A Facelift for your Front Door
By Katherine Sorrell
First impressions count, so give some thought as to how you can transform your entrance with colour, hardware, lighting… or even a whole new door.
It’s a welcome to visitors, the first thing that greets you after a hard day at work, and vital security that keeps out noise, draughts, intruders and the outside world in general. But is your front door up to scratch? Taking a long, hard look may reveal ways in which it, too, can be improved. Both practically and aesthetically, the difference can be remarkable.
When choosing a replacement door (if, for example, your door has warped, rotted or shrunk beyond repair), you may wish to replicate exactly what was there before – or it may be possible to update it with something better. It’s important to get it right, as a great front door is an investment that could even enhance the value of your home; get it wrong, however, and the reverse could be the case. Start by researching styles to suit the period of your property, and consider what material will work best. Wooden doors are still the most popular, and are ideal for period houses, while uPVC is usually a cheaper option that can be complementary for modern homes. Aluminium, though expensive, combines strength and stability with a cool, industrial look.
Sometimes it may be appropriate to include some glazing with your new door – ideal for introducing extra light into a dark hallway. Consider whether you would prefer clear, frosted or perhaps even stained glass, depending on the overall style, how much privacy you require and whether security is an issue. Double-glazed, laminated glass is the best option to ensure intruders can’t gain access. Speaking of security, an upgrade to your locks may also be a good idea – check with your insurers, but a five-lever mortice is usually best for timber doors, while a uPVC door should have an anti-snap lock and multipoint locking system.
Any door, new or old, should fit well within its frame, but it may still be an idea to improve its energy efficiency by adding seals around the edges, and a brush strip along the bottom. An internal letterbox flap or brush is also a great idea.
Good lighting is vital for when you’re struggling to find your keys or simply need to see the front path on a dark evening. It should not be too difficult for an electrician to swap your existing light for a swanky new one – or perhaps a pair, one on either side of the door. Again, you will probably wish to coordinate your lighting with the architectural style of your property, whether it’s a carriage, lantern or bulkhead model, a decorative hanging pendant or a sleek and minimal wall washer. If possible, add a motion sensor (good for security as well as convenience), and always ensure the fitting is suitably rated for safe exterior use.
The fastest way to transform an existing timber door is to give it a fresh coat of paint. What colour? It’s a matter of personal preference, of course, unless limited by a planning restriction (which may be the case in a conservation area), but it’s always a good idea to try to coordinate the colour with the style of your property and to take account of local approaches. A garish pink in a historic terrace where everyone else’s door is neutral may result in some unhappy neighbours! Painting a door also helps protect it from the weather, so it’s important to do it properly. Start by washing it down with soapy water, and either remove or cover the hardware. Remove loose or flaking paint, fill any holes or cracks, and sand down. Use primer on unpainted wood, or undercoat on previously painted or uPVC doors – you may need several coats – then finish with a couple of coats of the final colour, in tough, exterior gloss.
A lovely finishing touch is a brand new set of hardware – letter plate, knocker, knob and numbers, which are available in an array of durable styles. Provided you measure up correctly, it is surprisingly easy to swap them over for an instant refresh and smart new look.
BOX: Entrance Solutions
If you have ever forgotten your door key, you will probably have dreamt of swapping your old-fashioned lock for a ‘smart’ access mechanism that lets you in via fingerprint recognition – or even an app on your phone. Modern locks may also employ fobs, cards and keycodes, usually with a combination of several methods of opening, and while some only work when you are actually at the door in person, others can be opened remotely, offering you the chance to allow other people into your property when you’re away. Some connect to Alexa or other home networks, and there are options that create virtual keys or have time-sensitive pass codes, that feature anti-theft capabilities, a security camera or emergency siren, or that will alert you whenever your door is locked or unlocked.
Having chosen your preferred type of lock, the main consideration is to ensure it is compatible with your existing door, depending on the thickness of the door and the material from which it’s made. If you are keeping your existing lock rather than replacing it, that will also be a factor. Bear in mind that smart locks also need a battery (which will need recharging or changing from time to time) and may require a good Wi-Fi connection. There is a huge amount of choice, and the technology is confusing, so do your research thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from the manufacturer or retailer before committing.
- Porto design hinged door set in a RAL-painted finish in black, Urban Front: 01494 778 787; urbanfront.com.
- Front door painted in Lavender Quartz, Dulux: 0333 222 7171; dulux.co.uk/en/products.
- Etch-effect house name with Edwardian text, from £45 per square metre. Purlfrost Window Film: 020 8992 4024; purlfrost.com.