Front doors: a buyer’s guide

How to choose the best style, material and size for your home and meet planning regulations

By Rebecca Foster | 10 March 2021

A good quality front door should keep your home safe and secure and prevent drafts. It can also make or break the kerb appeal of your property. This front door guide will help you select the best style, material and size for your home, as well as offering advice on planning regulations.

Grey panelled front door with chrome fittings in a traditional-style house

Triple glazed timber entrance door from Green Building Store

Which style should I choose?

In general, it is a good idea to stick with a front door design that suits the style of your home. Victorian houses often have imposing entrances including a panelled door in a dark colour with gothic details. Edwardian front doors are lighter in style and paler in colour with decorative glazing. For contemporary homes, an oversized door with glazing to the sides and above makes an entrance stand out and creates a light-filled interior.

‘Hinged, pivot and double doors are the main style options,’ says Elizabeth Assaf, co-founder of Urban Front. ‘Double doors often lead to one panel being unused, meaning that the actual walk-through is small. I recommend having one big front door as it enables a wider walk-through and still looks impressive.’

An oversized pivoting front door in European oak

Porto e80 pivot door set in European oak with adjacent cladding, Urban Front

Consider the front door material

UPVC Designs come in an array of colours and finishes, with off-the-shelf models in standard dimensions. ‘Fitting is relatively simple as the doors are lightweight and small,’ says Leanne Chandler, director of CMS Garage & Entrance Doors. On the downside, uPVC products are more prone to movement due to temperature change.

A high-quality composite design will be more expensive than uPVC. ‘Composites comprise several materials. There is an insulated or softwood core and a plastic panel on the external and internal sides,’ says Matt Higgs, director and co-owner of Klöeber.

Strong and durable timber is great for oversized designs and has excellent thermal performance. But it’s likely to require maintenance and needs treating or repainting from time to time. Softwood designs are more prone to warping if not properly maintained.

Metal options

Aluminium can be powder-coated in any colour and can have impressive thermal performance due to insulating material in the door’s core. Because of its strength, it’s possible to get designs that are taller and wider than standard.

‘There are several finishing options, including wood effect, rust, concrete, porcelain and liquid metal,’ says Leanne. ‘But installation can be trickier due to the size and weight, as most are triple glazed and laminated.’

Steel is a robust option but unsuitable for coastal properties. ‘If your house is near the sea, a steel core should have an aluminium outer or a marine-grade premium protective coating,’ advises Rebecca Clayton, director at IQ Glass.

Check the lifespan

Whichever material you choose, check how long it’s likely to last with the supplier. ‘If the door is good quality and regularly maintained, it should last a lifetime,’ says Matt Higgs. Timber designs should last at least 60 years, uPVC between 20 and 25 years, and aluminium somewhere between the two.

Thermal performance is important too. Replacement models should have a U-value of 1.8 W/m2K. This is a measurement of heat loss, with lower numbers indicating superior performance. For new-builds, the U-value for a new front door should be 2.0 W/m2K or less.