Product Trends: Opening Doors

A larger variety of materials and new styles make entry and patio doors distinct home features.

October 28, 2013

The use of larger sliding and swinging patio doors remains popular, but there has been a spike in the lift and slide and bi-fold doors.

The entryway of a home is often the first thing people encounter when visiting, and the gate to that entryway is the front door. Homeowners today want this door to stand out and make a good first impression.
“In the past, it was OK for everyone to have the same door,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson Door Co. “There was less product variety, less variety in the door types, less variety in paints and stains, less variety in the hardware on the door. Now it’s all over the place, which is great.”
Homeowners are embracing the idea of customizing their front doors to maximize the curb appeal of their homes, according to Rob Garofalo, business manager for Andersen Windows and Doors.
“Instead of going to the big-box shop and buying a really inexpensive door, there’s more thought going into it and people are starting to spend a lot more money on the front of their house,” he says.
Although customization is key, many door manufacturers have seen customers trending toward fiberglass doors with more simplistic styles, smaller lights, and obscure glass for the front of the home and “walls of doors” for the rear.

Advances in fiberglass

Door manufacturers each have unique challenges. Wood doors have the natural look many homeowners desire but have traditionally been known to warp and damage over time. Fiberglass doors, on the other hand, have strong weather-resistant performance but lack natural wood grains.
The industry is trending toward fiberglass over steel and wood, according to Derek Brosterhous, director of product marketing for doors for Jeld-Wen.
Jeld-Wen has launched two new lines of products: the Design-Pro fiberglass doors made to look like wood, and the Smooth-Pro fiberglass doors meant to be painted.
“The real benefit of fiberglass over steel obviously is the dent-resistance,” Brosterhous says. “What we’re hoping is the closer fiberglass gets to mimicking a wood door, the more of that wood-door market share is going to start trending toward fiberglass. It’s a trend that’s happening; it’s just slow.”
In the past, wood doors used to be the only option for people with mid-century modern homes, according to Derek Johnson, director of product management for Therma-Tru Doors. He says these homeowners now can choose fiberglass.
“Fiberglass doors are great. You don’t have the rotting issues. You don’t have the rusting issues. They don’t dent like steel. They are more energy efficient than a wood door,” Johnson says.
As fiberglass doors eat away at the market share, wood door manufacturers also continue to make higher-performing doors.
The team at Simpson Door has found four wood species that perform particularly well in an exterior environment, according to Loveless. Black Locust, Nootka Cypress, Douglas Fir, and Sapele Mahogany are featured in Simpson Door’s new Nantucket Collection. This collection is made with an internal joiner method meant to keep the door together even in tough weather.

Less glass and fewer panels

No matter the door’s material, some manufacturers have seen growing interest in entry doors with fewer panels and smaller lights.
“Simplistic would definitely be a trend that we’re seeing,” Brosterhous says. “Six panels have just dominated the industry interior and exterior for so many years that it’s nice to see some of the new, simplistic, clean lines.”
One of the more popular door styles seeing a recent resurgence is the Craftsman, according to a number of manufacturers.
“With Craftsman doors there’s a level of privacy because it does have that light right at the top of the panel; so it lets the light into the home but yet there’s that privacy feature,” says Emily DeVries, associate product specialist for Pella Corp. “It’s a great blend of both worlds that we really see homeowners liking.”
The smaller lights, however, do not necessarily demonstrate a desire for less natural light in the home.
“Light is always a desirable feature for homeowners,” DeVries says. “If [homeowners] choose to have a solid door, a lot of times they’ll combine that door with sidelights and transoms to get the best of both worlds.”

Privacy with light

Just decreasing the size of glass panels increases privacy, but homeowners are also turning to decorative and obscure glass for this purpose.
“Our privacy glass line really allows people to add that glass, allow light to come in,” Johnson says. “But they’re not giving up that sense of safety and security.”
Therma-Tru launched a line of privacy glass in 2012 and has seen its popularity rise, especially in smaller sizes such as half-lights and ¼ lights on the top of the door instead of full lights, according to Johnson.
A new innovation, electric glass, could make privacy a more desirable option for full lights in the future. Electric glass changes from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch and is already being used in some high-end homes, according to Loveless.


Andersen Windows and Doors
Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors
Kolbe Windows and Doors
Marvin Windows and Doors
Masonite International
NanaWall Systems    
Pella Corp.
Ply Gem
Simpson Door Co.
Therma-Tru Doors
Western Window Systems

“It’s a completely fun thing and obviously some homeowners fall in love [and] got to have it,” he says. “It’s an option for natural light and privacy at the same time.”
Although this glass is catching many people’s eyes, it is not a common choice yet.
“Before it becomes a major residential product, that technology is going have to become a little more competitively priced,” Loveless says.
Decorative glass also remains a privacy option for many homeowners.
“Some type of decorative glass is definitely in a lot of people’s dream doors,” says Phil Wengerd, vice president of market strategies for ProVia. “We do typical decorative glass where we have a stained glass look with caming.”
ProVia, however, also offers what it calls Inspiration Art Glass that uses a hand-coloring technique to create different patterns.
“People enjoy beautiful-looking glass in a door,” Wengerd says. “Still people like a solid door, and they may want to put glass on the side of that.”

Light with a view

As privacy glass seems to be a major product in the front of the home, it is almost nonexistent in the rear. Homeowners are looking to incorporate as much glass as possible for their patio doors.
“You see rain glass, frosted or obscure, on entry doors. You don’t see that with some of these larger doors,” says Christine Marvin, director of marketing for Marvin Windows and Doors. “What you’re seeing is high-performance glass going into these products but not the need to obscure the view to the outside.”
These large, open doors also illustrate a greater trend altogether—outdoor living spaces.
“You really start to see this trend of indoor and outdoor living combining,” Garofalo says. “People want to expand their homes to incorporate that outdoor living area, so having doors that open all the way up—having a whole wall open—is huge.”
These larger doors are also finding a larger market, according to Marvin.
“You’d typically think large doors in contemporary [homes] and there’s definitely a relationship between that type of design and very large, expansive glass,” she says. “But these doors are also used as a feature door even in traditional homes.”
Marvin says she continues to see the use of larger sliding and swinging patio doors, but there has really been a spike in the lift and slide and bi-fold doors.
The sliding doors also have an additional advantage, according to Garofalo.
“In the remodeling world people like the gliding or sliding doors a little more just because they don’t take up any space,” he says. “You just slide the door against itself so you’re not swinging panels into the room or outside [and] you don’t have to worry about furniture or anything like that.”
Homeowners also have options to add privacy to the their patio doors in the rear of the home.
“We have blinds inbetween the panes of glass and that is a very popular option for people who certainly want to be able to let a lot of light in,” Wengerd says. “They want to pull that blind up so there’s no obstructive view, and then they also love the feature of being able to close that at nighttime or whenever to be able to have privacy.”
Whether for the front door or the patio door, homeowners are willing to take risks such as new fiberglass and simplified styles while maintaining what is truly important to them: privacy and a nice view. PR

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