How to pick the perfect front door for your project - Grand Designs Magazine

How to pick the perfect front door for your project

First impressions count and an entrance door sets the tone for your whole property

Promotional Feature By Hugh Metcalf |

Your front door makes a statement about your home. First impressions count and an entrance door sets the tone for your whole property.

Not just functional, a front door needs to fit in with the overall style of your house whether you have a period home or a contemporary new build. Choose wisely and you can achieve the right aesthetic as well as keeping your property secure and warm for years to come. So if you want to know how to create impact and curb appeal, read on.

modern house with bright orange front door - self build - grand designs

Image: Timber FunkyFront door, Kloeber 


Consider the architecture of your home when choosing your door panel. The look and period of your property will direct you to either a contemporary or a traditional style door. Are you looking for a plain minimal style or something more ornate? Which way do you want the door to open and what kind of frame style would you prefer? You can choose from any number of RAL colours (or stains for timber doors) and perhaps a dual colour option would suit your internal and external décor. Think about whether you would like a contrasting colour of door panel and frame.

Bear in mind UPVC doors have fewer styles and colour choices, however, all these options allow you to have fun designing your own unique front door.

modern aluminium door on traditioal brick house - grand designs - self build

Image: Aluminium FunkyFront door, Kloeber

Brighten up your hall

If you need extra light in your hallway then a glass pane within the door panel might suit. A fanlight, (a glass panel above the door) or sidelights on one or both sides of the door panel can add an interesting design feature.

You can choose from double or triple glazing and a variety of glass types to help with solar gain, thermal efficiency and security. If privacy concerns you then opaque glass might offer peace of mind. Opaque glass also gives you the opportunity to have your house number or name picked out in clear glass.

Traditional front door with window glass and lettering - self build - grand designs

Image: Timber KlassicFront door, Kloeber 


Budget and material types for an entrance door go hand in hand – where the more budget conscious may opt for UPVC, those happy to spend a little more can choose hardwoods and aluminium.

Different material types will also have varying thermal properties so consider the U-values and the airtightness ratings when making this choice too. It is always a good idea to understand how the front door is constructed. Some panels have a void in the middle; this is more common in UPVC doors. Some doors have a timber core that is good for insulating; this is the case with a solid timber door or some composite doors.

The best thermal efficiency will come from a door with insulation in its core. To protect against air leakage you should chose a material that does not move, swell or bow with climatic change. Engineered timber is a very stable material that will have minimal movement and maintain a weather tight seal. Also, ensure that the frame is fitted in a thermally efficient way to prevent air and water coming through.

Timber doors are available in a greater number of styles, colours and panel designs and will suit a wider variety of properties. Thanks to modern microporous paints and stains, maintenance of timber doors is easier than it used to be. A high quality paint finish should only require maintenance every 8-10 years.

Aluminium doors have a contemporary feel and are more suited to a modern style of property. Larger door panels are available in aluminium and due to a powder-coated finish; they are extremely durable and resistant to corrosion therefore a low-maintenance option.

black front door on contemporary cladded home - grand design - self build

Image: Timber FunkyFront door, Kloeber 

Handles and hinges

The final addition to any door is the look and specification of the furniture. This can make or break the aesthetic and on-going usability. Modern door furniture, including knobs, knockers, hinges, letter-plates and handles, comes in a range of different styles and finishes such as polished chrome, brushed steel or brass. Be sure to match the style of furniture with the style of the door. Don’t go too modern on a traditional panelled door and perhaps stay away from a shiny brass handle on an ultra-sleek modern door.

Classic style timber front door with four panels - grand designs - self build

Image: Timber KlassicFront door, Kloeber 

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of your front door is more important than you may think. Front doors often lead into a hallway where there is access to other rooms. If this main access point to your home is not energy efficient then it can have quite an effect on the rest of the house. Overall energy ratings can help you choose an energy efficient product.

The U-value, a measure of thermal transmittance, which is the value of heat loss through the product, should be lower than 1.8 for a replacement front door. The L-value is a measure of air permeability, which is tested and measured in ‘Pascals’ (the higher the better). The G-value, solar factor, is the percentage of solar energy that passes through glass. Both U-value and L value are much more important than the solar factor, which only really applies to products with a large amount of glass where the UV light and heat can get through.

modern timber door on self build homes - grand designs

Image: Timber FunkyFront door, Kloeber 


Doors for new build properties need to comply with document Q of the Building Regulations (security in new dwellings). This does not apply to a new door on an existing property but the testing is still relevant to ensure you are getting a secure door. For enhanced security, look for doors that have passed the strict testing and auditing for Secured By Design certification.

A visit to a showroom is important to get a feel for the door’s quality and to understand the difference between materials and styles. Discuss your needs with a reputable supplier who will be able to look at your plans or your existing property and help you make the right choice.

traditional front door with glass panes - self build - grand designs

Image: Timber KlassicFront door, Kloeber