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Your House  >  Exterior  >  Doors Wednesday, September 17, 2014
 
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Air can leak around doors and heat can be lost through the doors because doors generally have insulation values less than half that of the surrounding walls.

Modern doors generally have higher R-values than older doors. The percentage of heat lost through doors, excluding sliding glass doors, is much lower than that of windows. Most heat losses or gains occur when opening and closing the door. Unless your door is damaged or difficult to seal to the door jamb, it is usually not necessary to replace it.

If you decide to replace your door, modern insulated metal or fiberglass doors may be a better investment than wooden doors. The R-values of most steel- and fiberglass-clad entry doors range from R-5 to R-6. A 1+ inch (3.81 cm) thick door offers better than five times the insulating value of the equivalent solid wood door.

The following table sets out R values for standard doors:

Doors

Wood Hollow Core Flush

2.17

Wood Solid Core Flush 1 3/4"

3.03

Wood Solid Core Flush 2 1/4"

3.70

Wood Panel Door 1 3/4"

1.85

Wood Storm Door 50% Glass

1.25

Metal Storm Door

1.00

Metal Insulated Door - Average

7.00

Metal Insulated Door - 2" Urethane

15.00

Glass doors, especially sliding glass doors, lose heat eight times faster than other types of doors. Even if the glass doors receive plenty of sunlight during the winter, a lot of heat is lost at night. Weatherstripping the door can help reduce air infiltration. The nature of the door's design, however, makes stopping all air leaks (while still being able to use the door) impossible.

When replacing patio doors, keep in mind that French or swinging doors offer a much tighter seal, and are generally more energy efficient than sliding doors. To reduce the possibility of condensation problems, all glass doors should have a "thermal break": an insulator between the layers of glass and the inner and outer parts of the door frame. Doors manufactured with several layers of glazing, low-e coatings, and argon gas between the glass panes are a better investment than plain double glass. Over the long run, the additional cost is paid back many times over in energy savings.

Tight fit and insulation is crucial when it comes to making sure that your door choices perform as best as they possibly can. Regardless of whether you are going for a solid wood door, an aluminum safety door or any of the many other types of exterior doors from which you have to choose from, it has to be insulated. This also includes making sure that the weather stripping between the door and the door jam seals tightly when the door is closed.

 
  
 
 
 Door Tips
 
Caulk your windows and doors
Energy
Take the time to caulk or weather-strip the leaks around your windows and doors, especially prior to winter. Investing $25 for materials and 3 hours can save you $150 a year.
Caulk and weatherstrip prior to adding additional insulation
Energy
If you plan on adding more insulation to your walls or attic, remember to seal all leaks and gaps with caulking and add new weatherstripping where necessary. Patch any foundation cracks with the appropriate material. Leakage can lead to moisture and damage the new insulation.
 
  
 
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