Read our article about door construction and the abilities of different door materials to provide insulating benefits for your home ‘Insulating Your Windows and Doors -Before or After’. Exterior doors are usually made up of either steel, solid wood, or fibreglass, and the average lifespan is about 20-25 years. Are thinking about replacing your entry door? we’ve put together a great article with design tips for choosing a new door system ‘How to Choose a New Entry Door’
Some sources claim that steel doors can last a long time if they have an insulated core and are correctly taken care of. Despite this, steel doors in particular are at risk of developing rust after being exposed to rain and moist air.
A well-taken care of old-growth wooden entry door can last 80- 100 years.
Due to their stability, another popular choice for an entry door is solid wood. Even modern hardwood doors thickly built can last 30 years or more. The significant factors that shorten this lifespan are the constant exposure to water and moisture, which will eventually lead to warping without proper finishes and treatments. Warping happens because wood naturally absorbs moisture from the air into its grains.
Fibreglass doors are known to last just as long as steel doors, though even they are susceptible to rot. These doors are made up of a foam core and wooden frame wrapped in a fibreglass skin, giving it sturdiness while also providing insulation. Peeling paint or expanding seams can then expose the foam core, which is susceptible to splitting, cracking, or rotting.
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Unfortunately, most of the signs and problems that come with age apply mainly to wooden doors. Natural wood doors are heavy, expensive, require the most upkeep, and succumb to many natural elements. For example, if a wood door does not have a finish re-applied to it every year or so, it becomes susceptible to bugs, warping, and cracking from UV exposure. This damage further leads to ‘dry rot’ where fungus destroys wood fibres, cracking, and unalignment from seasonal changes.
If your front door is drafty, it may be time to replace the weather stripping or replace the door:
Exposure to the elements can lead to an exterior door shrinking or becoming unaligned with its frame. In other cases, the slim pieces of material known as ‘siding’ may crack or decay. This leads to a loss of insulation, or in some instances, warping, and that may mean you should replace the door.
If you can see light through the door, it may be time to replace the weather stripping or replace the door:
Common for aged wood, tiny cracks that are not evident at first glance can grow in size. What gives these cracks away is if you can see slivers of light through them.
If your entry door sticks when you open and close it, it may be time to replace the door:
Door frames and actual slabs of the door can shrink or expand due to weather conditions, and sometimes even hinges may do the same. If you notice that you need to give your door a ‘nudge’ for it to fully close, it may be signs your door has taken on moisture or other structural problems.
If the paint is worn, faded, or heavily chipped, it may be time to replace the door:
Water and wind can wear away even the most resilient materials. The extent of severity depends on how long this chipping has occurred.
If the moisture has built up between the glass panes, you should find out whether you can replace the sealed glass unit:
It’s possible to see moisture or fogging in between a double-paned glass unit. The seal that holds the insulating gas between the glazed panes is susceptible to eventual cracking or warping if exposed to sun or constant moisture. The only fix for this is to replace the sealed unit.
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The antidote to replacing your exterior door is through proper care. There is no one simple answer, as there are different wood materials to consider.
Any door material benefits significantly from being treated with protective finishes and oils. For wood, finishes prevent warping, fading, and cracking from being exposed to outside elements. Yet steel and fibreglass can also fade if not given the same kind of protection. Steel, in particular, can rust, as discussed above.
Another treatment is to make sure front doors are covered with some form of UV-resistant chemicals. Sun exposure leads to fading, cracking, and peeling of paint for any door material, which opens the way for other damages.