Far from being a merely functional item, your front door can say a lot about your home, contributing to the style of your exterior and front garden or driveway, and making a statement about the kind of an interior is behind it.
Whether you're choosing a front door for a period home or somewhere more contemporary, our guide assesses all the major front door materials, considering their design appeal, security, and price, to help you make the best choice for your home.
- Browse our front door design ideas
- Find out how to restore your front door
- How to choose the right windows and doors for period homes
Choosing uPVC front doors – the budget option
When uPVC front doors were first introduced, they were a welcome alternative to the traditional timber front door – lower in cost and with greater thermal performance. However, not everybody appreciates the aesthetics of uPVC and the variety of styles and colours can be limited.
Usually 28mm thick, many people feel they are easy to break into, and, although there have been innovations in the uPVC sector, the popularity of the uPVC front door is diminishing.
Approximate starting price: £600
Glass reinforced plastic (GRP) composite – the contemporary material
Composite front doors were introduced to the market around 10 years ago, aimed at homeowners wanting to retain the appearance of a timber door whilst benefiting from modern materials, which require less maintenance and work harder to keep out the draughts. Now they’re a fast-growing option, with sales of composite doors almost doubling year on year.
Usually 44mm thick, GRP doors are the most thermally efficient, but they’re not the most secure. And because colour is normally applied on a white fibreglass skin, GPR doors are prone to scratches. In particular, beware of asking door manufacturers to match any RAL colour, as colour applied in this way is especially at risk of scratching.
Approximate starting price: £900
Veneered timber front doors – the DIY approach
Available off-the-shelf from the large DIY retailers, you can pick up a nice-looking veneered timber door from around £250. You’d need to paint or varnish it before getting started and, once it’s ready, you could either fit it yourself or ask a local builder to do it for you.
A popular option amongst DIYers, the down-sides of this type of door are that you’ll need to maintain this type of door with annual sanding and re-painting or varnishing; you’ll need some high-quality locks to ensure it’s as secure as possible; and, to keep the chill at bay in winter, you might want to invest in a draught excluder as timber doors are not known for their thermal performance.
Timber doors are also susceptible to the changing weather conditions, so you might find a timber door sticking in the frame at certain times of the year.
Approximate starting price: £250
Solid hardwood front door
A bespoke, solid hardwood front door will add a touch of luxury to any home. Ideal for period properties, a solid hardwood front door will be made-to-measure and can be designed to a large extent by the homeowner. The end result is likely to be a high-quality front door that will last for many years – but you’ll need to be willing to look after it in order to protect your investment.
Any paint or varnish will inevitably need to be re-applied as the colour fades or peels away.
And without care and attention, a solid hardwood door may crack, absorb water and eventually rot.
Approximate starting price: £2,000