If security and durability are your top priorities, a steel door may be your best choice. A steel door is far stronger than either fiberglass or wood. In addition, it won’t crack, warp, or come apart. Although residential steel doors can be dented, repairs can be made with an auto-body repair kit.
A steel wood armored door isn’t as industrial as it sounds. Most steel doors have surfaces of heavy-gauge galvanized steel that have been embossed with a wood-grain pattern. Some types are given a wood-fiber coating that allows them to be stained. High-end doors may even have a real-wood veneer laminated onto their surfaces.
Conventional steel doors are factory primed with a baked-on polyester finish; they generally require periodic repainting. Some are given a vinyl coating for greater weather resistance. All have an inner frame that may be made of wood or—for greater strength—steel. The cavities within the frame are filled with high-density foam insulation. Weather Shield’s insulated steel door with hardwood veneer facings has an insulation value of about R-8.
Steel doors are less expensive than fiberglass and china wooden doors. A 3-foot-by-6-foot-8-inch paneled door without hardware or glazing typically costs $100–$120. As with fiberglass doors, the price can run nearly as high as a wood entry system when you add amenities such as sidelites and high-quality hardware.
A premium residential steel door has a skin of 24-gauge steel and a steel frame. You can special-order thicker steel on some models. If it is embossed with a wood grain pattern, the direction of wood grain should match the direction wood grain would normally go: horizontally on the rails and vertically on the stiles.