By Camilla McLaughlin — For The Associated Press
Nothing makes more of a statement about a home than the front door.
"Not only is a front door the gateway to your home it also is your distinct identity to the outside world," says Robin Avni, senior director at the cultural research firm, Iconoculture.
With sidelights, transoms, decorative hardware, and accents there is nothing generic about entries today. From custom double doors with arched tops and intricate detailing inspired by old world designs to craftsmen designs inset with art glass, options for doors are virtually unlimited.
"We're experiencing increasing interest in entry doors with all the bells and whistles larger sizes, custom glass, grilles and hardware," said Elizabeth Souders, product marketing manager for Jeld-Wen doors. "Homeowners with top-of-the-line tastes are very focused on their front doors, and others seeking an upgrade see this as a good place to invest in making a statement."
Even homeowners keeping an eye on the bottom line discover that custom looks have never been more affordable with fiberglass costing about a third less than solid wood doors. Just as with windows, fiberglass is becoming a popular, less costly alternative to wood and, unlike wood, doesn't rot or warp.
Unlike earlier versions, today's fiberglass doors are available in many finishes even mimicking expensive species such as mahogany, knotty alder or Douglas fir. Not only do they look like the real McCoy but many models also have the solid feel and heavy framing of wood because they are fabricated using a pattern made from a real wood door.
While most attention is focused on the aesthetics of the door itself, energy efficiency is achieved by all the components working together.
"Most homeowners don't think of their doors as a complete system, but there's a lot of performing parts around a door that work together to contain energy in a home while keeping the weather out," says Kevin Fuschich, a spokesman for Edura Products, which makes components that surround doors.
"Homeowners should pay attention to what surrounds their doors," he explains. "It's the sill, weather stripping, and frame that are really going to protect the home from air and water infiltration and save energy. Fifteen percent of lost energy results from poorly-sealed entry doors."
At the same time, there is growing interest in doors that completely open up a space, blurring the line that differentiates doors and walls.
"People can't believe they are so structurally sound that is why they are called walls," says Ibrahaim Nana, founder of NanaWall Systems.
"What makes us unique is the shelter part. When it's closed it is as comfortable as a fixed wall," he says referring to his product.
Nana isn't the only provider of glass walls and doors, and each manufacturer accomplishes the task a little differently. Some slide into pockets in the structure, other fold back onto themselves. While disappearing doors may still only be for upscale homes, like most new products they will leave an imprint of the industry overall.
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