents, it is very difficult to repair. Using a fiberglass filler is only effective if the area is then sanded and repainted within a short space of time and is almost impossible to replicate the textured, patterned or woodgrain finish in most cases. With all these factors, in most cases, a repair is just not feasible and the whole door unit must be replaced. Steel doors usually require repainting every 2-3 years because they are prone to chalking and paint adhesion problems. This is a great contrast to fiberglass doors that require very little maintenance in the way of repainting and can usually be carried out without the need for the paint to be removed.

1.3 Comparison of Fiberglass and Steel Doors

In this paper, the door is considered to be more than just the slab or the movable portion of the door. It is a system composed of the door slab, the frame, and the hardware. The study focused on the door slab, but the implications of the results extend to the whole system. Note that most consumer-oriented comparisons of fiberglass and steel doors are only of the slabs. Fiberglass and steel are typically used as skins over a wood frame door. A steel door skin is formed from sheet steel and is strongly directional. Bending failures occur easily. Steel doors have almost disappeared from the residential marketplace. A steel door will last a long time but will look bad while doing it. Information on steel doors will be relevant to the door in the author’s home, but a fiberglass skin has become the more competitive choice for steel doors than steel for nearly all applications. Fiberglass doors are either compression molded or a less costly fiberglass sheet that is bonded to a wood frame and filled with polyurethane foam.

Fiberglass and steel are two materials used in door construction. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages. The decision to use one material instead of the other has been made on the basis of information that has been largely anecdotal. This paper presents results of a study designed to provide empirical evidence to help inform that decision. The specific aims of the study were to identify and rank the most important performance attributes of doors, to test the hypothesis that fiberglass doors have a better overall performance than steel doors, and to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

2. Durability

High-quality fiberglass doors have an oak wood grain texture molded right into the door. Many fiberglass doors may also have the edge stiles chemically bonded at each end to prevent the stiles from delaminating. Steel doors, on the other hand, have either a smooth or wood grain texture. If it is a wood grain, it is likely just a film of wood on the surface. There is limited detailing on a steel door, as doors are usually two inches thick and cannot realistically mold high panel details. This leaves very little in the way of uplifting the aesthetic aspect of your home’s entryway. Both steel and fiberglass doors come ready to paint and/or stain. The finishing options with a fiberglass door are much more broad in scope, as you can change the color of the door with no hassle, and some models allow for the surface to be stained. This is quite the contrast to steel doors, which have a factory-primed surface with limited color options for paint and cannot be stained.

At first thought, you may think that steel doors are the most durable due to their resistance to forced entry. However, upon further inspection, you may reconsider. Fiberglass doors offer a realistic wood look with extremely high durability. They will not dent, rust, or delaminate as steel doors might. A high-performance fiberglass door will have polyurethane fill, as well as compression insulation to create a highly energy-efficient, durable, and impact-resistant entryway. This essentially means that over time and with heavy traffic, a fiberglass door will look and perform better than a steel door.

Fiberglass doors are crafted to withstand even the most extreme weather conditions without warping, splitting, or cracking. Fiberglass doors come with a solid frame, adding to their structural integrity and having the capability to withstand years of wear and tear. In addition to this, fiberglass doors can be manufactured with higher insulation values, which adds to the energy efficiency of your home. Steel doors and fiberglass doors are both durable and energy efficient. Energy efficiency is important if you live in extreme temperatures or experience temperature differences during the season. These differences can directly affect the comfort of your home and the cost of your energy bills. Fiberglass doors are the top-end product for this category.

2.1 Resistance to Weather and Moisture

Finally, steel doors generally have a thermal break which separates the inside and outside of the door and prevents thermal transmissions. This has no direct bearing on the effect of weather and moisture on the door itself. However, in particularly humid weather where moisture condensation is high, a thermal break can cause internal condensation on the door. This can then lead to moisture transference to other surrounding areas. A steel door with paint damage or a scratch near to the area of condensation may get rust and corrosion around the affected area. This is a rare but potential problem to steel doors in specific weather conditions.

Steel doors will not face these problems straight away. However, scratches or dents in the coating to the door, such as those obtained through general wear and tear, can lead to rust and corrosion which could seriously damage the door. This is particularly the case if the scratches are neglected and not refinished with new coats of paint. If a steel door is damaged in this way, then the problem is very difficult to rectify. Sanding out the rust or corrosion leaves the area susceptible to more corrosion in the future and there is not always a will to replacement of the door. This can lead to a cycle of damage to the door continuing until it becomes seriously unsightly and a functional problem. At this point, a new door must be bought. This rust and corrosion is thus a form of slow onset damage to a steel door from moisture in the atmosphere. It has not been around for a long time and research into this specific issue is minimal. However, given what we already know about the properties of fibreglass and steel, we can infer that it is highly likely that a steel door is more susceptible to rust and corrosion than a fibreglass door.

Fibreglass doors are well known for their resistance to weather and moisture. The doors are rot proof and will not swell, warp or twist over time like wooden doors. This is because fibreglass is a glass-based material and therefore has no absorbent properties, meaning that it will not absorb moisture during wet weather. This then leads to further problems such as the door sticking when it is opened in hot weather due to the swelling of the door and then difficulty in closing it in cold weather due to the warping of the door.

2.2 Impact Resistance

Steel doors, on the other hand, are susceptible to permanent damage caused by heavy impact. A steel door can dent, and once it does, a dent is extremely difficult to repair. In addition to this, the buildup of rust is a common problem for steel doors exposed to heavy rain, humidity, salt air, or other corrosive elements. Steel doors can be finished and refinished to combat rust, but signs of rust and flaking paint usually appear within 2-3 years of the door’s installation. Areas with severe rust cannot simply be painted over. They must be cleaned and sanded, and a rust inhibitive primer must be used. This entire process for rust repair is unsightly and can become a recurring problem as the door continues to age.

Fiberglass doors are configured to prevent dings, dents, splintering, and rust. These doors are constructed using technologies that result in a product that resists the most common forms of dents and rust that an average steel door or wooden exterior door might experience. Fiberglass possesses the unique ability to flex, and it is this flexibility that gives our doors the ability to withstand high impact forces without cracking or permanently distorting. Tests conducted on fiberglass doors have shown that they can resist moderate to extreme impacts and still maintain their smooth surface on both the front and back faces of the door.

2.3 Longevity

In regard to longevity, steel doors are simply unable to compete with the 60+ year lifespan of fiberglass. The reason for this comes down to the nature of steel. Over time, exposure to the elements and normal wear for steel or wood doors can result in rusting or rotting, leaving your door in a dangerous and non-functioning state. In order to counter this, many steel door manufacturers have attempted to produce doors with higher resistance to weathering by applying special coatings to the steel. This can be an effective measure against normal wear, but as soon as the coating is damaged, the rest of the door will be left vulnerable due to the exposed area. Fiberglass, though it is not metal, is not as volatile a material as wood, and it is highly resistant to weathering and oxidation. As a non-absorbent material, fiberglass resists swelling, warping, and rotting.
Another lesser-known enemy to the longevity of doors in the long run is daily energy use in the home. Most of the energy from heating and cooling a home is lost through the windows and doors. Fiberglass has a much higher efficiency rating than steel and is comparable to well-insulated wood doors. Fiberglass doors have foam cores providing high insulation values, and most door systems are completely filled with foam. Steel doors are a poor insulator and can actually become a liability in extremely cold or hot climates due to their transfer of heat/cold. Over time, the stress from higher heating and cooling bills can be greater than the cost of the door itself.

3. Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy in their “Remodeling and Insulation” guide states that sealing and insulating your home’s envelope (outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings) is the most cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. Says John Straube, associate professor of building science at the University of Waterloo, “The performance of the insulation is really only as good as the window and door performance.” Insulating fiberglass doors are the answer. An average home in the United States has 3-5 exterior doors. If you replaced just one of these doors with a fiberglass one, the annual energy savings would be between ten and twenty dollars. The difference in energy savings between a fiberglass door and a wooden door would be approximately twice that. Keep in mind that even though a steel door has a higher R-value than fiberglass doors, they can corrode and lose energy efficiency due to heat transfer from the outside to the inside. The quality of a door’s energy efficiency will decrease over time due to wear and tear, while a door with a foam core will retain its value for the life of the door.

By anyone’s standards, the insulating properties of fiberglass are impressive. Fiberglass doors have up to five times the insulating ability of wooden doors. Steel doors just can’t compete when it comes to insulation. This is good news for your energy bill. If you can keep your heated air inside your house in the winter, and the cooled air inside during the summer, you consume less energy. Fiberglass is a temperature insulator. It doesn’t change temperature when it’s cold or hot outside. Steel doors are. They can conduct heat or cold into your house 10 times faster than wood. This can negate any savings from a lower heating or cooling bill. And in severe temperature conditions, the inside surface of the metal door will be quite hot or cold, making it uncomfortable to touch or near. Fiberglass is by far the best choice for energy efficiency and comfort.

3.1 Insulation Properties

A steel door can conduct heat or cold 100-800 times faster than wood or fiberglass, depending on the season. If you have a steel outside door (entry door) with only the door jamb and weather stripping between the door and the outside, you basically have an open hole in your house. Studies done by the government-backed Oakridge National Laboratory have proven that heat loss in a house occurs mostly through the door, and that the installation of an exterior door jamb can reduce energy loss by half. Fiberglass entry doors are the only product that can provide the look and feel of a wood door, with the insulation properties of wood. Fiberglass will allow 75% less energy loss than a steel door.
An R-value was originally intended to measure the ability of insulation to resist hot or cold air transfer, and most people are familiar with this. What most people do not know is that an R-value can be applied to anything, and most materials have an actual R-value based on their ability to stop thermal energy transfer (heat/cold air). The larger the difference between indoor temperature and outdoor temperature, the more you would save. Heat loss calculators are available online and can make this easy.

3.2 Energy Savings

Magnetic weather strip steel doors simply do not compare in terms of long-lasting energy efficiency and the cost of maintaining a replacement. This makes a fiberglass door definitely the best choice in a door for any Energy Star home today.

An average energy efficient steel door will feature a magnetic weather stripping system. While this is very effective at keeping the door sealed and shut tight, it tends to get stuck and peel off with the door over time. This can be a noisy and irritating problem. Fiberglass doors feature a compression weather stripping system, which not only holds up better over time but forms a tight, even seal around the door. This prevents drafts in winter and hot air from entering in summer. It saves money on heating and cooling the house, as the thermostat has to do less work to make the house the desired temperature.

An energy efficient fiberglass door is the perfect alternative to traditional steel doors. The truth is, many so-called “energy efficient” products on the market today are vastly overpriced and simply ineffective. Energy efficient steel doors, while more popular in recent years due to increased technology and manufacturing processes, are not as cost-effective or energy efficient as proven fiberglass doors. The cost of a steel door ranges anywhere from $600-1200 USD, while the cost of a fiberglass door ranges from $800-1600 USD. While this may initially seem more expensive, the long-term cost effectiveness of a fiberglass door will save you money on energy bills over time.

4. Design and Aesthetics

Fiberglass doors are versatile and available in a variety of styles and finishes. They can be ordered with a wood-grain texture to closely mimic a wood door. This can be done to achieve the look of a solid wood door, and also with different details to imitate the feel and look of a raised panel door. Unlike steel doors, fiberglass will not rust and is available with a smooth skin for painting. However, the problem with a smooth skin fiberglass door is that it will show every single ding or dent that it sustains and is not repairable. For this reason, the most practical types of fiberglass doors are those with a wood grain texture. With a fiberglass door, you can have the same elegant look of a wood door but without any of the problems. Steel doors are not made to look like wood doors. They are made from a thin steel shell and filled with insulation and a wood frame. Steel doors are available in only a few colors, and the best you can do is to add a screen door. A steel door is simply not the best choice if security and keen aesthetics are your primary concerns.

4.1 Versatility in Styles and Finishes

Fiberglass doors are versatile and stylish, offering many design possibilities. They are made from the mold of an actual wood and can come in various finishes. They can be made to look like traditional wood doors or given a smooth finish. The doors can also be ordered with a wood grain texture. Wood doors, on the other hand, are limited by the type of wood they are made from, and steel doors can only offer the appearance of wood. Fiberglass doors can also be painted any color the homeowner desires. Steel doors and wood doors offer various color options, but should the homeowner want to switch the color of the door in the future, this can require a fair amount of prep and work. Fiberglass doors are easily the best option for someone seeking a specific look or color for their door. Fiberglass doors style and color can also be changed in the future quite easily by painting. High-end fiberglass doors also offer the option of further mimicking a real wood door by coming with a wood frame. This helps achieve an authentic wood door look from both the inside and outside of the home.

4.2 Customization Options

In terms of door types, fiberglass can be designed and tailored to fit the desires of the homeowners as fiberglass doors can be designed to visually suit the house around it. A lot of homeowners want a wooden door because it matches the elegance of the house while having the classic aesthetics that wood provides. Steves Door Company states that their high-quality wood-grain look doors are sure to make your house and guests feel like they are walking into a wood door. FiberTec windows and doors states that they use an oak graining pattern to achieve the authentic wood look on all of their fiberglass doors. Homeowners can customize their door type with unique door panel designs and different glass designs. People who prefer a more modern house vibe and value energy efficiency may want to go for doors with more window space that use cut and caming glass designs (FiberTec). Cut and caming designs are the cutting of a window-like shape into the door and inserting a glass design of the homeowner’s choice. This can give the door a unique look while cutting into the door improves insulation and energy efficiency. FiberTec also points out that many double entryway doors with glass require a custom door slab to accommodate the window space and that they can easily accommodate such requests. Custom door slabs can be made in any shape or size and with any panel or glass design. Finally, some homeowners prefer the wooden door simply because they can paint or stain it any color. Since fiberglass can be finished with paint or stain, it can be any color as well and can be designed to look like any other door type.

4.3 Maintenance and Appearance

The last reasons for choosing a fiberglass door over a steel door focus on maintenance and appearance. No matter how beautiful the door may be at the time of purchase, if it is facing time-consuming and/or costly maintenance, it will not be a truly worthwhile purchase. The number one reason for choosing a fiberglass door over a steel door is the reduced maintenance. A high-quality fiberglass door can be expected to last 2-3 times longer than a steel door, from 25 to 50 years. Despite the robust nature of steel, a steel door’s biggest enemy is gravity. Once a steel door begins to succumb to gravity and sag on its hinges, the door will stick in the jamb and no longer function properly. In addition to sagging, a steel door can incur a dent or a ding, especially when used by children as a swing set plate or a baseball bat. Stains and rust are another common problem with steel doors. Any of these problems can warrant replacement of the door or door skin as well as added maintenance to prevent further deterioration, an expense that can be avoided with a fiberglass door.
The fifth reason a fiberglass door is superior to a steel door is that its appearance will remain unchanged and is more easily maintained relative to a steel door. In order to combat rust or a compromised door skin, aesthetics as well as efficiency will prompt a user to replace a steel door that has seen better days. Often this means that a steel door is constantly being replaced with another steel door, an occurrence that could be avoided with the initial purchase of a fiberglass door. An article from the Fiberglass Door Systems Manufacturing website quotes George W. O’Meara, Underwriter Laboratories, Garage Door Testing Program Manager, as saying “I have yet to see a steel garage door that has pained and embossed wood grain texture which did not develop rust problems demonstrate that it is not how the steel garage door is painted but the steel itself which is the cause of the problem.

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Why Your Next Door Should Be Fiberglass: Convincing Advantages Over Steel (todaysentrydoors.com)


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