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Best Exterior Doors for Cold Climate

What Are The Best Exterior Doors For A Cold Climate?

Brrrr… who left the front door open?

Was that you?

Or, is it so chilly in this article today because your old entry door needs an upgrade?

When considering what kind of exterior door to get as a replacement, we’re here to help. After over a decade of focusing on nothing but exterior residential doors and installations, we know how important it is to consider the way the summer & winter months impact your entry doors over time.

While we don’t live in the Northern sector of Energy Star’s climate zones (in the image below), many of the benefits of exterior doors designed for cold climates are popular everywhere!

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk a little about how doors are rated in terms of energy efficiency — their ability to stand as a bulwark between your indoor environment and the harsh elements outside.

A quote directly from ENERGY-STAR on this very subject:

“Many doors don’t have any glass, but even doors with lots of glass like a sliding patio door have lower glass-to-frame ratios than windows or skylights. This means doors can provide more insulation than a window or skylight can. Performance criteria for doors are based on the amount of glass they have (called glazing level) and ratings certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).”

Key Takeaway: The two most important determining factors of what makes one door better for colder climates over another are:

  1. insulation
  2. glazing/glass.

Great, are you ready to get a bit nerdy?

Here is the actual breakdown for doors on U-Factor ratings as well as Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) from Energy Star for your reference:

Pro Tip-the lower the U-Factor the better insulating the door (similar to a high R-Factor in an insulated wall).

For Southern California a low SHGC means less loss of your interior cooling from the sun’s heat.

The three tips they give homeowners to help them navigate towards entry doors for the northern climate zones are as follows:

  • Install entry doors with high-quality, multiple panes of glass. The double or triple-paned insulated glass will reduce heat loss.
  • Fiberglass doors with a tight-fit polyurethane foam core are among the most energy-efficient door materials on the market.
  • New models have tighter-fit framing systems that include quality seals and improved weather stripping.

To dig a bit deeper let’s look at a visual snippet from one of our manufacturer brochures — Therma-Tru. Below is the 2020 Energy Star Qualification Chart of three door models from their Classic-Craft, Opaque & Lip-Lite Fiberglass line.

The numbers in the graph show you what the energy efficiency ratings are like for different kinds of glass. The blue color denotes northern climate zones:

The good news is that when you work with professionals, their product specialists can walk you through this information in person based on what’s best for your home and budget.

Right now we’re just showing you some of the numbers involved.

A second example from another one of our manufacturers, Masonite, shows you the full breakdown of all the different kinds of glazing/glass in their Vista Grande line of fiberglass doors.

Don’t let the wall of figures scare you. Just keep the Energy Star climate zone ratings in mind for Northern Climates and get a rough idea for the types of glass that deliver ideal ratings. Along with mini blinds and grids, the choices are straightforward:

Note the much higher numbers for their Particleboard Core options. We do not install these, but it gives you an idea of what the efficiency ratings are for different materials.

This is why at Today’s Entry Doors, we only install the most energy-efficient fiberglass doors available for our customers. They’re the best of both worlds.

Whether you live in a cold climate or a more tropical one…our manufacturers have delivered everything you could ever need.

The Primary Benefits Of Fiberglass Doors In Cold California Winters & Across The Country

You Get To Enjoy Far Superior Insulation Value

Whether you opt for a fiberglass entry door insulated with polyurethane or particleboard, you get vetted and verified performance.

Why do they typically provide close to 5X the insulation effectiveness of solid wood or wood-core entry doors? Because of their layers:

  1. The frame of the door (stiles & rails) is specially manufactured from powerful, moisture-proof composite material. This is to erase any chance of mold, mildew, termites, and rotting.
  2. The core, which can be insulated with a variety of materials. The most common is polyurethane foam, which is better sound proofing for doors.
  3. The skin is high-impact, compression-molded fiberglass.

You Get More Cold Weather (Moisture) Resistance

How do iron or steel doors hold up in cold weather with minimal maintenance?

How about all-natural wood?

When it comes to rain, wind, and hail, the modern fiberglass doors we install are near weather-PROOF. This is due to their totally uniform design without any cracks, breaks, or seems for the weather to get into.

You Get Comparable Levels Of Strength To Wood & Steel

When you compare strength between traditional wooden doors, metal doors, and fiberglass doors you have to be specific. For example, a completely solid iron door and a wrought iron fiberglass door are different, but what can your home’s entry door frame handle?

There’s literally no limit to what money can buy, but in most residential contexts, these three materials ALL perform well. The advantages of fiberglass are that if/when their strength is truly called upon, fiberglass isn’t going to dent. It resists scratches. It doesn’t rust, rot, warp, bow, peel…and so on.

You Get Outstanding Warranty Coverage Even In Harsh Zones

At the end of the day, because of the quality of these entry door slabs and framing systems, you get the absolute best coverage possible — LIFETIME. What’s important is to work with a great installer like Today’s Entry Doors with a long history of successful service.

Wrapping Up: Well-Insulated Entry Doors With Specialized Glazing Are Ideal For Cold Climates

The only thing that can outperform those is a custom-made or tailor-made entry door. At Today’s Entry Doors, we can help you with those as well…that is if you live in our Orange County, California neck of the woods. Otherwise, now you know what kinds of doors to look for in cold climates: well-insulated with appropriate glazing, ideally multi-pane, and from one of America’s top manufacturers.

Steel vs Fiberglass Exterior Doors Orange County
Entry Door Comparisons, Doors, Products

The Debate Between Steel vs. Fiberglass Exterior Doors

Steel vs. Fiberglass Exterior Doors For Orange County Homes

Today’s Entry Doors is the #1 name in premium high-grade fiberglass entry doors here in the Orange County, CA area of the country.

It’s all we do.

We specialize in absolutely nothing else, so we’re schooled in all the details and specifics.

And it’s been this way for decades.

Every few years or so the ‘Steel vs. Fiberglass Exterior Doors’ argument resurfaces, and we start getting calls from homeowners — people asking us WHY we only install Fiberglass Doors. What about Steel Entry Doors?

We’ve taken the time to seriously study the pros and cons of all entry door materials. And Fiberglass just comes out on top every single time.

There’s an excellent reason that we exclusively recommend and install fiberglass doors. They’re the best choice for the Orange County, CA area because they combine all the core benefits:

  • Low Maintenance
  • Stunning Beauty
  • Customizable Options
  • Strong & Secure
  • Energy Efficient
  • Lifetime Warranty

Why don’t we recommend steel doors?

In short, there are two clear reasons:

  1. While both add levels of curb appeal, they’re not as attractive as wood or fiberglass options. Fiberglass can be stained and painted professionally at the factory for perfectly even, smooth, and refined finishes that last.
  2. Secondly, steel has a durability issue because it can dent relatively easily.

Did you know that under certain circumstances and without proper maintenance, heavy steel doors have been known to rust if not primed and painted?

Are steel doors less expensive?

Yes. Premium and custom-made fiberglass entry doors from America’s top manufacturers and installed with precision cost more upfront. However, the value and Return On Investment (ROI) is well-established. To get a better understanding, feel free to browse our many Entry Door Galleries – all installed here in the Orange County, CA area..

These doors are popular, dramatically increase curb appeal, and directly add value to your property.

Are steel doors high-maintenance?

No. Like fiberglass, they don’t require the normal upkeep of classic wooden doors like cleaning, re-staining, and repainting. In fact, painting steel doors can be a real hassle because most paints won’t want to stick! It’ll start to peel relatively soon.

Meanwhile, the fiberglass doors we install come with gorgeous guaranteed stains and factory finishes you can depend on.

Are steel doors weather-resistant as well?

Yes. Steel isn’t going to warp, rot, or swell like authentic wooden doors. Steel is ALMOST as impervious to Mother Nature as fiberglass…except for the whole rust issue. Fiberglass doors are one solid mold without seams, so there are just no moisture problems to worry about.

Which is more secure?

Here again, steel and fiberglass are pretty much on par with each other. Both provide strong, sturdy, Unbreakable Front Doors. It’s more about the added security features and the quality of the framing.

But again, steel doors can dent.

They can scratch pretty easily too.

And when this happens, they aren’t a cakewalk to get repaired!

Which Entry Door Has The Best Energy Efficiency?

This is where things get complex and fast. Energy efficiency has to do with an assortment of specific details that change from entry door to entry door. Modern fiberglass and steel entry doors systems deliver energy efficiency ratings beyond what your average wood door can offer.

  • Fiberglass: Specialized full-fill polyurethane core, heat-resistant window trim, high-quality weatherstripping, impeccable glazing, etc.
  • Steel: Not as good as an insulator and dependent on overall construction. Once you start looking at steel doors with glass, your design options within ENERGY STAR certification are rather limited compared to fiberglass.

Next Step: Give Today’s Entry Doors A Call

If you’re in the Orange County, CA area and would like to speak with an honest-to-goodness entry door specialist about this ‘Steel vs. Fiberglass Exterior Doors’ debate… give us a call.

Contact Us and we’ll be happy to give you all the specific details for our area, rather than the generalities you find online. We’ve got over three decades of experience helping homeowners around here, and we’ll help you too! Thanks for your time today, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.