Material World

Whether natural or man-made, wood entry doors continue to gain market share
Stacey Freed
August 20, 2014
FEATURE ARTICLE | Aesthetics & Style

Jeld-Wen offers Craftsman and 2-panel door designs in its new Architectural and Pro-Series fiberglass doors. The doors are available in a variety of options to meet unique style preferences. A Beadboard design in smooth and fir Pro-Series fiberglass doors are perfect for bungalow style homes, according to the manufacturer.

When it comes to entry doors, insulated steel is still king. Yet wood, whether in its natural form or fiberglass replicate, continues to make headway. There is an “emphasis on natural materials…and the influence of nature” that’s driving homeowner purchases, says Keith Juhola, vice president, sales and marketing, ODL Inc.

What’s also trending in entry doors? To hear manufacturers tell it: varied finishes, clean lines and individualization. “The entry door is the first thing visitors see and touch when they arrive. People want a dramatic presence,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager, Simpson Door Co.

FIBERGLASS VS. WOOD

 
 GlassCraft’s new Lyric decorative door glass, offered in a triple-pane IG unit, complements the 3-foot by 6-foot 8-inch Mahogany wood entry door, shown here with the Savoy multi-point lockset.

Door manufacturers report a rise in demand for fiberglass products that offer a wood look. “Consumers are seeing the benefits of using fiberglass,” says Curt Daniel, product manager, Therma -Tru Doors. “There’s less maintenance, no warping or rotting, [and consumers] like the aesthetics that come with a grain door.”

Daniel says mahogany has become a significant part of Therma-Tru’s business. Consumers seem to like it for its “richness,” he says. At Jeld-Wen, “Smooth and oak grains continue to be strong, with mahogany, walnut and fir growing in popularity,” says Craig Weaver, product manager. David Perkins, senior director North America residential channel marketing, Masonite, www.masonite.com, also reports a substantial increase in demand for fiberglass doors with a fir look, as well as mahogany and poplar.

GlassCraft Door Co. has responded to the trend for a lower-maintenance wood-look door with an artisan fiberglass product that’s sold pre-finished. “The sales of these pre-finished doors are increasing significantly,” says John Plummer, president and founder.

Of course, there is still a segment of the market—often higher-end homeowners and architects—that will use only natural wood. Loveless identifies Simpson’s top five woods: Douglas fir, known for its tight, vertical grain and classic look; Western Hemlock, which is similar to the fir; Alder, and more specifically, knotty Alder for its classy, rustic look; sapele Mahogany, which has showed the biggest jump in popularity in the past few years; and American red oak.

Loveless acknowledges that wood products need protection: “We liken our entry doors to pieces of furniture,” he says. “And you wouldn’t put your dining room table in the yard and let it be. We’ve developed solutions that allow [consumers] to use wood no matter the exposure.” Simpson’s Nantucket door fits the bill with its UltraBlock technology, a composite decking material that stops water infiltration. Simpson also offers as an upgrade a medium density overlay on its door faces. “It’s a moisture-resistant material used on street signs and in concrete form work,” Loveless says. “It’s great if someone lives on the Coast, for example, and doesn’t have an overhang.”

Last year, Masonite launched its Top: Jeld-Wen offers Craftsman and 2-panel door designs in its new Architectural and Pro-Series fiberglass doors. The doors are available in a variety of options to meet unique style preferences. A Beadboard design in smooth and fir Pro-Series fiberglass doors are perfect for bungalow style homes, according to the manufacturer. Bottom: Contemporary doors from Simpson Door Co., shown here in fir, feature clean and simple lines for a sophisticated look. Lemieux Doors Torrified Collection to address durability issues associated with wood doors. “The wood goes through a torrification process where all the moisture is heated out of the door, and then it goes through the assembly manufacturing process,” Perkins explains. “It’s more durable when you take the moisture out of the door and less susceptible to expansion and contraction.” At the 2013 International Builders’ Show, Masonite had the door sit under a constantly running waterfall. “And we put a 20-year warranty on this wood door,” Perkins says.

IT’S PERSONAL

 
 Contemporary doors from Simpson Door Co., shown here in fir, feature clean and simple lines for a sophisticated look.

Consumers have never had so many choices in their door styles, and they’re taking advantage of the many options. “People want to personalize their door,” says Loveless. “They’re not only choosing style and materials but size, shape, grilles, miniblinds and glass.”

In new homes, the trend is toward taller, and often wider, doors. “We’re seeing a lot of 8-foot doors and some 3-foot-6-inch widths,” says Masonite’s Perkins. In older homes, where people are remodeling, the trend isn’t as strong since homeowners may just want to replace an existing door with one of the same size.

Increasing demand for the “clean lines” look translates into either contemporary offerings, like those in Therma-Tru’s Pulse Collection with its “modern looks and simplistic designs” or Craftsman styles like those in TruTech’s Belmont line and Jeld-Wen’s Architectural and ProSeries doors.

And at the higher-end, consumers are looking for “an entryway that’s…grander in scale, something they won’t find at the neighborhood ‘big box,’” GlassCraft’s Plummer says. But at every price point, it seems, “Consumers are focusing more on making their house a home, and in doing so, putting their unique touch or stamp on it.”

LIGHT IT UP

With the general interior design trend for more natural light, it only makes sense that doors follow suit. “People want light coming into their homes but are still somewhat concerned with privacy,” says Perkins at Masonite, which has increased its number of textured glass designs.

Most everyone is seeing a demand for more glass in entry doors. “While transoms are on a slight decline, ODL’s Juhola says, “the most popular configuration is a single sidelite. After that, it’s two sidelites with a single door or double door.” ODL has responded to the size trend with larger pieces of glass and to the Craftsman trend with choices that echo Frank Lloyd Wright patterns and those of other designers of the era. ODL’s latest product, “Spotlights,” has a “mid-century Modern feel, which is very hot recently,” Juhola says. “Research told us that people who buy that type of door are looking for the right glass to fit that style door, and they crave authenticity; they are quick to sniff out something that’s a knockoff.”

One thing Therma-Tru’s Daniel has noticed is that when consumers are choosing options for glass, grilles or divided lites, they want a “cohesive home package.” In other words, they want their entry door options “to match their windows, their patio, doors, and their side entries.”

Freed is editor of Window & Door. Write her at sfreed@glass.org