When home owners are looking for new external doors, they often spend the majority of their budget on a fantastic front door to impress the neighbours. But the back door is equally important. All too often, a rear or side door turns out to be the weak spot in a home’s defences – ask any burglar.
So do your homework, and make sure your new back door is at least as strong and secure as the front. Here are a few things to look out for:
Your back door doesn’t have to look exactly the same as the front one, but for the sake of visual harmony it’s still best to pick a design that goes with the period and style of your property – so I would advise against installing, say, a gleaming aluminium and glass door in a Georgian town house.
Stable doors are an increasingly popular choice, particularly for older homes and country cottages. On a sunny day you can open the top half and enjoy the view, while keeping small children and pets secure.
French doors and sliding patio doors are ideal for bringing in natural light and creating easy access to your outside space. You can also get large glazed folding doors that open out completely, giving an unobstructed view of the garden.
Size matters, so measure the opening very carefully before ordering to avoid a costly mistake. Standard off-the-shelf wooden doors, the most economical option, are available in a range of widths (usually between 30 and 36 inches), and most of them can be trimmed to fit – but check first, as this is not always the case.
If the existing door frame is damaged, or you are planning to buy a plastic or fibreglass door that cannot be cut to size, you will need to get a door set, comprising a frame and matching door. This will obviously cost more than just a door leaf, but at least you know it will definitely fit.
Timber, primarily pine, oak and hemlock, is the most popular natural material used in the manufacture of external doors. Solid wood doesn’t stand up very well to our British weather, so nearly all doors are now made from engineered timber – tiny sections of wood bound together with adhesive. The resulting multi-layered material is extremely robust, and a good deal more stable than natural timber. The panels are then glued and fixed together with dowels – tiny wooden pegs – or stronger, but more expensive mortise and tenon joints.
To finish off, the door is coated in wood veneer. A thin layer of an expensive timber can be used to cover a cheaper hardwood core, keeping costs down. The process also ensures that a consistent colour and grain can be used across all the door panels.
Another door frame option is PVC, a heavy-duty plastic reinforced with a steel core. Popular and affordable, it is most often used in glazed patio doors – great for letting in lots of natural light. Aluminium is a practical and lightweight alternative, but not a look that appeals to everyone.
Composite doors are also worth considering. Designed to look like wood, they are made from a blend of materials which can include plastic, resin, wood and glass fibres. They often cost more than timber doors but are extremely durable, come in a range of colours and require little or no maintenance.
If your budget is limited, a door manufactured in pine, hemlock or a more obscure hardwood such as sapele or idigbo could fit the bill. You can also save money by purchasing an unfinished door to stain or paint at home. At the other end of the scale, an oak door may cost more initially but will look great and last many years.
Don’t forget to allow for door furniture in your budget, particularly a good lock – make sure you get one specified as anti-drill, anti-bump and anti-pick.
Don’t rush into buying a door until you’ve considered all the options. After all, you can’t easily remove it if you change your mind. A sound, well fitted back door will be an asset to your home and keep it secure for years to come.