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:
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:
- 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.
- The core, which can be insulated with a variety of materials. The most common is polyurethane foam, which is better sound proofing for doors.
- 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.