Choosing the right material and wood for your exterior door is crucial in ensuring that it's secure, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. This decision can be particularly challenging in South Africa, where the climate, security concerns, and budget all need to be considered. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the best materials and woods for exterior doors, such as Meranti, Okoume, Oak, steel, fibreglass and PVC. We'll also compare the benefits and drawbacks of different materials and offer some tips to help you choose the ideal option for your home. Whether you prioritize security, durability, aesthetics, or budget, we are here to help you make an informed decision.
The Best Materials for Exterior Doors
The ideal material for your exterior door is one that is durable, secure, and aesthetically pleasing. Here are some popular materials to consider for your exterior door:
Wood: Wood is the traditional choice for exterior doors and remains a popular option for homeowners. Various species of wood can be used for exterior doors, each with unique characteristics. Meranti, Okoume, and Oak are hardwoods that are commonly used for exterior doors in South Africa. These woods are known for their strength, durability, and resistance to rot and decay. Pine is a commonly used softwood often used in construction - but softwoods are often unsuitable for South Africa’s climate.
Steel: Steel doors are a popular option for those looking for a secure and robust door. They are one of the strongest materials around, making them ideal for areas where crime is a concern. While they can be lower maintenance than wooden doors, they still need care to avoid rust and corrosion setting in over time.
Fibreglass: Fibreglass doors are an excellent option for those looking for a strong and low-maintenance exterior door. They are extremely durable, despite feeling lighter than wood or steel, and will never rust, rot or warp making them particularly suitable for humid climates.
The Best Woods for Exterior Doors
When it comes to choosing the best wood for your exterior door, it's essential to find a balance between strength, resistance to weather conditions, and aesthetics.
Hardwoods such as Meranti, Okoume, and Oak are excellent options for exterior doors in South Africa. Meranti, for example, is a durable and strong hardwood that can withstand harsh weather conditions and resist rot, decay, and insect damage. Okoume is another hardwood that's known for its stability and uniform texture, making it easy to work with. Oak is a popular choice for exterior doors because of its strength and resistance to moisture and pests, however, it tends to be prohibitively expensive in South Africa. These woods may be more expensive than softwoods like pine, but they offer greater durability and longevity, making them a better long-term investment for your home.
Pine is a common softwood used in construction, but it’s typically not suited to South Africa’s climate. Pine can be susceptible to rot, decay and infestation, especially in places like South Africa where the weather tends to be hot, humid and rainy. If you like the look of pine and you still want to use it, you can increase its durability and weather resistance by using treated pine. This can be either pressure-treated pine, pine that has been treated with pressure and chemicals to increase its durability, or treated pine which was just chemically treated.
Hollow core wood doors have exploded in popularity in recent years, but they are completely unsuitable for exterior use as intruders could easily break through them.
Steel vs. Wood Exterior Doors
Steel and wood are two of the most popular materials for exterior doors. Here's a comparison of the two:
Security: Steel doors are more secure than wood doors. They're incredibly durable and difficult to break through, making them ideal for high-risk areas. Wood doors are still secure, but they're more vulnerable to forced entry. Wood can often be reinforced with steel bars to combat this.
Aesthetics: Wood doors tend to be more aesthetically pleasing than steel doors. They offer a traditional look and feel and can be stained or painted to match the home's exterior. Steel doors can be painted, but they do not offer anywhere near the breadth of styles wood can offer.
Maintenance: Steel doors require less maintenance than wood doors. They're more durable and resistant to weather and pests. Wood doors require regular maintenance, such as staining or painting to protect them from the elements.
Fibreglass vs. Wood Exterior Doors
Fibreglass and wood are both popular materials for exterior doors. Here's how they compare:
Durability: Fiberglass doors are incredibly durable and resistant to weather and pests. They do not warp or rot like wood doors, making them an excellent option for South Africa's climate. Wood doors can also be incredibly strong and durable, but they require regular maintenance to protect them from the elements.
Aesthetics: Wood doors are more aesthetically pleasing than fibreglass doors. They offer a traditional look and feel and can be stained or painted to match the home's exterior. Fibreglass doors can be made to look like wood, but they can not match the visual appeal of real wood.
Cost: Fiberglass doors are generally more expensive than wood but can be more economical over time, as you save money in maintenance costs.
Interior vs. Exterior Door Materials
When choosing materials for your doors, it's essential to consider where the door will be located. Interior doors don't require the same level of durability as exterior doors, and different materials can be used. Here's a comparison of interior and exterior door materials:
Wood: Wood is a popular material for both interior and exterior doors. It's durable, and secure, and can be customized to match the home's aesthetics. Hollow-core doors are a popular cost-saving measure for interior doors but are unsuitable for exterior use.
Glass: Glass is commonly used for interior doors, such as French doors and pantry doors. It allows natural light to pass through, making the space feel more open and airy. Exterior doors can incorporate glass panes, but in South Africa tend to require reinforcement or additional levels of protection for security reasons.
PVC: PVC is an affordable option for interior doors. It's lightweight, easy to install, and requires minimal maintenance. However, it's not as durable as other materials and may not be suitable for exterior doors.
Aluminium: Aluminum doors are commonly used for interior doors, such as sliding doors and shower doors. They're lightweight and easy to maintain, but they're not as secure as other materials and may not be suitable for exterior doors.
Choosing the Right Material and Wood for Your Exterior Door
Ultimately, the best material and wood for your exterior door will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:
Climate: South Africa's climate is known for its high humidity and rainfall, which can cause wood to rot and warp. It's essential to choose a material that can withstand these weather conditions, such as fibreglass or a hardwood like Meranti, Okoume, or Oak. This is especially important in coastal regions.
Security: If security is a top priority, steel doors and steel-reinforced wooden doors are the best options. They're incredibly durable and difficult to break through, making them ideal for high-risk areas.
Aesthetics: If you're looking for a traditional look and feel, wood doors are the best option. They offer a warm and welcoming feel and can be customized to match the home's exterior. If you prefer a more modern look, fibreglass or steel doors may be a better option.
Budget: The cost of the door will depend on the material and size. Steel doors are generally more expensive than wood or fibreglass doors, but they offer greater security and durability. If budget is a concern, pine or PVC may be a more affordable option. However, we do not recommend cutting costs on exterior-facing doors.
Choosing the Best Materials for Your Exterior Door
Choosing the right material and wood for your exterior door is an important decision. It's essential to consider the climate, security, durability, and aesthetics when making your decision. Meranti, Okoume, Oak, steel, and fibreglass are all excellent options to consider, each with its unique benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, the best option for your home will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you're unsure which material or wood to choose, consult with a professional contractor or retailer who can provide expert advice and guidance.
You can see our full range of exterior doors here, including one of the widest ranges of wooden doors in South Africa. Or, contact us for any advice on choosing the best exterior door for your home or business.