A brief guide to external doors

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What is an external door?

  Exterior doors, or external doors, lead outside from a building or space.  

Exterior or external doors  are any doors which lead to outside spaces. This usually includes areas vulnerable to unauthorised entry or exposure to weather such as garages and porches. External doors need to be thicker, stronger and more durable than interior doors. They also need to be weatherproofed and sealed, so they are protected themselves, and can protect your home. 


External doors can be used to project a positive impression of your home, particularly the front door, as this is usually one of the first things people will notice as they approach your home. A damaged or untidy front door could have a negative impact on how people view your home. External doors can affect the kerb appeal and value of a property. 

  folding sliding doors are sometimes called bi folding doors  

Due to their high importance, if there is a serious problem with an external door then it will need to be replaced as soon as possible. External doors are exposed to the elements and often have to deal with heavy usage, which can make them particularly vulnerable. It also means they are much more expensive than most internal doors and are likely to require more regular maintenance. If an external door will suffer from severe exposure it should have extra protection from a porch or canopy.


What are the different types and styles

of external door?



External doors are usually referred to by names connected to where they will be placed, or what their style is. Because they are generally exposed to the elements, they need to have very different properties to internal doors, which influences how they are made and the materials they are made of. 


External doors should be treated to protect them from the weather
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Entry doors 


The main entrance door in domestic residences is the front door, but many homes will also have a secondary entrance. This is usually called the back door, especially when it is at the back of a building. Sometimes they will be at the side of a building and may be referred to as a side door. 


For more information see: External entry doors

  Your front door is a key feature of your home  

Front doors

The front door to you home can have a substantial influence on how the building is viewed, as it's usually the first thing a visitor will see. Because of this, front doors are available in many different styles and designs, as well as coming with various finishes and in an array of colours.

  Back doors can be just as stylish as front doors if you want them to be  

Back doors

The back entry door, or rear door, is the name usually given to the secondary entry door to your home. This door is not usually as visible as the front door, but can still be an important point in the building in terms of visual appeal, security, and insulation. 

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External French doors

  French doors which lead outside can bring in plenty of light  

External French doors  are typically hinged, double doors which lead outside and have glazed door leaves, although they can also be single leaf doors. They will usually be fully glazed, and often have glazing bars which form a grid pattern across the door's face. 


For more information see: External French doors


Patio doors

  patio doors are typically glass doors which lead to a patio or garden space  

Like French doors, patio doors are glazed, which makes them excellent at bringing light in from outside. They are usually differentiated from French doors by the way they operate; patio doors will usually be either sliding doors or modern folding doors. They will consist of two or more leaves, and can be used in particularly wide doorways.


For more information see: Patio doors


Other external doors


Some other doors in your home should be external grade doors, or at least have enhanced properties compared to standard internal doors, although this may not be initially obvious. Doors which lead to vulnerable areas, in terms of heat loss and security, should be external doors, although these don't usually require the same enhanced properties as doors which need to face the elements directly. 


You will need external grade doors when they lead to a conservatory, or it will be classed as an extension. A porch will need an external door connecting it to your home.


Fire rated doors from XL joinery with walnut veneers and aluminium inlays


For more information see: Fire doors

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When to replace an external door 


Wooden parts of doors or frames can rot or otherwise deteriorate, especially if they are not finished properly and then not regularly maintained. Rotting wood is difficult to repair and you might need to replace certain parts of the door set assembly. If there are parts of an exterior door which won't hold a finish, then any deterioration will be accelerated and it will probably need replacing after a very short amount of time. You should also be aware that certain environments make deterioration quicker - like houses near seafront with moist salty air, and doors that are fully exposed to the elements. Sometimes additional protection, such as awnings or porches is recommended.



Wear can make the joints of doors come loose; sometimes this can't be fixed and the whole door assembly may need replacing. The seals around a door can also be worn over time, which can have a dramatic effect on its insulation properties. Sometimes just the seals can be replaced while other times it may work out more economical to replace the door.   

  stylish front doors with enhanced performance.  

You might also want to replace a door just because it is old. Tastes change and a new door can give your home a brand new look. With a huge variety of door types and styles available, you should be able to find a door which has the right look for you. Technology also changes; modern doors will have enhanced features and capabilities that older doors didn't have, such as added security and insulation properties.   


If you do need to replace an exterior door you will not usually require planning permission but you will need to ensure it complies with Building Regulations. The Building Regulations for external doors take into consideration thermal heat loss, ventilation, security, access, and fire safety. 

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