Entrance Doors: What To Know About Materials And More

Are you considering replacing your entrance door? Are you unsure what your entrance door options are when it comes to materials and styles? Your entrance door is not only an important part of achieving curb appeal, but it must also protect your property and family against potential intruders. 

This blog post will break down the basics of exterior doors and help you make the best decision for your home. After reading this article, you will be able to confidently decide on the material and style of an entrance door that best suits your home’s aesthetic.

Entrance Doors: What To Know About Materials And More

It can be overwhelming when trying to decide what materials, sizes, and accents are best for your needs.

Cost is another factor, but it can vary widely depending on what brand of door you purchase. For example, a Pella door costs more than a lesser-known door brand.

But we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide on entrance doors. Let’s get started!

Pre-hung Doors vs. Slab Doors

The first thing to understand about entrance doors is the difference between pre-hung and slab doors. 

Pre-hung doors: Pre-hung doors are literally hung in a frame before being installed, making them easier to install than slab doors which require cutting, trimming, and fitting into frames. Pre-hung doors come with all of the associated hardware included making them easier and faster to install than slab doors, but they may cost more upfront. Pre-hung entry doors are usually installed in new construction.

Slab doors: Slab doors only include the actual door itself without any frame or hinges attached. Slab doors are usually chosen if you already have an existing door frame. They’re more cost-effective than pre-hung options but will require more time and effort to install correctly since the hardware will need to be purchased separately and attached during installation.

Measuring An Entrance Door

After deciding between a pre-hung or slab door, you’ll need to measure your existing opening in order to determine what size of door is needed for replacement.

When it comes to measuring an entrance door, it’s important to know three main measurements:

  • Height (from the top of the door jamb to the bottom)
  • Width (from one side of the door jamb to another)
  • Jamb depth (the width of the door frame)

If you are measuring for a pre-hung door, the same measurements apply, but you will measure the full entrance opening without a frame in it.

What Is Door Swing?

Senior couple demonstrating an inswing door on their home

Door swing refers to the direction in which a door opens or closes. Imagine you are standing at your entrance door: if the door opens towards you, it is called an outswing door.

If the door opens away from you, it’s called an inswing door. Both types come in right-hand swing and left-hand swing configurations.

The direction of the door swing is usually determined by which side of the doorway has hinges attached; typically, it’s whichever side has fewer obstructions, such as nearby furniture or walls, etc.

Entrance Door Jargon Explained

Here are the definitions of some common door jargon terms:

Prehung Door: A pre-hung door is a factory-assembled complete unit with the frame, hinges, and hardware preinstalled, as well as the door itself. 

Slab Door: Slab doors are just a door without any additional hardware and require installation in an existing doorframe. 

Outswing: An outswing is a door that swings outward from the entrance of your home.

Inswing: Inswing entrance doors open towards the interior of the home.

Left Hand: An inswing door with hinges on the left side or an outswing door with hinges on the right.

Right Hand: An inswing door with hinges on the right side or an outswing door with hinges on the left.

Brickmould: Brickmould refers to the trim around entrance door frames that cover up gaps between the frame and the wall of the house.

Lite: A lite is a glass panel within your entrance door 

Divided lite: Multiple smaller glass panels (lites) that are divided or appear divided.

Grille: Grilles come in either plastic, metal, or wood and are intended to give the appearance of divided lites.

Caming: Similar to grilles in appearance, but caming actually holds separate pieces of glass together.

Note: When describing the location of door hardware (e.g., hinges or doorknobs) or door operation (inswing or outswing), you should always orient yourself on the outside of the home.

Materials For Entrance Doors

Choosing the proper material for your entrance doors can be a real balancing act–you want something that is strong and secure but also stylish and practical. Wood, fiberglass, iron, steel, and aluminum are some of the most popular materials for doors, and each comes with its own unique benefits. You can also get front glass doors, but they are usually framed in one of the materials listed above.


Brown Wood Front Door of a White Siding Southern House

Wood entrance doors are a classic choice and offer an attractive natural look with a range of grain patterns and color finishes. Wood doors mesh well with a traditional aesthetic and are available in a range of price points.


Fiberglass front doors can offer extra durability while also providing solid insulation against the elements. Fiberglass doors are gaining traction thanks to their ability to replicate wood in both looks and feel. They also typically have the longest warranties of all door types, thanks to their sturdy composite construction.

Wrought Iron

Iron entrance doors provide dependable performance and market appeal, as well as an added security boost. Wrought iron doors are typically designed with glass panes and are one of the costlier types of doors on the market.


Steel doors strike a balance between strength and affordability, which makes them a great budget option. Aesthetically, front doors made of steel provide a sleek, modern touch. Steel front doors also typically have better insulation and resistance to warping than other materials, such as wood.


Aluminum entrance doors often have sleek modern looks, but they can also be made to resemble wood if desired. Like steel doors, they feature an exterior metal layer with an insulated core. Aluminum doors are usually custom-made to fit your doorway and, as a result, are one of the costlier door material options.

Different Accents For Entry Doors

front door with sidelights and transom window, on brick house with stone steps

Accents are any additional elements you add to a basic front entry door to create a unique door design. It can include anything from hardware to glass style. Here are some of the most popular accents for entry doors and their definitions:

Transom: A decorative element above a door, usually made of glass. Popular shapes include rectangular, ellipse, and arch.

Sidelites: Also known as sidelights, these are narrow panes of glass installed on the sides of a door.

Decorative glass: Glass comes in a wide variety of styles and shapes and can be incorporated into your overall door design. From stained glass to divided lites, there are almost endless options when it comes to front door glass.

In-glass blinds: Similar to the adjustable blinds you’d find on a window, but specifically designed to fit between two panes of glass in your door.

Panel: A panel is simply a recessed rectangular panel on your door. Many traditional doors feature a six-panel design.

Handleset: A package of door hardware that typically includes the handle (or doorknob), lock cylinder, strike plate, and latch.

Doorbell: Available in low-tech and high-tech versions–such as Ring’s smart video doorbell.

Door knocker: Before doorbells, there were door knockers! These traditional exterior door accents are usually made of bronze, satin nickel, or brass.

Kick plate: A metal plate attached to the bottom part of a door that provides extra security and protection from scuff marks.

Patio Doors

Patio doors are simply any doors that open onto a patio, deck, or other outdoor living space. Patio doors can be in many different styles, including French doors and sliding glass doors.

French Doors

French doors on a home in Green Bay

French doors are two matching doors that mirror each other. They typically feature a design with multiple glass panes (or divided lites). They can be opened simultaneously or one at a time, thanks to a latch at the base of the doorframe that holds one of the doors in place.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors are usually made of two large glass panes that open by sliding the door inside a metal track. Sliding glass doors are probably the most popular patio door option.

Tips For Buying An Entrance Door

When you’re shopping for entrance doors, there are a few things to keep in mind. As entrance doors quite literally serve as the entrance to your home, it’s important to invest in one that is energy-efficient, secure and complements your home’s exterior.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

  • Measure your space accurately before buying an entrance door; incorrect measurements could mean costly repairs down the road.
  • Be sure that any hardware you purchase matches whatever door type you choose for your entryway. Buying the hardware from the same manufacturer that made the door is a good way to ensure everything works together.
  • If you’re getting a door with glass, look for energy-efficient Low-E glass that helps reduce heat loss in cold weather and reflects the sun’s rays in warm weather.
  • Always check warranty information before buying any kind of door.

Urban Exteriors Can Upgrade Your Doors And Windows

With our comprehensive guide, hopefully, you now have a better idea of what type of entrance doors are available, in addition to tips on how best to select the perfect one for your home and lifestyle. 

If you’re ready to enhance the exterior of your home with new doors and windows, give us a call or fill out our contact form.

One of our expert consultants will be in touch shortly to help you find the best fit for your needs.