Exterior doors offer visual appeal, security, and insulation to a home’s entryways, so these aspects are important to keep in mind when purchasing an exterior door and choosing its material. In this first section of a two-part blog on exterior doors, the advantages and disadvantages of different materials will be explored.


Wood is the traditional choice for exterior doors, and it’s easy to see why: it’s beautiful and customizable. There are many types of wood to choose from, such as pine, fir, oak, mahogany, and maple, as well as a variety of finishes, from paint colors that match your decor to varnishes that enhance the wood’s beauty. Wood can also be cut to fit the entryway, so an unusual size or shape is doable.

The downside to using wood doors is that the wood can sag, warp, and peel over time, especially when repeatedly subjected to the elements. That’s why wood is best suited for covered areas or in conjunction with a storm door. Weather stripping can also help with insulation and durability. Wood doors will require periodic maintenance in the form of repainting or refinishing.

A solid-core, wood-veneer door is a less expensive alternative to solid wood. A solid-core door is less prone to warping and ups the insulation value of the door. Like any type of wood door, thicker panels, stiles, and rails are best for strength and durability.


Insulated steel is praised for energy efficiency, security, and durability. Doors made of steel have a higher insulating value than wood doors—sometimes up to five times greater. They are also the most secure exterior doors for your home and require little maintenance. They can be painted in any color and are offered in different styles, though not as many as wood doors. Steel doors are typically less expensive than wood or fiberglass doors.

While steel doors won’t warp, they can dent and rust. Their embossed wood-grain finishes do not look as nice as real wood, and some finishes may require periodic repainting. Steel doors also cannot be easily cut down to fit an existing frame.


Insulated fiberglass doors are made up of composite materials. Like steel, fiberglass is more secure and energy efficient than wood. These doors are also strong and durable, and they require little maintenance. Their wood-mimicking finishes are believable and beautiful without the threat of warping, and many staining and painting options are available.

Fiberglass doors can be susceptible to fading, but other than that, they have few disadvantages. Not surprisingly, they are typically one of the most expensive options—higher-end wood doors and fiberglass doors are usually similar in price.


In terms of durability, strength, and energy efficiency, aluminum doors are similar to steel and fiberglass doors. They are very low maintenance, with wood-grain or smooth finishes that won’t chip or rust. Aluminum is most often used for storm doors and patio door frames.


Vinyl is often used for patio door frames, and it is typically the lowest-priced frame option. Vinyl is energy efficient and requires little maintenance, though you will have fewer color and style options than frames made of other materials.

It’s wise to take into account the location of each exterior door as well as the climate in your region when deciding on the right material. A door replacement professional can offer guidance as to what material would be the best choice for your home.

The material you choose could also depend on the style of door you want. Check back on the EBSCO Research blog later in the week for information on different styles of exterior doors.

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Sources: ENERGY STAR; HGTV; Qualified Remodeler; This Old House; US Department of Energy.

For more information on our sources, please contact us directly.