In the past, wood was the only option for an exterior door material. Nowadays, demands for steel and fiberglass are steadily rising because they offer some unique characteristics wood cannot provide. Replacing exterior doors is no longer as easy as just choosing the right style.
However, picking between a steel door vs fiberglass door is not that simple if you have no idea about their specific benefits and drawbacks.
An exterior door’s purpose is not only about making the home’s facade look pretty. Aside from the boost in curb appeal, they are also responsible for the home’s security and comfort. Insulation and durability are other significant factors you need to consider as well. Finally, a door’s upkeep is another vital aspect to think about.
C2 Operations is here to help you make an informed decision. As you read further, you will discover how each of these door material types performs. These facts will support you when it’s time to choose a new exterior door.
The Differences Between Steel Doors and Fiberglass Doors
The quickest way to differentiate a steel door from a fiberglass door is with their material composition.
First and foremost, a steel door is not exactly made of solid steel. A solid steel door is not possible, especially for residential use, because it would be too heavy. The truth is, a steel door consists of polystyrene or a polyurethane core wrapped by a steel skin on top. You will not see the core sticking out of the side of the door because a wood frame called a stile surrounds its perimeter.
Fiberglass manufacturing uses the same concept as steel doors. Instead of polyurethane core, manufacturers use a highly-insulating foam core. Two fiberglass doors sandwich this core through the process of compressing and molding. The molding process is what allows fiberglass door manufacturers to create different designs for the door.
Below is a point-by-point comparison between these two types of door materials:
Appearance is a significant factor when choosing a door. It is the first thing guests see when they arrive at your property. While not all of your neighbors can have the privilege to view your home’s interior, everyone gets to see your front door. As such, it is crucial to pick a door that has the capability to match your home’s overall exterior design.
Steel Door Appearance
Contrary to what most people think, a steel door is customizable. You can have it painted with colors to match your home’s theme. You can even install windows on the door to add more flair. However, the design choices are relatively few compared to fiberglass. There are door designs that a steel door can only do so much.
While you can also have a steel door with a wood grain, it is not nearly as permanent since it is just a PVC vinyl layer added on top of the surface.
Fiberglass Door Appearance
A fiberglass door excels in the appearance department compared to a steel door. The ability to create a mold for the door’s design makes the aesthetic options endless. A fiberglass door can effectively mimic even a high-end, luxurious solid wood design.
Due to this door’s highly-customizable nature, it will never look out of place in your home as long as you match your style. It can achieve the same wood staining effect without using another PVC vinyl layer as it comes with the fiberglass mold.
Considering the durability is crucial in picking the material, especially for your front door. Exterior doors are not just beset by everyday use – it also has to deal with barrages from the weather and the elements. Both steel and fiberglass doors are an excellent choice compared to wood in this department. They both do not warp or swell and are impervious to mold.
However, one of them has its own set of challenges to face that somehow mirrors the disadvantages of a wood door.
Steel Door Durability
A steel door can resist the weather better than wood as extreme heat and cold will not compromise its integrity. You need not worry about your entrance getting scratched by your pet because a steel door can withstand it as well.
However, this type of door material is prone to dents, chips, and cracks. It is also not a good choice for those living in a high humidity area with salty air as it will definitely contract rust.
Fiberglass Door Durability
When it comes to durability, a fiberglass door beats a steel door. Fiberglass doors are not prone to scratches and the weather. Additionally, their material will never get infested by molds or compromised by rust. Another great thing about a fiberglass door’s durability is that it ages well.
Compared to steel doors, a fiberglass entryway will still look great even more than five years after its installation. Still, you should remember that this type of door’s durability is dependent on the quality of the make – cheaper fiberglass doors can get cracks more easily than high-end ones.
Price and ROI
To get the most out of this factor, you must strike a balance between price and return on investment. A cheap door that breaks down easily is always not a good choice because you will have to pay for a new one in the short run. On the other hand, a pricier option can beat a cheaper one if it helps you save money consistently.
Steel Door ROI
The cost of steel doors is cheaper than fiberglass doors. In fact, this is one of the biggest advantages it has over other types of door materials. Since it is more durable than a more costly solid wood, a steel door is a great investment and will last for a long time.
Fiberglass Door ROI
A fiberglass door is typically pricier than steel and some engineered wood doors. However, it pays for itself because of the savings you get from repairs and insulation. Since fiberglass is weatherproof, you will not have to worry about your door getting damaged because of flying debris. Plus, the insulation provided helps ensure your utility bills remain relatively low.
An exterior door that looks clean and snappy can create a good impression of a home. However, you do not want to be cleaning your front door all the time to maintain its looks. The ease of upkeep is an essential factor to consider, especially if you are not someone who plans to spend your weekend maintaining your exterior door.
Steel Door Maintenance
A steel door only needs wiping to remove dust and dirt from its smooth surface. However, make sure not to hose it down because the steel is not stainless and will eventually rust. This drawback is one of the reasons homeowners also install a storm door on top of their steel doors. For patio doors that have scratches on their surface, it is crucial to repaint them immediately to prevent the steel door from rusting.
Fiberglass Door Maintenance
Cleaning a fiberglass door requires nothing more than occasional wiping down with a damp rag. There is no need to repaint it if, in rare instances, it gets scratched. Compared to a steel door, a fiberglass door is more of a set-and-forget type of door, which means it is almost maintenance-free.
When to Choose a Steel Door
Planning to go for a steel door but still not 100% sure? Here are some main reasons to check if a steel door is the right one for you:
- You prefer a more affordable option when it comes to initial cost.
- With steel doors nearly impervious to break-in attempts, they are an excellent choice if you live in a neighborhood that requires maximum security.
- You are willing to repaint the steel door in case of scratches.
- Your area is not consistently humid, and you are far from the salty air of the coast.
- You are willing to spend additional money on storm doors if required.
When to Choose a Fiberglass Door
Fiberglass is becoming the preferred door material for those who want to replace their entryway for various reasons. If you consider the benefits of fiberglass doors, it is a great choice if you:
- Have the means to shoulder the initial cost for a better return on investment
- Want to ensure that electricity bills would not spike because of a fiberglass door’s high energy efficiency
- Would like to ensure that your door is weatherproof and can withstand flying debris even during strong winds
- Do not want to invest in installing a storm door on top of your exterior door
- Want a very low upkeep door that only requires occasional wiping
- Prefer an exterior door with lots of aesthetic options, matching even highly-expensive luxurious solid wood door
Choose A Door That Meets Your Needs
Choosing between a steel door and a fiberglass door is no longer as confusing, considering the things you learned here. There is no bad choice, but it all just depends on your specific situation and preferences. If you are still having difficulty choosing between the two, the door professionals at C2 Operations can give you expert advice on the best way to proceed.
Contact C2 Operations today and receive a free estimate to determine the optimal door for you.