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Ornamental Iron Doors - Your next home remodeling project...

Updated on January 10, 2016

Its Time for a Remodel

No matter its size, your home is your castle; and for most, the greatest asset you own. Protecting and preserving your asset requires a great deal of work and expense. As a home ages, its exterior becomes a victim to the elements. Sun, rain, wind, heat and cold all wreak havoc on components such as the roof, exterior paint, windows, doors and landscape. Shingles discolor or disappear, paint starts to chip and peel, windows and doors begin to crack and leak, plants do not survive the winter, etc...

When the need or desire arises to repair, renovate or simply update your home, there are many questions to consider. “What project cannot absolutely wait another season? What home project will fit in within our budget? What kind of disruption to my daily life will be experienced during the repair/renovation? What project will create the biggest impact to my home?”

For a majority of homes, the front door area is the central focus. A fatigued front door can distress the entire look of the house. Wood doors, while beautiful when new, simply do not handle the elements. Within a few months, new wood doors begin to fade. A few years of exposure causes polyurethane finishes on the wood doors to deteriorate and peel. If the polyurethane finish is not maintained, the door will begin to splinter and crack letting in light and moisture. Once a wood door has reached this level of failure, there is little that can be done to restore it. Annual sanding and refinishing can prolong a wood door’s life but, inevitably, the wood door must be replaced. There are many options when it comes to replacing your front door. There is, of course, a new wood door that will just have the same issues as its predecessor. Fiberglass and steel doors are an option but often lack the beauty and distinction of a new wood door.

Over the last ten years, ornamental iron doors have become a very popular front door replacement option due to their durability and lasting beauty. Several characteristics of these doors make them a superior choice to their wood or fiberglass counterparts.

This is the happiest we have been with any home improvement project!! The doors are an absolute work-of-art and the investment was small relative to the incredible impact that the finished product has made to our house.

— B. Frasch, Philadelphia, PA

Door Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
5'x8' double door, Eskridge style with straight top and Emtek Imperial handles3' x 8' single door, Cathedral style with straight top and Emtek Greely handle5'x8' double door, Douglas style with straight top and Emtek Imperial handles5'x8' double door, Divided Light style with Eyebrow arched top and Emtek Octagon handles5'x8' double door, Tuscany style with Eyebrow arched top and Emtek Imperial handles6'x9' double door, McKnight style with Full radius arched top and Emtek Imperial handles
5'x8' double door, Eskridge style with straight top and Emtek Imperial handles
5'x8' double door, Eskridge style with straight top and Emtek Imperial handles | Source
3' x 8' single door, Cathedral style with straight top and Emtek Greely handle
3' x 8' single door, Cathedral style with straight top and Emtek Greely handle | Source
5'x8' double door, Douglas style with straight top and Emtek Imperial handles
5'x8' double door, Douglas style with straight top and Emtek Imperial handles | Source
5'x8' double door, Divided Light style with Eyebrow arched top and Emtek Octagon handles
5'x8' double door, Divided Light style with Eyebrow arched top and Emtek Octagon handles | Source
5'x8' double door, Tuscany style with Eyebrow arched top and Emtek Imperial handles
5'x8' double door, Tuscany style with Eyebrow arched top and Emtek Imperial handles | Source
6'x9' double door, McKnight style with Full radius arched top and Emtek Imperial handles
6'x9' double door, McKnight style with Full radius arched top and Emtek Imperial handles | Source

Materials that last...

The Construction

Ornamental iron doors and jambs are constructed with high-strength carbon steel. Some aluminum components may also be present such as the threshold and sweeps. The bottom line is that all the weakness of a wood door is being replaced with all of the strength of steel. The glass panels are hinged which allow them to be opened for cleaning or air flow.

The Finish

The finish will resist the elements far better than the finish of a wood door. Since ornamental iron doors are steel, the finishing process is somewhat involved and usually incorporates a multi step process including one or more baking cycles that cure the finish. One such process that is popular in the coating of steel is powder coating. During the powder coating process, the doors are cleaned thoroughly with industrial degreaser, chemically treated with an iron phosphate (which etches the substrate giving the coating something to stick to), primed with an epoxy hybrid and top coated with a u.v.- stable polyester. The door is then baked to cure the powder and provide a very durable finish. Finally, a faux finish can be applied to the door.

The Design

When people begin to shop for ornamental iron doors, they find their options are vast. Patterns, colors, glass and handles are some of the main features that shoppers find that can be customized. The buying experience is usually more personalized as each door is tailored to the customer and their homes.

So what makes an ornamental iron door installation a top choice when it comes to deciding which home improvement project to tackle? When compared to other home improvements, the replacement of an aging wood door with and ornamental iron door is relatively affordable. Many factors determine the final cost such as door size, shape, glass choice and handle selection. The project’s duration is also attractive to most homeowners. An ornamental iron door can generally be installed in one day. The disruption to the homeowner is almost non-existent and gratification is instant. The impact an ornamental iron door can make to your home can be dramatic. Something as simple as replacing your front door can give your home a whole new fresh look.

Before & Afters

Ornamental Iron Doors 101- What to know before you buy.

Deciding on doing an ornamental iron door project is the easy part. Finding the right supplier can be the hard part but it doesn’t have to be. With a little research and due diligence you should be able to find a reputable dealer. Google “iron door” and you will find that there are hundreds of suppliers in the country with prices covering a broad spectrum. If you know what to look for, you can quickly narrow down your search.

Questions to ask…

  1. Where does the door come from? Most ornamental iron doors you find will be imported from Mexico or China. Imported doors are not necessarily a bad quality product. There are many reputable resellers that sell and support quality imported products. Be wary of resellers that are vague of where their doors come from. If they are confident of their imports, they will let you know that they are such. Search carefully and you will find manufactures of these products do exist in the U.S. Doors made in the U.S. are generally of higher quality and carry a higher price tag.
  2. What is the finish of the door? As mentioned earlier, there are various ways in which doors can be finished. A baked-on finish is generally the most durable, lasting finish. In addition to the baked on finish, doors usually have a faux finish on top that mimic oil-rubbed bronze or pewter. Not all faux finishes are the same. Examine the finish and go with one that you like best. Some ornamental iron doors have a faux finish that is blotchy and uneven as if applied by sponge. Look for doors that have a smoother and more even finish.
  3. What handle-sets are supplied with the door? Again, some research is warranted here. Some dealers sell doors with pull handles and dead bolts only. Do not buy one of these doors. They are only truly closed if they are locked. You buy an expensive front door just to have some ill-conceived latching option. Make sure the door you are considering is bored and back-set for standard hardware. Look for dealers that represent brands such as Emtek, Kwik-set, Weslock, etc… You may find out in your search for ornamental iron doors that some dealers do not include handle-sets in the cost of their doors. That is ok. Just make sure that you know that when you are buying. If the dealer does not supply handle-sets, you can buy them from almost any hardware supplier. Ask the dealer the back-set, bore distances and door thickness and you should have the information you need to purchase your own hardware.
  4. What is the cost of the door? This should be the first question, right? The saying “you get what you pay for” is very applicable to the ornamental iron door industry. If you are serious about a quality product, do not focus entirely on price. Cheaply made doors can leak due to poor weather-stripping and faulty construction. A 5'x8' double door uninstalled should range from $5,000 - $7,000 plus shipping. You should expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for installation. Double doors are available for less than $5,000 but the buyer must beware of what they may be giving up. Less expensive doors may not have handles or may not be set up to accept traditional handles. (See above about handle-sets)
  5. How knowledgeable is the dealer? Representing a line of ornamental iron doors does not require expertise. Given their popularity, iron doors are becoming more available from a wider spectrum of retailers. It is best that you choose a dealer who specializes in the field. Ask your dealer some simple questions to assess their knowledge and you should quickly find out if whom you are dealing with is legitimate. In addition to the questions above, ask them how long they have been in business, what is their warranty and how do they handle service issues? If you are able to locate a U.S. based manufacturer, you will be assured that their knowledge will be the strongest.

Your next remodel

What is your next home remodeling project?

See results

New construction? Start off with quality materials.

While ornamental iron doors have proven to be a strong choice when it comes to replacing old doors, many people are getting ahead of the game. Ornamental iron doors are being used more and more in new construction. Starting off with a product that will last a lifetime will allow the homeowner to have one less thing to worry about as their home ages. Whether installing these doors in the construction phase or as a retrofit, you can be assured that they will offer life long durability and beauty to your home, your castle.

© 2015 Aneel Siddiqui

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