After Going Modern, Entry Doors Swing to Eclectic

By Drew Vass

If you’re frustrated by searching for entry doors to match the eclectic tastes of today’s homebuyers, there’s good news: the latest trends make that job a lot easier. If you’re tired of framing massive openings and would like to get back to standard-sized doors, well, then chances are you’re out of luck. The oversized door trend lingers on—now with more glass and simulated divided lites.

The supply catalogue for entry doors shrank in recent years, as manufacturers have worked to decrease SKUs and take a little slack out of the supply chain amid COVID-19. But have a closer look and you’ll find that all of the same styles are there; they’re just mixed and matched between modern and traditional.

No sooner did the market turn to more modern doors, via narrow site lines and smooth finishes, than the industry began blending those elements with more traditional styles. Those mash-ups have led to more exterior doors with paneled designs. Add to that a broader range of solid colors and matte finishes and, these days, when walking through a showroom, you might find it difficult to tell entry doors from interior.

“We want everything we have on the inside of a home to have the ability to match an exterior door,” says Carol Kelly, director of sales for Masonite’s Rocky Mountain region.

Flipping the Script

In the meantime, homebuyers are dreaming up their own unique choices and combinations—including placing some exterior doors into interior spaces, says Lou Trottier, regional sales manager for Simpson Door Co.

“We’re doing a lot of Dutch style doors lately,” Trottier says. “It seems to be a current trend or fad,” he suggests. While Dutch-style doors have had their place off and on over the years, especially among matching home designs, they’ve mostly been relegated to kitchens and laundry rooms. Now, homeowners have begun to use them in interior locations such as kids’ bedrooms, he says.

This is just one example for how homebuyers are driving new ideas, some leading to mash-ups between modern and traditional doors. Paneled doors, which are among the most run-of-the-mill traditional, have begun to lean more modern, with aesthetics that fit in with eclectic looks, such as modern farmhouse.

Manufacturers have also begun to add more glass to their paneled doors, bringing back historical looks, says Garrett Booher, who handles retail sales for Therma-Tru in Florida. “Where I’m from, some of the most popular doors going right now are the more modern looking designs, but with simulated divided glass that’s more traditional,” he says. Part of achieving those looks includes adding simulated divided lites by applying grills to the outside of glass with double-sided adhesive tapes. Not only is this method less expensive to produce than true divided lites, but by using monolithic insulating glass units (IGUs), it’s also more energy efficient. In the end, “A lot of my customers don’t know it isn’t a divided lite until I tell them,” Booher says.

If you’re concerned with authenticity, you can look for brands that utilize a false spacer system to provide a visual break between lites, reinforcing the look of yesterday’s true divided lites. Even at closeup range, it’s nearly impossible to tell.

Adding more glass to paneled doors is also a return to historical trends, says Michael Tull, sales representative, south region, for Plastpro. “Some older doors were ¾-lite, with raised panel at the bottom and the [glass] lite on top,” Tull says. “We make a door like that and it’s one of the more popular we have. But 10 years ago, you couldn’t get anyone to do it. It’s come back and it’s strong.”

Speaking of traditional, when it comes to wood doors, manufacturers spent recent years searching for ways to compete with fiberglass, by making their products more durable and energy efficient. In some cases that includes adding an insulating foam core topped with wood. Others have worked to make wood more durable through specialized treatments. But that hasn’t stopped fiberglass from increasing in popularity mainly due to maintenance and durability benefits, says Dalvin Green, manager of national accounts for Jeld-Wen. But wood maintains a stronghold in certain markets and regions, Schmidt suggests. “Up in the northern parts, we don’t sell any exterior wood, mostly due to the [weather] extremes,” he says.

“In the south, we sell a lot of exterior wood doors—mostly fir and mahogany.”

States that trend toward wood doors include those where there’s a desire for historical accuracy, such as Texas and Louisiana.

Size Matters

Over the past decade, taller ceilings have led to bigger entry doors. Now those increased sizes have given some materials an advantage as more glass comes into the picture. For instance, as doors incorporate larger glass panels, a lack of thermal performance in wood becomes less of a factor. With more glass, the cost of surrounding materials also goes down. In an 8-foot-tall prototype produced by GlassCraft, for instance, fiberglass becomes more affordable than steel, says Brent Ziebold, national sales manager.

Where solid materials remain in play, entry doors have followed many of the same trends set by windows and interior doors. For instance, when it comes to colors and finishes, more entry doors now feature bright pallets, a trend that started several years ago in interior doors. They’re also featuring darker colors—a trend that started in Europe. Darker colors have also brought on the use of matte finishes.  “Doors aren’t all shiny or glossy anymore,” Green says.

Why all the mixing? “What’s the main reason you have a door?” he asks. “First it’s for security. Beyond that, people are looking to make a statement.”

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DWM Magazine

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