Should I change our newer doors with older ones?
September 26, 2010 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Should I replace my ugly (more energy efficient) doors with some older, more attractive ones? If so, how to go about it?

The two main doors into our small house are newer steel prehung doors with foam inside, and ugly plastic muntins between the windows. Years ago I found some older, wooden doors in the barn that were probably the ones replaced. They're very nice looking, with glass panes over 2/3 of the length, but slightly thin, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Obviously with that being the case, they're horribly energy inefficient.

If I rehang the old doors, I can make a tight seal, but I don't know if there's a good way to make the rest of it more efficient; there's not even glazing, just wooden strips holding the thin panes in (one pane needs a new strip on it, and I'm not sure how to match that). Older brass knobs and escutcheons probably lose heat as well. I suppose we could put on a storm door, though that would kind of blow the aesthetics.

I suppose I'm looking for opinions on just how much heat we may lose, what ways we may be able to reduce that, or whether or not we should even do it. Thanks!
posted by Red Loop to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I did this. Dollar for dollar it was the best home improvement we ever made. We got sick of looking at our fugly laminated foam/oak veneer door and replaced it with a beautiful old antique on Craigslist for $70. It was tricky to fit/hang, but it's well sealed when shut, so I doubt that it makes any real difference in the heating bill. The only additional thing I did was seal up the old keyhole, since we use a deadbolt. Go for it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:30 PM on September 26, 2010

If you want to perfectly match the missing moulding. It could done with a few old hollow& round wooden moulding planes. You get one plane to match an outside curve and another to match an inside curve. If you check your local antique shops on the chance that you might find an old plane with a very similar profile.

Also, if your old house is anything like ours, there are plenty of badly insulated walls so one less double glazed window isn't any big deal.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:43 PM on September 26, 2010

You can replace the glass with double-glazed, with new trim and good glazing to make the door air-tight. Depending on what the inside looks like, you could maybe add some insulation (maybe sheet foam) to the inside of the door, or door panels. Hard to say for sure without seeing the door.

You don't mention where you live, so it's hard to say just how energy efficient you'll want the new doors to be. For me here in Minnesota, replacing one door on my house, sealing up the front door better (new weather-stripping and glass), and putting new storm doors on both saved me about $120 (roughly 10% of my heating bill) per year in heating costs (on a 2-story house with a 24' x 24' footprint).

The other thing to consider long-term if you're in the northern part of the country is adding an air-lock type setup, either inside or by adding a porch on the outside.
posted by DaveP at 2:19 PM on September 26, 2010

My wife and I did the best of both worlds. We had an original door that opened onto a 2.5 season porch which gets cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey in the winter. We had a carpenter replace the old door (which I liked, but was drafty as all hell) with a wooden door and threshold with proper thermal panes. I opted not to get a door with muntons/mullions as that drove the price up. I primed and painted the interior to match the room and put a few coats of Spar varnish on the outside for looks. Now the house is sealed up tight enough that there is no cold from the porch in the winter. What a joy!
posted by plinth at 5:50 PM on September 26, 2010

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