Whether you’re building or remodeling, the right entry door can add a powerful statement to your home.
Not only can it make a great first impression, but it can also provide security, weather protection, and energy efficiency. It can even increase your home’s value!
If you’ve been shopping around for new entry doors, you’ve probably noticed that two types of doors are popular with buyers at the moment: fiberglass and wood.
While they look similar and fulfil the same function, there are key differences you should know about before you make a purchase.
In this article, we explain what fiberglass and wood doors are and compare their performance across seven categories – durability, security, weather protection, maintenance, energy efficiency, appearance, and price. At the end, we let you know which entry door is best for your needs.
Are you ready to boost the security and curb appeal of your home? Read on to find out more!
Fiberglass Entry Doors
Fiberglass doors are an alternative to wood or aluminum doors. They’re made from a composite of glass fibers and resin (often used in cars, airplanes, and boats), which makes the doors strong, weather-proof, rust-proof, and fire-resistant.
Fiberglass doors have three components: a skin that features high-impact fiberglass, an insulating polyurethane core, and a frame made of composite material (often resembling wood). Most doors are solid, but they can also feature ornate windows or glass panels.
Wood Entry Doors
A wood entry door is an exterior door made from solid mahogany, oak, maple, or other wood, but it can also be made from engineered wood. The latter is created by gluing many sheets of wood together to create a door that’s more stable than a traditional solid wood door.
Most wood doors have a distinctive grain or texture, which can give your home a rustic or old-timey feel.
Because wood was once a living tree, it can be porous and susceptible to moisture, which is why external wood doors are often sealed and stained to ensure their longevity and provide weather protection.
Which is Better: A Fiberglass or Wood Entry Door?
We’ve compared fiberglass and wood entry doors to see how they perform across a range of different categories.
Fiberglass is an artificial material made from layering resin with silicate fibers. This results in an extremely durable surface that won’t warp, shrink, swell or crack.
What’s more, fiberglass is light compared to materials like steel or wood. This means that the door is easy to open and close, and it won’t stress the hinges or doorframe. Not only does this extend the life of your fiberglass door, but it also protects your doorframe.
As for wood doors, while they can be strong and resilient at the start, temperature fluctuations can make them swell or warp, particularly if they’re not sealed or protected by an external door. Wood can also succumb to scratches and cracks, which compromise the effectiveness of the door, resulting in poor insulation or misaligned locks.
All in all, fiberglass doors provide greater durability than wood doors. This means you won’t have to replace them for decades. Wood doors, however, are susceptible to swelling, scratches, and cracks that require sealing, repair or replacement.
Solid construction and insulation make fiberglass doors resistant to breakage. Many come with double- or triple-pane glass and steel reinforcements, which enhance their strength. Also, fiberglass won’t deteriorate over time, which means your home will be secure for years to come.
Due to its solidity and weight, wood can provide excellent security for your home. However, if the wood deteriorates due to weather exposure, it can weaken the structure and allow intruders to break the door or pull it off the hinges.
The best way to avoid this is to buy a thicker door that’s been properly sealed and fitted with high-quality deadlocks. Alternatively, choose an engineered wood that’s stronger and more resistant to weather events and intruders.
When it comes to security, fiberglass has the edge over wood because of its unbreakable construction. But if you prefer a natural look, opt for the resilience of engineered wood.
Because of its silicate and resin structure, fiberglass remains unaffected by temperature changes or moisture. This means that fiberglass doors can withstand snowstorms, heavy rain, hail, and extreme heat.
However, if your front door gets a lot of sunlight, fiberglass can eventually fade. To fix this, refinish the door every few years or use a sunshade to minimise exposure.
Unlike fiberglass, wood is hygroscopic, which means that its moisture content is determined by the amount of humidity in the air. As a result, if there’s rain, heat or cold, an unsealed door can succumb to swelling, shrinkage, warping, and even mold.
This can compromise your door’s ability to keep out the elements and maintain your home’s internal temperature. If you want protection and the elegance of a natural material, you’re better off with an engineered wood door; it’s stronger and less susceptible to these effects.
Overall, fiberglass doors provide the best protection from extreme (or not-so-extreme) weather conditions. However, if your wood door is made from engineered wood, protected by a storm door or covered by a patio, the effects of deterioration can be minimised.
The foam core in fiberglass is a great insulator. Is it any wonder that fiberglass is used in aircraft and boats! The R-value of fiberglass (i.e. the extent to which a material resists the flow of heat energy) is R-5 or R-6, which is pretty high. Some premium doors made in Europe can rank as high as R-11.
On the other hand, the R-value of wood is R-2 or R-3. This is half the value of fiberglass. In general, the higher the value, the greater the heat resistance. This means that fiberglass can keep out heat or prevent heat loss better than wood. As a result, you won’t have to turn on your air conditioner every time the temperature rises, which can save you money in the long run.
Thanks to their durability, fiberglass doors require very little maintenance. All you need to do is wipe the surface to remove dust or debris. If your door gets a lot of sunlight and fades, it can always be refinished.
When it comes to installation, fiberglass is a little tricker than other doors. Fiberglass doors come as a unit and need to be installed by a professional. And like other composites, it can be hard to cut with a regular wood saw, so use a circular saw or jigsaw. Make sure you wear a mask and goggles as the tiny pieces of glass fibers can damage your eyes or lungs.
Wood doors require more maintenance than fiberglass doors. They need a sealant to remain weatherproof, which needs to be reapplied every three to five years. What’s more, wood doors can crack or dent, so they have to be repaired frequently – unless you like a breezy door!
When it comes to installation and cutting wood to size, it’s a relatively easy process. Most wood is easy to cut and you don’t have to worry about toxic fibers getting into your lungs. Having said that, a mask and goggles are always advisable when cutting wood!
Overall, the strength and weather-resistance of fiberglass doors make them the best low-maintenance option for your home. While installation and cutting can be tricky, ongoing maintenance is a cinch.
First-generation fiberglass doors came in limited designs and colors – and they weren’t particularly attractive! But all that has changed. Today, fiberglass doors can imitate the look of natural wood, and only a close inspection will reveal that it isn’t the real thing.
On the other hand, people who love natural materials will prefer the look of wood. Like fiberglass, it can be sealed, painted, and finished. Most homeowners go with a clear finish to set off the knots and textures. Wood doors can also be adapted to your needs with intricate carvings, hardware or glass panels.
In this category, both fiberglass and wood offer attractive options for your home. But if you want a rustic or country-style feel for your home, wood will deliver the authentic look you want. For a more modern feel, fiberglass offers a range of clean and simple designs. Ultimately, the decision depends on the style of your home and your personal taste.
Fiberglass doors can vary in price from $800 to $2500. While they’re not as cheap as other doors, like aluminum, you won’t need to spend money on expensive repairs, re-staining or replacements for at least 20 years.
Wood entry doors cost between $1000 and $5000. This depends on the quality of the door, the size, and additional features, like glass panels or carvings. An unfinished door, though, can cost as little as $500.
Overall, the price of fiberglass is lower than wood, but it depends on factors like size, features, and extras. An unfinished wood panel can cost you half the price of fiberglass – and its installation is relatively straightforward. But if you’re not into DIY, installation, sealing, and ongoing maintenance could negate the value of buying an unfinished wood door.
When you compare fiberglass and wood side by side, it’s clear that fiberglass comes out on top when you consider durability, security, weather resistance, maintenance, and energy efficiency.
The jury is out on appearance as both doors offer attractive and customisable options. Wood provides the most natural look, while fiberglass – even when it imitates wood – doesn’t have the warmth or texture of the original.
The price of both can vary depending on quality and features, but the average fiberglass door will be cheaper than its wood equivalent. However, if you’ve got DIY skills, you could save upfront costs by purchasing an unfinished wood door and doing the sealing and installation yourself.
Ultimately, the choice between fiberglass and wood comes down to aesthetics and budget.
If you love the warmth of wood but want the strength of fiberglass, you might consider an engineered door. It’s more resilient and energy-efficient than solid wood, so you get the best of both worlds.
For those who aren’t fussed about natural materials, fiberglass will deliver on all levels – and provide a pleasing look that will match both classic and contemporary designs.
I hope this article has brought you one step closer to finding the right entry door for your home! To read more product comparisons, check out the articles below or subscribe to our newsletter. Enjoy the rest of your day!