Operable window wall systems allow unlimited widths upwards of 70 feet to more modest openings of 8 feet, the design possibilities can be endless.
When approaching a home, one of the first things that catches the eye is the front door. The roof may have a larger surface area and the siding may anchor the home, but the front door can shine with personality.
“There’s something psychological about that entry point that you want it to feel welcoming; you want it to feel like it’s saying something about you,” says Kate Smith, color expert at Sensational Color. “Having an attractive front door is important to the overall way you’re going to feel about the house.”
By using bold colors, unique wood species, and innovative openings such as operable sidelites, the front door can have a large impact.
Also making a large impact are the other openings of the home: patio doors. With operable wall systems that allow unlimited widths upwards of 70 feet to more modest openings of 8 feet, the possibilities can be endless.
Bold colors enhance curb appeal
Paint is an easy way to change the entire curb appeal of a home, and Smith has seen homeowners look to their front door as a canvas.
Andersen Windows and Doors www.andersenwindows.com
Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors www.jeld-wen.com
Kolbe Windows and Doors www.kolbe-kolbe.com
Marvin Windows and Doors www.marvin.com
Masonite International www.masonite.com
NanaWall Systems www.nanawall.com
Pella Corp. www.pella.com
Ply Gem www.plygem.com
Simpson Door Co. www.simpsondoor.com
Therma-Tru Doors www.thermatru.com
Western Window www.westernwindowsystems.com
“How many things can you do for your home for under $100 that can make a huge change to the exterior?” she says. “Painting the door is one of the quickest, least expensive ways to change the look and freshen up the exterior.”
Often the colors people are selecting are a bit bolder. There is nothing surprising about homeowners who want to add some color to their front doors choosing red. For years, people have loved red doors, but homeowners are getting more adventurous.
“A front door is not a very big plane of color so you can do something that’s bold there and it’s not so frightening,” Smith says. “A color that’s become more popular in recent years is blue.”
Smith finds blue to work universally by complementing the natural browns or grays of exteriors throughout the country, fitting in flawlessly in coastal areas and working with both genders.
“Blues work both masculine and feminine; both men and women like them, so you don’t get a lot of arguments,” Smith says. “But even going a little more into those violets has been more accepted now.”
Elizabeth Souders, director of product management for Jeld-Wen, sees many people choosing a split-finish from the manufacturer in order to get both the bold color and the more traditional hues.
“On one side, the door is coordinating with the stone or the siding on the front of the house or the porch,” Souders says. “On the inside, it’s matching up with wood floors and the trim and what’s going on on the inside.”
Smith says one of the misconceptions about bold colors is that they need to appear somewhere else on the exterior.
“The color doesn’t have to match your shutters. You don’t have to paint your mailbox that color,” she says. “You can have a color that shows up only on your front door. It should go and work into the scheme, but it can be on your front door alone.”
Stains continue to hold a large share of the wood-door market, but some homeowners do choose to paint instead of going for the natural look.
“We have a lot of folks that even though they’re going to paint it and they know you’re not going to be able to see the wood, they want that solid wood construction,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson Door Co.
The wood species providing that solid construction have also changed over the years. For Simpson, the number-one door (by volume) is Douglas fir. Western hemlock is second, and knotty alder and sapele mahogany are third and fourth, according to Loveless.
“I think knotty alder and sapele mahogany are ones that have had more movement in the last couple years,” Loveless says. “Sapele mahogany has moved upward and alder was really hot five years ago, and it’s trending down maybe just a tad.”
Andersen Corp. continues to see requests for its seven standard offers—pine, maple, red oak, Douglas fir, alder, cherry, and mahogany—but some species are gaining more traction than others.
“We’ve seen some increase in mahogany, and we continue to see some strength with cherry as well,” says Stacy Einck, brand public relations manager for Andersen. “I think anything beyond the norm of pine, maple, and oak is growing.”
Jeld-Wen has seen a growing interest in its new custom wood line of doors, where the sky is truly the limit.
“We see all different kinds of requests coming in: different types of wood, even requests for things like bamboo,” Souders says. “We see people putting two different types of wood in the same door—it sounds like it might not go together, but it’s really beautiful.”
The key to whichever wood species a homeowner chooses is performance. High-density, dimensionally stable species paired with tried-and-true components to reinforce the stiles and rails can help a wood door stand up to the elements.
Homeowners are not just using bold colors or unique wood species to make a statement with their doors. They are turning to taller and wider innovative openings for the front and rear of their homes.
“Whether it’s the front door, the patio door, or windows—you name it—when it comes to fenestration, we’re seeing taller and wider,” Souders says. “That is a theme across the board.”
In the front of the home, the trend is toward pairing a couple doors together or adding sidelites to make the whole system have more of an impact.
“The homeowner, or even the remodeler, when selecting what products to use sees a good bang for the buck in making that entry pretty grand,” Loveless says.
It is no longer just one swinging panel for the front door, according to Souders. People are incorporating operating sidelites that open or Dutch doors, so the homeowner can keep the bottom closed for pets to stay inside but then the top can open to let in fresh air.
Unique openings pair with various shapes in many grand entryways.
“Interesting shapes continue to grow,” Einck says. “Some of them are just straight circle tops—so you have a half circle on the top—some have sort of that gothic look, plus we make kind of a French door entry door that’s curved at the top as well.”
The trend toward taller and wider doors has been years in the making, but it has accelerated recently with doors reaching new heights.
“If we go back 20—even 10—years, the standard door was 3-feet wide, 6-feet 8-inches tall,” Souders says. “Now it’s not uncommon to hear 10-feet tall, 3-feet 6-inches wide or even 4-feet wide.”
Homeowners may consider 10-feet-tall and 4-feet-wide front doors monumental in size, but for the back of the home, they are looking to get even larger.
“Since we had the big economic downturn in 2008, people are staying put. People are renovating their homes and making more out of what they already have,” says Matt Thomas, marketing manager for NanaWall Systems. “They’re utilizing the space around their home more intelligently.”
By opening up the home with massive doors or large operable wall systems, homeowners can utilize their patios or decks, providing true indoor-outdoor living.
“We’ve seen a nice acceleration of demand for these larger doors year-after-year,” says Christine Marvin, director of marketing for Marvin Windows and Doors. “It’s almost become a must-have in a lot of projects.”
Thomas notes NanaWall’s operable glass wall systems not only have lifestyle benefits but also health benefits by providing fresh-air ventilation and natural daylight. The glass panels act as a wall when closed to protect the interior from the environment but then open up completely when desired.
From folding systems to sliding systems, manufacturers have found people choosing what provides the most open feel in each application.
“The [style] we see an increase demand for would be the lift and slide, specifically in what we call a pocket configuration, as opposed to stacked,” Marvin says. “All of the panels slide into the wall, so they’re completely hidden and in that sense, you’re truly opening up a wall.”
Manufacturers have noted two common misconceptions about these large doors or operable wall systems. The first is some homeowners believe they really only offer benefits for large homes. Thomas says this is not the case.
“We’re seeing a trend in what we call the “not so wide,” and that’s smaller homes utilizing our systems in something as simple as a three-panel configuration,” he says. “Instead of putting in a slider, which only opens up 4 feet of that opening, with our system you can open up all 8 feet of that opening.”
The second misconception is these systems only have a place in warm, bug-free climates. Andersen sells these systems throughout the country.
“We’ve seen the same type of door used to open up the wall to expose a screened-in porch or multi-season room, so you’ve taken care of the bug problem,” Einck says. “You’re still extending that living space and letting the outdoors in.”
Small and large homes alike have embraced everything from grand entryways in the front of the home to grand exits out to the patio. PR