QUESTION: I should replace my old leaky front door. I want one that is decorative and attractive yet energy-efficient, secure and maintenance-free. What is the overall best type of door to install?
ANSWER: An insulated steel front door would meet your needs. I installed one with super-efficient etched and beveled glass in my own home. The reduction in drafts and outdoor noise was very noticeable.
With advanced manufacturing processes, insulated steel doors are difficult to distinguish from real wood doors. Crisp edge definition creates sharper shadows and relief for an authentic appearance.
There are several stainable simulated deep wood grained finishes available. These can also be painted. One design, Signature, has a real natural oak wood veneer permanently bonded to an efficient insulated steel door core.
Various glass options can make your door unique and attractive: leaded or brass cames, etched, beveled, frosted, glue chip, etc. For the best comfort, efficiency and noise reduction, choose double or triple pane, low-emissivity glass with insulating inert argon gas in the gap.
An insulated steel door is one of the most secure designs against intruders. The steel skin is difficult to break. Many use heavy wood or ABS plastic (used for golf club heads) lock blocks that are very rugged.
Several new features can increase security even more. One, Alert Lock, has a built-in battery-operated burglar alarm. When the door is locked, the alarm is set. Any shaking of the door sets off a loud alarm for two minutes. The sensitivity is adjustable to eliminate false alarms.
Another security feature is a multi-point deadbolt lock. The deadbolt hooks into the frame in three locations from top to bottom. It is operated by a durable rack-and-pinion system hidden inside the door. All of the parts of multi-point locks are made of heavy solid brass.
Steel skin construction makes these doors efficient and maintenance-free. Many steel doors have insulating foam injected into the hollow door, providing an insulation value up to R-9. Another design uses a preformed rigid foam piece that is bonded inside the door during construction.
Because steel does not grow or shrink with humidity changes, it remains airtight. Choose a steel door that uses magnetic (refrigerator-type) weatherstripping seals. On many models, the sill can easily be adjusted up and down with a screwdriver to compensate for settling of a house.
Write for Update Bulletin No. 769 showing a buyer’s guide of 13 insulated steel front doors listing type of insulation and lock block, styles, glass options, security features, prices and installation instructions. Please include $2 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244. To rush bulletin delivery, e-mail: https://www.dulley.com
Letters and questions to Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244. To read 150 previous columns, e-mail Dulley at https://www.dulley.com