Home sales and curb appeal: A lot hinges on your front door – The Virginian-Pilot

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Shopping for a home is a lot like online dating. So much rides on that first photo, and a prospect’s curb appeal often determines whether you cross the figurative threshold or swipe left.
As homes go, the focus of that first impression falls on the front door, which should draw you in. However, many front doors don’t do their homes any such favor.
“So many people buy a home and just live with the door that it comes with, when they could really improve the whole face of their home by changing it,” said Jennifer Matson, spokesperson for JELD-WEN, a North Carolina supplier of doors and windows. “Replacing a door is such an easy and relatively inexpensive project compared to most renovations. Many studies show that replacing your front door almost always pays for itself. I don’t know why more homeowners don’t do it.”
“I know why,” I tell her. “Because most homeowners don’t know where to start. They look online at door options, get overwhelmed, then go play Wordle.”
Matson broke the process down. “Start by asking what you want from your front door,” she said. “Better curb appeal, greater security, more light or privacy, greater energy efficiency? All that is possible.”
If the underlying door is in good condition, a fresh coat of paint and new hardware can make it look new again. However, if you can see daylight peeking through, if hot or cold air is coming in, if rust or rot is evident or if you don’t like its looks, a new door may be in order. If so, here’s what to consider.
Choose your material: The most popular front door options are steel, fiberglass and wood. Wood is classic and beloved, but it is the most expensive and will need the most maintenance. Steel is the most secure and least expensive. Fiberglass doors are becoming more popular, because they offer the low-maintenance and durability of steel and the look of wood.
Consider price point: Steel doors are the least expensive at around $500, not including installation. Fiberglass costs between $500 and $800, and wood doors cost upwards of $1,000. Double doors and custom doors can run several thousand dollars. A complete system, which includes hardware and a pre-hung door in its frame, is $2,000 to $4,000.
Factor in your exposure: Though steel, fiberglass and wood will all work in any climate, expect to repaint or re-stain a wood door more often, especially if you live near the coast, or if your door gets direct sun and weather.
Glass or solid: Glass inserts, sidelights and transoms provide more light and sometimes less privacy. It adds expense to any door but may also add interest. About 40 percent of the doors Matson’s company sells have glass.
The trends: Door trends move slowly, but they exist, Matson said. Today’s homeowners are moving away from oval or arched windows in favor of square and rectangular panes. Fewer are choosing ornate, cut or etched glass, though frosted glass remains popular. A popular door style today is the three-quarter glass door, where the bottom fourth of the door is solid, and the rest is glass.
Paint or stain? A wood-stained door is a classic and popular choice, outpacing painted doors seven to three, Matson said. However, if your home lends itself to a painted door, that splash of color can deliver a lot of style and personality. Whether you paint or stain, choose a high-gloss sheen meant for exteriors.
Color me classic: When choosing a door color, consider the palette of your home, its architecture, your neighborhood and geography. Don’t rely on an online list of most popular door colors. Look to classics like red, navy or gray, as well as black, which is hot in doors right now. If you live near a coast or in the South, other favorites include yellow, coral, and turquoise.
Common mistakes: “The biggest mistake I see is when someone chooses a door that doesn’t fit their home’s architecture,” Matson said. “For instance, they put an ultra-modern door on a traditional home. That doesn’t mean you can’t update your door, but it still needs to go with the look.” Another mistake: choosing a color that doesn’t go with your house. Some things, like your favorite shade of purple, should stay indoors.
Don’t do this yourself. A door is only as good as its fit. The hinges have to line up just right, and the close has to be watertight, with no gaps. Unless you are an experienced door installer, leave this job to the pros.
Marni Jameson has written six home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Blended Home – When Two Households Become One.” Reach her at www.marnijameson.com.
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