Open the Door
authors Kacey Larsen
According to the 2017 National Association of Realtors (NAR) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Remodeling Impact Report, the cost-and-value analysis of a new steel front door resulted in 75 percent of value recovered from the project. From a consumer’s perspective, such a project results in a Joy Score of 10. [Homeownership site HouseLogic.com surveyed 2,287 consumers about their most recent remodeling project, and a Joy Score combines the share who were happy with those who were satisfied when seeing their completed project. It divides the share by 10 for a ranking between 1 and 10.] Similarly, a new fiberglass front door also achieved a Joy Score of 10, while attaining 67 percent value recovered from the project. The takeaway is a new entry door can deliver happiness from a homeowner perspective, as well as be a worthwhile investment for the home.
And while the Remodeling Impact Report looked specifically at steel and fiberglass entry doors, wood doors also have a place in the conversation. Top of mind for door manufacturers is the continuing interest from consumers to make a statement with the entry door—whether through larger sizes, customizable solutions, decorative glass, and/or a finish or color selection. In addition to staying on top of such trends, manufacturers are also tasked with ensuring their door offerings perform as far as energy efficiency, security and durability within any climate or building code. It’s a tall task, and several door manufacturers share a few insights into their market strategies as well as what may be coming.
During the design and selection process, many homeowners today look to social media for ideas and inspiration they can apply to their own projects. Knowing this, several door manufacturers note this accessibility to products and imagery worldwide via platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz, may be a driving factor behind the interest in seeking customized entry doors. “With the prevalence of home design TV shows and social media networks like Pinterest and Instagram that inspire homeowners to create a home that fits their personal style, homeowners are more design-savvy and creatively invested in their homes than ever before. Further, with the rise of technology, consumers have access to personalized information and products at their fingertips, literally, at all times,” says Kyle Rhine, brand public relations and advertising specialist for Therma-Tru. “As a result, remodelers are being asked to become more involved in style selection and customization. For manufacturers, this means providing product that can be tailored to the homeowner’s vision, and offering tools and resources that help homeowners and building professionals collaborate on designing the entry door that fits the style and function they seek.”
To help on the “journey from inspiration to customization to visualization,” Rhine adds, Therma-Tru provides resources such as its Architectural Home Styles Guide, Design Your Door tool and DoorWays App. In addition, the company translated some of its in-depth market research into Expressions 2018, three key design trends that offer inspiration to homeowners for their entryway. The three trends identified for 2018 are Casual Comfort, Bold Statements and Renewed Classics.
Masonite, together with global trends forecasting agency Stylus, similarly identified and previewed six 2019 Design Trends, which then are translated by “connecting doors to design.” The six trends are Live/Work, Rustic Luxury, Nordic Noir, Urban Country, Pretty + Calm and Mediterranean Escape. Lorena Morales, the creative, visual and content marketing director for Masonite, notes there are door trends that navigate within many of the identified trends. “What we’ve seen thrive is a transitional door that you can utilize from the inside to the outside. The common thread that we see with this trend is versatility, the trend is uniqueness [and] the trend is products that are going to last,” she says. “VistaGrande, Livingston, Heritage—our products, the way they are constructed and designed, have that thinking in mind. We don’t want to have to change doors all the time, and we know that consumers don’t really do that so we want to offer a door solution that looks good, performs well for a long time and is going to be a reflection of the style.”
Andersen offers a suite of entry door options, explains Senior Business Manager Rob Garofalo, including the Architectural Collection entry doors, Heritage, MultiGlide doors that feature automation options, as well as Weiland lift-and-slide and pivot doors. Amongst these offerings, an interest in darker colors—like black, dark bronze and navy—emerge. “Contemporary design continues to rise in popularity across the country, featuring more narrow trim, clean lines and darker finishes,” Garofalo says. “Homeowners increasingly want to bring the outdoors in with more light filtering from their windows and doors. Adding glass panels or transoms on either side of the door allows more light into the home without having to increase the actual door size or opt for a double door. In the same vein, homeowners are making larger statements with their entry doors and see their front entrance as a design opportunity. Entrances are not only getting wider with the use of double or French doors but taller as well, adding a luxurious feel to the front of the home.”
The Weiland pivot door, with panel sizes up to 9 by 11 feet, has grown in popularity, he adds. Because of the door’s ability to rotate on a pivot box and swing in or out (or both), it offers flexibility in function and design.
Dan Jacobs, director of product line management for Jeld-Wen’s entry door business, points to clean lines as a trend, which he is seeing resonate with the company’s Craftsman style collection. “What I mean by clean lines [is] we haven’t switched all the way to modern. We do have what we call the Studio Collection, which really answers the modern kind of demand,” he says. “What is growing at tremendous rates is our Craftsman style collection, where you don’t have sticking and it’s a flat panel, [so] it’s a lot cleaner in look.
“Fiberglass is a big deal for us right now,” Jacobs continues. “It’s been out on the market for a long time; the technology has gotten better and better over the years. And I think from a builder, architect and consumer standpoint, they are starting to get used to fiberglass, so we’re definitely seeing growth in that product that’s a little bit faster than the rest of our growth. That being said, steel is still very important to us and is growing, but fiberglass is just growing at a faster rate.”
Jacobs notes that Jeld-Wen has four fiberglass product lines, starting with its Smooth Pro line, Design Pro, Architectural fiberglass line and IWP or Aurora fiberglass. These offerings allow the company to offer entry doors at every price point.
Obviously, price point is often a driving factor when it comes to purchasing, but Nicole Willits, associate product manager for Pella’s entry door category, sees the conversation often starting with aesthetics or performance. “We have a broad offering, and we need to establish a few things from the get-go. It’s asking the consumer, ‘What do you not like about your door?’ It’s usually one of two things: It’s usually aesthetic, and you take them down the path of, ‘Are you happy with your style?’ If their conversation is, ‘Security is important to me, and I don’t feel like my door is secure,’ or ‘I can see light around my entire [door] perimeter, so what do I do now?’ that’s a different conversation. But both have pathways for us to really get down to the brass tacks of what Pella is able to provide.
“We talk about safety, we talk about security and everything element outside, so really interesting ways of thinking through how those pieces impact parts of the purchase decision,” Willits continues. “We have research that tells us 76 percent of the time consumers say safety is on their mind when it comes to their homes, and for us that in turn influences how we’re working on products—whether it be different locking features, upgrading lock details [or] Insynctive.”
The Insynctive feature is integrated directly into an entry door, as well as windows, and offers the peace-of-mind knowing whether a door is open or closed and locked or unlocked. Willits says a goal was to ensure Insynctive does not disturb the aesthetics of the door overall, so the sensor is placed above a lock block and Pella routes it directly into the door during the manufacturing process. An Insynctive app also recently launched.
Wes Ley, ProVia product manager for entry and storm doors, makes a similar observation regarding the growth of the company’s fiberglass business. The company offers three fiberglass door series (Embarq, Signet and Heritage); however, its Legacy Steel entry door remains popular. “Over the last three, four, five years, fiberglass is on the uptick; but when you look at it compared to our overall shares, you’re still probably about 85 percent steel [and] 15 percent fiberglass,” he explains. “People are looking to protect their families and trying to get through a door with 20-gauge steel security is a difficult thing to do. The other thing it’s not just your typical six-panel steel doors anymore. You can get decorative glass, you can get textured steel that stains somewhat realistic to a wood door [so] you can have the look of wood but the durability, strength and security of steel.”
While steel and fiberglass doors may achieve a wood look, Simpson Door Company manufactures doors made out of wood (a small part of their business is also doors made out of MDF). Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager, notes that the company’s introduction of technologies, such as its Water Barrier Technology and the Nantucket Collection, make it so that a wood exterior door can be used in any setting. “I think it’s important for a remodeler to know you don’t have to sacrifice the look you want to get the performance you want. There’s no such thing anymore. I think there may have been some misconception in the past of ‘Well, I don’t have an overhang; [a door] is going to get big-time weather so I guess I can’t get exactly the look I want.’ And that’s just not the case anymore. You can get something that looks beautiful, that’s going to perform, and get it in the exact size and spec that you want,” he says. “If people want to personalize their door, it has to be a wood door.”
Because custom doors are such a big part of Simpson Door Company’s business—Loveless notes a flip from more than 50 percent of its sales being from inventory stock with distributors to now being driven by custom orders—the company is uniquely positioned to observe and react to trends. “We can build anything, so really we have our own trends lab, if you will, built into our business. That becomes our pipeline of product development ideas typically,” he says. “We are a wood-door manufacturer, and I think when people think wood they think traditional, but that hasn’t been the case design-wise lately. What we’re being asked to make is really contemporary, and so a lot of the design product development efforts are revolving around that.”
Another trend Loveless sees is homeowners’ interest in different types of woods for their entry door, such as alder, ash and zebra wood. He also notes that expansive doors as well as those with a unique shape, like an arched top, continue to be popular for the company. Simpson Door Company offers its DoorMagination visualizer tool to help with the design process and have a visual of how a door would look on the front of a user’s home. Loveless also recommends connecting with an authorized dealer who will have displays, product samples and, in many cases, design centers or showrooms in addition to being able to offer assistance at any point in the process.
To further round out Masonite’s entry door offerings, the company is launching a wood exterior door line. An acquisition six or seven years ago allowed the company to offer wood interior doors, but Paul Anderson, senior director of product marketing for exterior doors and glass, explains that the company took the opportunity to ensure this wood entry door is designed right. “We’ve designed [the door] in a way that we’re essentially sealing the glass, glass to wood, panel to wood, factory-sealed every time. So we’re bringing that [sealing process] in-house to make sure that we’re solving that problem every time,” he says. “If a person wants [a real wood door], they’re going to go get the real thing, and for us that’s what we were missing.”
Anderson notes the company is evaluating entry doors going bigger, taller and wider, and that is a potential area of interest for Masonite in the future. The use of glass in doors is an area, especially for personalization, ranging from the size of the glass to the type of the glass as well as details like having grids. Things like SDL bars and the company’s warm edge spacer may not seem important upfront when selecting the door, Morales adds, but ultimately make a difference when it comes to the door’s performance. “I think that people are wanting to make doors look like windows. They are wanting to bring the outdoors in,” she says. “And that’s when a Warm Glass Edge Spacer, how the door is made, matters. They’re like, ‘I invested in this product I want to see the view or what my children are doing in the pool or whatever.’ Then it becomes important.”
Jeld-Wen’s Jacobs echoes the heightened interest in glass within entry doors and notes the company will soon be introducing some new glass solutions. “The majority of our products are sold with glass or some amount of glass. We’ve seen trends away from standard decorative glass, [and] now we’re thinking of it more geometric and simple designs,” he says. “It’s a focus on glass, on finishing, on clean lines, and really the demands that are happening on the fiberglass front. Our concentration right now is making sure we’re on trend in terms of finishes, in terms of colors, in terms of glass, and then the big thing that we are doing is to bring the whole system together. So something we’re working on in coordination with our distributors is to have a branded system that drives performance throughout the entire product.”
While homeowners will likely have different priorities when selecting an entry door—Therma-Tru’s Rhine says personal style, curb appeal, quality and durability, security and privacy, and door system tend to be top factors—it’s a balancing act for manufacturers to ensure their product offerings check all those boxes. “Bottom line: It’s about giving the homeowner control to find the style, design and features that match their personal desire,” he adds. “Therma-Tru’s ongoing research informs us that more and more homeowners are seeking glass options that allow natural elements of the outdoors to remain visible from inside the home, yet also provide a level of privacy. [Our] vast selection of style and door configuration options, as well as decorative or privacy glass options, lets the homeowner choose the amount of light they desire.
“The demand for larger doors aligns with the desire for more dramatic entryways that enhance a home’s curb appeal,” Rhine continues. “A larger door makes a statement while still allowing for simplistic and flexible designs to complement other aspects of the home. A good example of this is our new Classic-Craft American Style Collection Shaker-style doors, which offer a simple yet sophisticated look that draws attention and complements a wide variety of architectural styles and elements.”
A door is the centerpiece of a home, according to ProVia’s Levy, and the statement of late is to differentiate it from others. To help with that, ProVia introduced glaze finishes that deliver a rustic, aged look as well as several bright color options, like reds and yellows, that have been on the uptick. He echoes sentiments that web and visualizer tools (the company offers an iPad app) help with giving homeowners confidence in their purchasing decisions.
“I guess it seems like the market is kind of starting to cater itself to us—to where people are looking for customization and different things—and that’s where we’ve been over the last 20 to 30 years,” Levy says. “I think the biggest thing to drive home is that we’re building the doors to fit the openings versus having the opening fit the doors. Instead of you just buying a 34-inch door and adjusting the opening to make it work and spending more time and materials to make it fit the door, we can customize the doors on 1/8-inch increments inside, outside, skin, colors [and] glass. So basically, you order that door, and you order not just the door but an entry door system that’s going to fit into that opening for the most part, and save you a lot of time and money out in the field.” |QR