As you drive through a custom home neighborhood today, you'll notice one thing for certain: the entryway is no longer just a "nice door" that opens to the rest of the house. The entryway in today's custom home provides an opportunity for a homeowner to make a unique individual statement. It is often the personal signature that expresses the unique character and style of a home. In many cases, the entry door has become an entry "system" that integrates larger, often paired doors and lots of glass--sidelights and transoms that emphasize the architectural theme of the home. For this reason, custom homebuilders are spending a greater percentage of their overall building budget on the entryway.
Technological advances in wood entry doors and glass have contributed significantly to this trend. Developments in door construction and design over the past decade have given architects and builders greater flexibility to reinvent the entryway. Wood doors, sidelights and transoms also offer greater flexibility when it comes to sizes and design. This is in contrast to steel and fiberglass doors that are essentially built from standard templates and molds, which do not offer much flexibility for making slight adjustments to accommodate size and design changes.
Trend #1. A New Generation of Wood.
For a while, it looked like competitive materials might swallow the lion's share of the door market. The wave of the future seemed to be no-nonsense doors made of molded steel or fiberglass. But wood door manufacturers met the challenge and re-engineered wood entry doors to enhance their performance and make them even more energy efficient.
For example, the Simpson Door Company studied how moisture infiltrates wood doors in extreme exposures and developed a way to block it. Researchers found that moisture enters a wood door through the open grain of the stile end and then wicks across the dowel pins into the end grain of the bottom rail. Simpson developed the technology to help prevent moisture from seeping into the bottom rail, making the door resistant to moisture-related problems.
In addition, some wood door manufacturers have also re-engineered the door panels. As a modern wood panel is manufactured, it is sliced into two sections. One of those sections is rotated 180° and then is glued to the other piece. The opposing grain patterns and the glue reinforcement greatly strengthen the unit, resulting in a panel that will stay true and will not split through. These re-engineered components help resist the tendency to warp, twist or split.
These advances are great news because studies continue to affirm that architects, builders and homeowners prefer the appearance of wood doors to doors of other materials. These technical advances have increased the performance of wood doors and have resulted in increased demand for more choices that reflect individual taste and style.
Trend #2. Glass is growing.
Today, many types of wood door designs are available to complement nearly any architectural style. Buyers are no longer limited to the traditional six-panel look. Raised mouldings, decorative glass inserts and detailed patterns are just a few of the new design elements that can be combined in various ways to create highly individualized doors.
New construction seems to be including more and more glass in the entryway. Doors with oversized inserts are popular for their classic styling and for the extra light they transmit. Even French doors have found a niche as entry doors.
Part of this new popularity is because of the improved insulation qualities. Doors with glass, transoms and sidelights once meant problematic leaks and drafts (since they were typically only single-glazed). That, too, has changed. Insulated glass units are now airtight and offer such advantages as triple glazing on leaded glass inserts, argon gas in insulated glass units and warm edge technology that contribute to better performance.
Glass designs have been changing as well. Clear or sandblasted glass is popular today while beveled and leaded glass is favored for a look of elegance. Obscured glass transmits light without compromising privacy.
Currently, the look of craftsman or prairie style architecture is enjoying renewed popularity. It has brought back the leaded glass French door and art glass. The doors, characterized by intricate geometric patterns, are triple-glazed, and the leaded glass is sandwiched between layers of glass. This makes for easier cleaning and much better resistance to heat loss, in addition to protecting the leaded glass caming. Art glass is often in, and of itself, a work of art. These finely crafted panels are designed to express a homeowner's individual style through patterned, colored schemes and often imitate the works of early 20th century craftsman style architects.
Trend #3. Turn up the volume.
"Volume" appears to be another key development. Architects and builders are expanding the height and width of the entry to create a dramatic effect. Eight-foot doors are more common and are often paired to create the heart of the new entry system. No longer simply a door, a system might include a single door or pairs of doors, sidelights and transom. The matching or complementary components create an impressive focal point for the home.
Trend #4. Following through.
Just as the entry door should complement and underscore the overall architectural scheme, interior doors can be selected to carry the theme throughout the home. Details such as arches, grillwork and moulding can all be replicated in a way that ties the entire project together. Interior as well as entry doors can be specified to go along with a very distinctive architectural type from Victorian to Contemporary to Craftsman. That is why some manufacturers offer complete lines of doors featuring the same designs. Matching fire doors and French doors are available in some lines.
Trend #5: The signature look.
In custom home construction, individual style is the rule. People want a signature look that reflects their own character, and it can start at the entryway. Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve a custom look without breaking the bank. Much can be done with glass inserts, hardware and finish to create a custom look. Wood doors especially offer the flexibility necessary for unusual height and width specifications.
One method of customization at RCCZ Door is in a line of doors called the Advent Collection. In each door, stiles and rails frame an engineered homogeneous wood panel that has been meticulously detailed. Uniquely contemporary patterns emerge from intersecting grooves and smooth surfaces. A selection of designs provides a range of choices in different motifs. For a highly individualized look, custom patterns may be designed by the architect or builder and then carved into the panel. The result is a one-of-a-kind door at a fraction of the cost for a custom appearance. The popularity of made-to-order door products such as Advent is growing.
Technological advances in wood doors and glass have dramatically increased options for architects, builders and homeowners to create dramatic, yet inviting entryways. The size and complexity of today's "high-tech," handcrafted wood entry door is increasing as manufacturers discover new and better ways to further enhance performance. Technology is reinventing and expanding our view of doors, glass and entryways.