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Home Inspection – Assessing Main Door And Points Of Entry
The main entry door to a house deserves a lot of your attention.
Not only is it the most used door in the house, it is also the one that is subjected to the most abuse from usage and the pummeling it receives from the weather.
Doors that has one side facing the exterior of a house must withstand unpredictable changes in temperature and moisture levels. This makes durability and sturdiness key elements to possess.
Firstly, there must be a basic protection for the door in the form of eaves or a porch roof. Apartments housed in buildings might already have this. But for landed houses, an overhang is an important feature to have if you want to protect the main front entry door.
As the critical factors for exterior doors is it’s durability, 3 types of materials have become commonly used for homes.
And as with almost everything, usually the better ones will be more expensive too. But if you look at it this way, if you get a cheap door that does not protect the house from the elements, it is going to cost you more in maintenance over the long run.
Once the material base of the main door is determined, it is time to weigh the pros and cons to see if it’s appropriate for that particular house.
Don’t be misled by the name fiberglass doors. These types of doors basically consist of a layer of fiberglass applied over wood. The core is usually made up of foam insulation.
But while this mixing and matching of material can seem too fancy for your liking, fiberglass doors offers the best value for your money.
The best part of it is that you can paint over it with a wood finish and be unable to distinguish it from a wooden door.
What’s more, it has an energy efficiency rating of R-8 and higher.
While wooden doors are understandably the least durable, there’s a reason they have been used for homes for as long as you can remember.
And that is the amount of design customization that can be put into it.
Wood doors of high exceptional quality contains a lot under the hood that the regular homeowner will not know of.
This includes a flurry of traditional woodworking joints to bind different parts together and expert frame construction.
And to minimize warping which is a common problem for wood fixtures, panel doors these days are made of hybrid wooden cores to tackle the issue.
The surface finish applied to wood doors is essential to it’s durability. It won’t take long for a wood door to rot without any protection. In this case, a good finish should at least have a certain degree of UV protection too.
Because of wood’s vulnerability to water, look out for edges that are do not have finished applied properly. An exposed corner alone can cause a domino effect on the whole door.
Steel doors are relatively cheap but very practical.
They are durable, energy efficient and require little maintenance.
The issue here is weather it has any huge negative impact on the aesthetics of the house.
Other than the obvious aesthetic defects that are usually easy to spot on doors like chips, scratches, and dents, there are some other areas for concern for homeowners.
Because there are obviously going to be gaps between the door frame or trim and the door itself, water can enter the house from these gaps if left unattended to.
Flashing is material installed to these gaps to prevent water entry while not interrupting the smooth function of a door.
And because applying flashing can be a meticulous tasks undertaken towards the end of the remodeling project, contractors are often not as sharp as they were while doing other more significant tasks.
This can lead to bad workmanship that does not seal well or ugly looking flashing.
If you are taking over an older house, it is common to find gaps developing between the door and the door trim due to shrinkage. In the event of this, you have to assess whether you can easily rectify the issue with caulk.
Door sweeps are getting very popular these days. They:
- prevent dirt to enter from below
- prevent pests from entering the house
- prevent air from escaping a house when the air-conditioner is on
Granted. A sweep might not be able to fully prevent water from flowing in, but it must at least do a good job of resisting.
There are 2 popular types of door sweeps.
- Those with soft bristles that look like the head of a broom
- Those with a hard body… sometimes as hard as plastic
The first type can be prone to have pests entangled in it. It also tends to trap all kinds of dirt. So there is a requirement to clean it every once in a while.
The second type can cause scratches on the floor if not installed properly. And if installed properly, it can still loosen in time and cause scratches.
Thresholds serve the function of sealing the door sill. Again, this is to prevent elements from the outside from intruding into the house.
If you find that a sill is damaged, the best remedy is to replace it with a sill-threshold combination device.
It goes without saying that the bigger the door, the bigger the hinges. It is only appropriate for hinges to match the weight and width of a door.
Since main doors are usually larger and more powerful than interior doors, you should expect hinges to be stronger.
Typical sizes for exterior doors are between 4 to 5 inches. Some even come with ball-bearings affixed for extra strength. You contractor should be praised if they installed premium hinges without you asking.
In certain unique cases, you might require adjustable hinges. But don’t worry if you have no idea whether you need them or not. Because if you do, it will usually be because you have run into a situation that requires them.
Remember to test every key to ensure they work.