You never get a second chance to make a first impression. For homeowners, the entrance system is the first impression their home makes on its guests. For the contractors installing exterior doors, they are lasting impressions of their skills.

“It’s basically your first focal point when you’re entering the home, so it absolutely plays a big part in its curb appeal,” says Marianne Thompson, Vice-President of Sales at JELD-WEN of Canada, of the importance placed by consumers on their front doors. While many consumers today are seeking custom doors that highlight their own personal styles, they are doing so with a keen eye on the issues of performance, security and energy efficiency.

“Today everyone wants something different,” says John Arsenault, Director of Sales for Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems. “There are three or four families of style emerging as popular, but they are all very different.”

From Shaker style doors to ’70s and ’80s-style multi-door-lite throwbacks, providing customers with ample choices is the key to connecting with their individual tastes; however, savvy contractors can help homeowners discover options they didn’t yet know that they always wanted.

Adding Value
With the sharp increase in real estate prices in many regions, it only makes sense that homeowners are in turn spending more attention (and money) sprucing up the entrance into their huge investment. For many it’s a great way to easily and affordably increase the home’s value.

“Housing costs have climbed, but pricing on exterior doors have remained competitive,” says Hardy Rahn, Director of Sales at Alliance Door Products Canada. “So, when all of the sudden you (the homeowner) are spending a half a million on a home, you can cost-effectively add a lot of value with a relatively small investment in the exterior door, and there are now so many more options available.”

Photo courtesy of All Weather Windows

Big and Tall

As they have for years, trends are continuing towards wider and taller doors, say manufacturers, with 8’ doors continuing to replace standard 6’ 8” entrances. “Larger and wider doors make a home stand out,” says Tracy Nadiger, Director of Marketing at All Weather Windows.

This adoption of larger doors is driven by the trends towards higher ceilings in new homes and, Thompson says, it ties directly back to curb appeal. “When you get to higher end and custom build, all the entrance doors are 8’,” she adds.

The trend can be found coast to coast. For instance, while Rahn witnesses it in the west, particularly Alberta and the B.C. lower mainland, Arsenault notes interest in the Atlantic, such as his home city of Halifax.

“Homeowners are looking for 8’ doors, wider doors, and double doors, of course,” Arsenault notes. “Also, they are looking for multipoint locks instead of just a straight handle and deadbolt.”

Arsenault points out that three or four-point locking systems offer performance improvements due to a tighter seal and hold stronger for greater security. They become even more important the larger the door, and Kohler’s recommends them on all 8’ slabs.

Exacting Aesthetics

While numerous styles are popular, a few notable design features appear to be leading the charge. Contemporary designs, with straight, simple lines and little or no embossing continues to grow in approval.

“Many homeowners are looking to follow their interior door pattern outside,” Arsenault says. Thompson notes the reverse—coordinating their interior doors to match the exterior—is also true.

In keeping with contemporary style,“The door glass itself is getting very linear,” he adds. “Straight-lines and textured glass that obscures with a pebble or bubble effect, for example. There are no more flowers or swirls in glass designs. They’re just looking for very clean looking.”

Photo courtesy of Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems

Photo courtesy of All Weather Windows

Of course, door lite preferences, like all home fashions, vary by region. “The markets across Canada differ between full glass, some glass and no glass for varying degrees of privacy,” Nadiger points out, with custom glass textures and types being popular. Full-length door lites, with or without side lites, are also very popular, Thompson suggests. Some homeowners may want to match their door lites with their window glass.

All manufacturers point to a high interest from today’s consumers in Shaker Craftsman doors. “Today’s consumers want truer architectural detailing,” Rahn notes. “They want architectural accuracy, like 90° angles for a true Shaker Craftsman look.”
Fibreglass Growth

More and more homeowners are requesting fiberglass doors, especially those that emulate wood grains for their aesthetics and performance.

As code changes continue to push energy performance demands up, manufacturers say that fibreglass is a cost-effective alternative to the insulated hardwood doors that many find visually more attractive than steel.

“It’s not like the steel doors of the’70s and ’80s,” Arsenault says. “It’s like, ‘I can’t believe it’s not wood,’ when you look at one of our hand-stained fibreglass doors. It’s very rich looking. There’s no trade off.”

Whereas a typical exterior wood door might have an R value of 2, fiberglass can boast R-12 or R-14. This is the energy efficiency of the slab alone, of course, but has a significant impact on the overall entrance system. The U.S. Department of Energy says that steel or fibreglass-clad door systems have R values of about five times better than solid wood.

Maintenance is, of course, another major motivator for homeowners asking for fiberglass over wood. “No one wants to spend their Saturdays off doing maintenance, so they are going to fiberglass for the longevity and because they know it’s going to perform,” Rahn says.

Photos courtesy of Alliance Door Products

Photos courtesy of Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems

Bold Hues
Colour is one of the easiest ways for an entrance door to stand out and homeowners are gravitating towards bolder ones.

“We have a colour paint shop,and we’re now painting more custom colours than standard ones,” says John Arsenault, Director of Sales at Peter Kohler Windows and Entrance Systems. “We’re seeing more oranges, purples, firetruck red…”

While brighter and bolder colours are experiencing an uptick, when it comes to woodgrain-textured fibreglass doors, the tendency is towards darker stains such as mahogany or even black.

Photos courtesy of Spectrum Brands

Get Smart
Keyless electronic locks have continued to gain popularity with consumers, says Steve Kolobaric, Channel Marketing Manager at Spectrum Brands, maker of Weiser locks.

“The number one thing consumers are looking for today is electronics,” Kolobaric says. “They aren’t afraid of it anymore, and they are getting really excited about what the technology can do.”

Locking systems like Weiser’s SmartCode not only allow keyless entry and remote access but now integrate with other elements of the smart home. Integration continues to expand as players like Weiser work with technology giants like Apple and Google.

“The lock has become the central part of the smart home,” he says. “People like the ability to lock and unlock their doors from anywhere in the world, but also to have it communicate with other parts of the house. For example, when you lock the door from outside it can arm the alarm, turn off the lights and drop the thermostat.”