The comprehensive guide to replacing a front door - from composite to timber

Everything you need to know about replacing a front door and creating the perfect entrance to your property

Olive green front door with stained glass panels in hallway.
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If the entrance to your home is no longer serving its purpose, whether aesthetically or functionally, you might be wondering how to go about replacing a front door. It's the first thing that guests see when they arrive and it plays a part in the kerb appeal of your home, so you want to get it right. Not only this, but it's also crucial for security and energy efficiency. 

When replacing a front door, it's worth considering what statement you want to make. It's a great opportunity to add style to your property and mark a sign of what's to come on the inside. There are so many colours and materials to choose from depending on what style of building you have, and of course, depending on your own taste. 

Utility bills are also on the rise which could speed up your need to replace a front door, as maybe it isn't as thermally efficient as possible. Inefficient doors will let precious heat leak out and channel cold draughts into your living spaces. The same can be said for old windows, so now could also be the time to consider replacement windows

‘Make sure the door is weather sealed, has been thermally tested and has a good U-value,’ says Elizabeth Assaf, Designer and Co-Founder at Urban Front. U-values are the method for measuring heat loss through a product, where low figures indicate better performance.

Your guide to replacing a front door

house entrance with white wall frames on wall and navy blue door with letterbox flap

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Here we’re looking at the key considerations when choosing your replacement doors, from material and maintenance, through to style, locks and installation. You should also research how much does a front door cost?

What types of replacement front doors are there?

The type of material a door is made from will impact on its look, performance, cost and maintenance requirements. Here are the pros and cons to the four main options:

1. Timber front doors

Hallway showing the inside of a timber front door with glass panels either side.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Whether you have a countryside property or just want to add a touch of warmth to the exterior of your home, wood will be a popular choice. It's been used for doors for centuries and continues to be a durable, natural and attractive material. 

‘The trend for natural products is here to stay. There is a real return to the beauty of natural materials thanks to the texture and colours,’ says Elizabeth Assaf. Look for hardwoods that bring a variation of hues and style to your home, for instance, the warmth of oak and deep tone of walnut.

Timber is eco-friendly (if sourced from sustainably managed forests) and can last for many years – just think about the stunning old doors seen on period homes across the UK. ‘Timber doesn’t date, and it can be renewed by sanding back and retreating,’ adds Elizabeth. ‘It’s easy to be creative with a bespoke design using wood.’

However, it will require some maintenance, which is important to factor in to your decision making. Wood needs to be treated with oil, lacquer or paint to withstand the weather and this will need to be redone every six to either years. Hardwood will also be a more premium option with a higher price. 

2. PVCu front doors

White hose with navy traditional front door and green plants on porch.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Plastic is a low-maintenance and affordable option for front doors. 'If working on a strict budget, a PVCu door can be a great option,' says Martin Matthews, assistant buyer of timber and joinery at B&Q. 'Not only is this low maintenance material great value for money, its weather resistant qualities also make it an ideal choice for those looking for a durable and long-lasting door.'

You can also get PVCu doors in a variety of colours and designs. ‘Gone are the days when white was the only colour available,’ adds Jill McLintock, Head of Product Marketing at Everest. ‘Anthracite grey, for instance, is an increasingly popular choice at the moment, for modern and more traditional properties alike.’

PVCu is one of the cheapest options for replacement front doors – although you’re unlikely to see plastic used in the bespoke, high-end door market. But if the idea of using plastic in your home doesn’t correlate with your sustainability goals, then this material probably isn’t for you. PVCu doors tend to have a limited lifespan and aren’t easily recycled.

3. Aluminium front doors

House with aluminium front door with long silver handle.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Metal is gaining popularity as a material for front doors, and aluminium is a great option that's widely available for your home. ‘Aluminium front doors are incredibly strong and secure, but also light and resilient to adverse weather conditions,’ says Victoria Brocklesby, COO at Origin.

Aluminium products have good sustainability credentials as these front doors have an insulating core, meaning they can offer low U-values. The material is also easy to recycle at the end of its useful life. Aluminium entrances are treated with a powder-coated finish, which is extremely low maintenance as it won’t require future touch-ups.

When it comes to costs, aluminium is one of the more expensive options for your entrance. ‘Aluminium is positioned at the top of the price range; however, it offers clear benefits to homeowners, providing the very highest standards in terms of security, construction, performance, and choice,’ says David O’Mara, Marketing Manager at Hörmann UK.

4. Composite front doors

Light stone house with green front door and bushes outside.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Composite doors are made from several different materials. They feature a reinforced frame core with a thermally efficient layer, making a strong and high performing door. The outer material can be a variety of materials, including PVCu, GRP (glass reinforced plastic) or timber.

'If it’s a touch of luxury you’re after, composite doors might be the perfect option,' adds Martin. 'From classic to contemporary, this style offers great insulation and security, whilst its ability to block out external noises is a great way to ensure a little bit of peace and quiet in the home.'

Composite doors are a mid-price option – not as cheap as PVCu but not as expensive as aluminium or hardwood timber products. They are generally low-maintenance doors; simply keep them looking fresh with a soft cloth and warm soapy water. They also come in a wide range of finishes and paint colours with a broad choice of handles and door accessories, so you can completely personalise the door to fit the style of your property.  

What should you consider before buying replacement front doors?

Olive green front door with stained glass panels on a Victorian terrace house.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Follow our handy Q&A to get you off on the right footing:

What door will suit your style of property?

Your choice of front door ideas will be greatly influenced by the style and age of your property. If you’ve got a period home, you’ll probably want something in-keeping with the traditional look. You might even be limited by planning rules if it’s a listed building.

‘Playing it safe isn’t the only option. Ultra-minimalist doors don’t suit a traditional home just as a traditional Victorian door doesn’t suit an ultra-minimalist house,’ says Elizabeth Assaf from Urban Front. ‘If in doubt go for a simple and classic design, and consider the choice of finishes carefully.’

Traditional-style front doors include Victorian designs with glazed panes, Georgian panelled doors with fanlights, and ledge-and-brace cottage-style front doors. Contemporary doors often feature simple designs with feature glazing, long modern pull handles and sidelights. Colour will make a big impact, too – grey continues to be popular for contemporary looks, but a bold hue will bring some wow-factor to your entrance.

Don’t feel like you always have to replace a front door with the same style. ‘Just because someone lives in an older house, it doesn’t mean they have to stick to traditional fixtures and fittings. Sometimes, the contrast between traditional architecture and modern windows and doors can be striking and add a stylistic twist to a home,’ says Victoria Brocklesby from Origin.

How big should the door be?

If you’re looking for a replacement door in the same dimensions, then take measurements to make sure you’re buying the right product – you’ll need to be especially exact if you’re reusing the door frame.

You could install a larger front door. An oversized design will make a grand statement, but it also has accessibility benefits, offering more space for wheelchairs and prams – as will a level threshold. Of course, the space available will dictate the best door size for your home and opening up the aperture could significantly add to costs.

Do I need to replace my door frame?

This depends largely on the product you’re buying and the condition of the existing frame. If you’re replacing a like-for-like style, such as a PVCu design, then it’s often fairly simple to buy a suitable design and reuse the existing frame.

Bespoke doors work to your aperture’s specific measurements and are likely to be part of a doorset. ‘A doorset is the door, frame, and accompanying locks/door furniture all fitted and ready for installation,’ says Elizabeth Assaf. ‘If you change only the door, the new door has to be the same thickness and it would need a good carpenter to redo hinges, locks etc.’

house exterior with brick wall grey door and plants

(Image credit: Dulux)

What are the glazing options for front doors?

In terms of style, traditional doors often feature glass panes. These are usually symmetrically in Victorian and Georgian designs and a single square or diamond pane in cottage-style doors. It’s popular for contemporary entrances to have a single long pane of glass within the door panel and/or a large fixed sidelight adjacent to the door. There are lots of options for your door’s glazing and glass will help to turn your entrance into a statement feature. It can be a fairly simple process to replace front door glass.

‘The look and/or colour of the glazing is always a matter of personal choice, but a Georgian-style composite door would suit different glazing options to a 1930s Art Deco-style door, and different again to a more contemporary aluminium door,’ says Jill McLintock from Everest.

There are Building Regulations to be followed to make sure glass in your door is not a weak point in your home’s security. ‘Laminated glass is made by adding a sandwich of plastic laminate between two panes. This holds the glass together when broken, making it very difficult to gain access to the home in the event of an attempted break-in,’ adds Jill McLintock.

Will I need to pay a professional to fit replacement doors?

Installation might be included in the cost of your door. If you’re looking at fitting a supply-only product yourself then seriously consider if you have the DIY skills to do the job well. Remember that this is a security and thermal efficiency weak spot in your home, so you want to guarantee the door is performing as it should.

You could buy supply-only for your own carpenter or builder to fit, but bear in mind they should be suitably qualified. ‘Bespoke front doors require expert installation from experienced tradespeople, so we would never recommend that homeowners install products themselves,’ says Victoria Brocklesby. ‘If done incorrectly, it can compromise the integrity of the door and void the guarantee.’

How to choose door locks for replacement doors

Your locks are obviously a main consideration when it comes to your home’s security. The door type could impact what type of lock is best. For instance, traditional timber doors might feature a pair of locks (such as a mortise lock and night latch), whereas other styles may use multi-point locking systems. Many home insurance companies will specify that locks need to conform to British Standard 3621. You can expect modern products to meet this, but it’s always worth double checking. Ask your door provider what security accreditations their products carry.

If you want to include smart technology in your door, then there are plenty of options available as smart home devices are becoming increasingly commonplace. ‘Doors can be opened and closed via radio buttons, finger-scanners or a hand-held transmitter, whilst our app provides control from a smartphone,’ says David O’Mara from Hörmann UK. Video door bells are also available if you don’t want to include a viewing pane in your door.

Red front door on a terraced house.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What handles and hinges will suit my front door?

It might seem like a minor detail, but your door furniture (handles, hinges etc) will have a big impact on the overall style and functionality of your entrance. Colour and design will make a statement – a cylindrical brass handle, for instance, could look fantastic on a modern door with a matching door number.

Remember that the handle is the door part you’ll be using the most. Knobs tend to be trickier to grip, but could suit a traditional design. Long bar handles can look decorative as well as being easy to reach for the whole family.

Which style of letterbox is best?

Look to match your letterbox with the handles and locks on your front door to create a stylish finish. The attention to detail adds to your home’s kerb appeal. Make sure your letterbox is energy efficient and not letting heat leak out of your home or causing draughts.

The most energy efficient post box won’t be on your front door. You can get wall-mounted letterboxes in various colours and styles, and some are even large enough to accept bigger parcels.

Rhoda Parry

Rhoda Parry was the Editorial Director of Ideal Home and its sister titles, 25 Beautiful Homes and Style at Home from 2021-2022. She wass also Editorial Director for Gardeningetc, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens. Rhoda is a highly experienced editor and journalist and has worked on many women's lifestyle media brands throughout her career. For the last 20 years, she has specialised in homes, interiors and gardens. A storyteller at heart, Rhoda is passionate about championing, crafting and creating exciting written and visual content for digital, print and experiential audiences. 

With contributions from