Your front entry makes a statement, home designers have said for years. Given that, when it comes time to attending to your home’s spring spruce-up, your front entry should be a priority.

The most obvious options are to stain and paint, but what other things can you do to make your front entry shine? 

STAIRS

You certainly can replace your front steps, but if your steps are doing just fine, you might want to consider replacing just the rail system, says Harland Storey, general manager of Hancock Lumber in Yarmouth. Some manufacturers make rail systems that look like wood but don’t require the maintenance of wood.

“The deck you don’t really see unless you go up to the house, but the rail system you do see, so having a nice rail system on the entryway and down the steps, I think, really helps dress up (a house),” Storey says.

If you replace your front stairs, there are a host of products from which you can choose. Composites offer limited maintenance over the long haul, but are more expensive than cedar, which is, says Storey, “the least expensive nice option.” Using composites instead of wood will double your costs, but using composites cuts out the additional expense of finishing products, like paints or stains, on a wood project. 

FRONT DOORS

Your options for replacing your front door are mind-boggling, so do some research online before heading out to the marketplace, suggests David Troutman, inside salesperson at Loranger Door and Window in South Portland.

It used to be that Maine was a hardcore wood door market, he says, but innovations in the non-wood door market — mainly fiberglass doors — have changed things. Fiberglass, he says, offers homeowners paint and stain options. The doors that are stainable are grained, so that from a distance they look like wood doors. Fiberglass doors, Troutman says, are five times more energy efficient than wood doors, and they don’t dent or rust.

Front doors can run from $275 to the sky’s the limit. Troutman says Loranger’s market is usually in the $300 to $400 range. Installation costs range from $350 to $500 plus materials.

“You could conceivably get a whole new entryway done for right around $2,000,” he says. “I consider that a really, really good price to upgrade.”

For most customers, says Troutman, it comes down to aesthetics when selecting a door. “It’s all about ‘What do you want to see?’ What is your aesthetic? You have a ranch house — do you really want to put a craftsman-style door on it?” he says.

Loranger Door offers its customers a powerful tool to help with door selection. Door manufacturer Therma-Tru has a software program the store uses which allows customers to see how different doors will look as part of their front entryway. Customers take a good quality photo of their current front entryway and send it to the store, where sales staff can then digitally plunk in the doors they like.

“It’s proven to be a great tool for the customer to see what that door looks like in their entry before they make a decision,” he says. 

SCREEN/STORM DOORS

Screen doors offer homeowners a lot of value. There are aesthetics and energy efficiency, but what they really offer is nostalgia, says John Otterbein, owner of Wooden Screen Door Co. in Waldoboro.

Some years ago, he was working in the office when he heard a repeated slamming coming from the showroom. He went to investigate and found a woman opening and closing, opening and closing, opening and closing a screen door. She told him, “Oh, this reminds me of my grandmother’s house.”

“I thought, ‘Wow. There’s nostalgia in this,’ ” he says. “People have these memories of screen doors.” He says he can tell when his neighbors are leaving for work in the morning and returning home in the evening by listening to the sound of their screen doors.

Wooden Screen Door specializes in custom screen doors. Customers are interviewed so that their door is made to really suit them and their home.

One important thing to know before a door is made is whether the homeowners have pets.

“It seems like our whole business is designed around dogs and pets because they scratch to come in and scratch to come out,” which can cause a lot of damage, says Otterbein. In order to minimize pet damage to screens, the doors can be made so that screens are on top and glass is on the bottom. “If you prevent them from looking out, then the paws go up.”

Wooden Screen Door’s doors range from $400 to $995. Turnaround time depends on the time of year. In the middle of the summer, your customized door may take a couple of months.

If you already have a wooden screen door but it is not in the best shape, it still could be salvaged, says Otterbein.

For peeling doors, scrape and sand them, then add some primer and paint.

For sagging doors, the culprit could be your casing, which is the frame holding your door. You’ll want to take the door off and plane it. Then take a good look at your door’s casing. If your door has sagged, it’s pulled on the casing, so to strengthen the casing, add some finishing nails so that the casing is held stationary to the side of the house. That should keep the casing from moving. Keeping the casing stationary should also prevent your screen door from sticking when the wood of the casing expands as temperatures change. Also, he says, makes sure the casing is painted well to prevent moisture and rot.

If a custom wooden screen door is not what you’re looking for, you can get screen doors made out of aluminum, for instance, ranging in price from $100 to $800, from stores like Loranger or Hancock Lumber. These doors offer a range of options, including retractable screens, energy efficiency and a variety of colors.

Stephanie Bouchard is a freelance writer who lives in Bath.

 


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