Selecting the right exterior door is a crucial decision that goes beyond aesthetics. Exterior doors serve as the gateway to your home, with opportunities to offer security, energy efficiency, and curb appeal. With a multitude of options available, this buying guide will help you navigate through the choices, ensuring you make an informed decision that suits both your style and practical needs.

Types of Exterior Doors

The first step in choosing an exterior door is understanding the various types available:

  • Entry Doors: These are the main doors that provide access to your home. They come in a range of styles, from traditional to modern, and can feature decorative glass panels, sidelights, and transoms.
  • Patio Doors: Ideal for connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, patio doors typically include sliding doors and French doors. They can offer ample natural light and a great view.
  • Garage and Side Doors: These are used as entryways to either your garage or the side of your home. They typically function similarly to entry doors but with less decoration.
  • Storm Doors: These are secondary exterior doors installed in front of entry doors to provide added protection against weather elements. They can also enhance energy efficiency.
  • Screen Doors: Similar to storm doors, screen doors allow fresh air into your home while keeping bugs out. They’re a great addition to homes in mild climates.

In most cases, when homeowners talk about buying a new exterior door, they’re referring to entry doors, patio doors, garage doors, or side doors. That’s what we’ll stick to in this article.

Your First Decision: Pre-Hung vs. Slab Door

This decision is about how the door is built, and what components it includes or doesn’t include. There isn’t a “wrong” decision here; it just depends on your project needs.

  • A pre-hung door comes with the door already attached to the frame, with hinges, a threshold, and sometimes weatherstripping. 
  • A slab door is just the door itself, without the frame or hardware.

Choose a pre-hung door if:

  • You want the easiest installation process
  • You’re installing a door on a newly built house
  • Your current door is more than 25 years old


Choose a slab door if:

  • You want to replace your door but keep your existing frame and hardware
  • You need a custom size door

Exterior Door Materials

The material you choose for your exterior door can influence its durability, maintenance needs, appearance, and energy efficiency. The most popular material choices for homeowners are wood, fiberglass, and steel.

Wood Doors

wood doors

Wood offers classic elegance and can be customized with various finishes. Wood will remain in excellent condition for many years, as long as you’re committed to a proper care routine. The material requires regular maintenance and cleaning to prevent warping and rotting.

Fiberglass Doors

fiberglass doors

Fiberglass is known for its durability and resistance to weathering. It can mimic the look of wood but requires the maintenance that comes with it. Fiberglass doors come in a variety of colors and styles.

Steel Doors

steel doors

Steel provides excellent security and energy efficiency. Nowadays, modern coatings can help prevent rusting. However, steel doors are prone to dents and scratching. For this reason, they’re most often used for garage or side doors that won’t affect the front curb appeal of the home as significantly.

To learn more about the characteristics, pros, and cons of these exterior door materials, head over to this blog

How to Measure Your Exterior Door

  • Accurate measurements are crucial to ensure your new door fits properly. Follow these tips:
  • Measure the width of the door opening at the top, middle, and bottom. Use the smallest measurement.
  • Measure the height from the sill to the head jamb on the left, right, and center. Again, use the shortest measurement.
  • For pre-hung doors: measure your door opening’s thickness to ensure the new door and frame will fit in it. For slab doors: measure your door’s thickness to ensure the new door will fit into your existing frame.

Best Exterior Door Brands

Exterior doors don’t come cheap, but they are an investment in the curb appeal, security, comfort, and overall value of your home. The associated cost also means that you’ll want to choose a door from a reputable manufacturer so you can ensure quality. We trust the following list of manufacturers to provide best-in-class products: 

At Zeeland Lumber & Supply, we carry a variety of exterior door solutions from these brands. Plus, we partner with professional contractors who we trust to hang your doors properly for you. Stop into one of our locations or contact us online to learn more about how we can help with your project. 

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