Normally, here at Builder magazine, we advocate that you use the best-performing or best-looking product you can afford. But, in light of today’s budget-minded conditions, we’re willing to cut you some slack.

For example, we usually suggest that you specify solid-core interior doors because they look better, help minimize sound transmission, and feel more substantial in the hand. In light of the economy, though, we (grudgingly) admit that it’s okay to use more affordable hollow-core doors. We still, however, support the use of quality exterior doors.

Unlike interior doors, which are mostly relegated to the private areas of a home, exterior doors are very visible and could make the difference between a buyer continuing to drive by your home or pulling over to take a second look.

“A beautiful door says a lot about the owners’ pride in their home and creates a welcoming first impression for all who enter,” says Sara Theis Alcroft, senior manger for brand marketing at Maumee, Ohio–based Therma-Tru Doors. Alcroft is correct in her assessment, and the numbers appear to back up the company’s position that a good exterior door matters.

According to the “2009/2010 Cost vs. Value Report” by Remodeling magazine (Builder’s sister publication), seven of the top 10 value-yielding projects of the 33 projects ranked in that survey were exterior projects, and the one with the greatest return was a mid-priced entry door costing less than $1,200. “Curb appeal is king,” the magazine reported.

Naturally, all door manufacturers are advocates of good exterior doors, but Therma-Tru has been particularly vocal. The company recently launched a new Web-based tool called “My Saved Doors,” which makes it easier for consumers to research and shop for products. “When it comes to replacing or remodeling your entryway, the buying process can be time consuming and overwhelming,” says Jerry Oleshansky, the company’s vice president of marketing.

But now, he says, consumers and contractors can simplify the process and let other consumers vote on their choices to help make the decision-making process interactive and relatively painless.

Heavy Lifting: The 282-year-old German company has entered the U.S. market with this updated spin on the classic French door. Each door measures over 3 1/2 inches thick and can be ordered in sizes up to 8 feet by 12 feet and in almost any shape. A variety of species are possible, including meranti, mahogany, teak, and ipé. Montag Windows & Doors. 866-562-1728.