By BUILDER Magazine Staff. In a recent national study, the market research firm NFO WorldGroup concluded that a more attractive front entrance can increase the perceived market value of a home by about $25,000. This speaks volumes to how important a quality entry door is for your houses.

"When prospective buyers walk up to a home, the first thing they see and touch is that front entrance," says Jeff Tartamella, director of product development for New Britain, Conn.-based Stanley. "It's also the last." Translation: It's worth your while to make sure the entry way makes a lasting impression on the buyer.

The dominant entry door used by builders to achieve maximum attraction has been made from steel, a strong and durable material that resists cracking, warping, and peeling. In addition, "the market is still heavily steel because it is less expensive," says Todd Friedman, product marketing manager for entry doors at Pella.

These positive qualities add up to give steel doors a market share estimated between 60 percent and 65 percent, but steel has one drawback--it dents. This is the opening that manufacturers of fiberglass entry doors are hoping to exploit.

Fiberglass expands

Jerry Oleshansky, vice president of sales at Maumee, Ohio-based Therma-Tru (the company which funded the NFO study), says fiberglass is finally getting its due. The material owns about 10 percent of the entry-door market, but it has been growing at a rate of about 20 percent per year. At this rate, says Oleshansky, the market for fiberglass doors should double in size in the next four to six years.

One reason for this is the versatility of fiberglass products. Fiberglass, which does not dent or warp, can look like wood or smooth-skin paintable steel. Therma-Tru, which manufactures steel doors, also offers a variety of fiberglass doors with these appealing qualities. Stanley and Ontario, Canada-based Masonite, also make wood-like and smooth-skin products. Other fiberglass products, such as Pella's Carbonite entry door are becoming the first choice for builders, says Friedman.

Value added

Another reason the growth will continue is the price of fiberglass. Fiberglass doors can cost at least $100 more than steel doors, perhaps up to 80 percent more in some case, Friedman says. As the price of fiberglass becomes more competitive with steel, the building community will increase its usage. Moreover, builders will continue to see the inherent value in fiberglass and will see that it is the better choice in the long run, he adds.

"Builders find that they have to deal with callbacks due to dents in steel doors," Oleshansky says. Such callbacks, he explains, add hidden cost on the back end for the builder. The steel door may cost less up front, but it costs builders up to $75 every time they have to go out to repair dents. Additionally, "homeowners are also becoming attuned to the fact that fiberglass does not dent, warp, rot, or rust."

Tartamella agrees that fiberglass is a wonderful product, but adds that an entry is more than just the door. It includes the door (or the slab), sidelites, transoms, and decorative glass--all the fixings that help increase the perceived value of a home. When builders choose an entry, "they look at the entire system. The slab is just a piece of that and is a relatively small component in terms of the overall cost."

Courtesy Therma-Tru

Classic crafted: Molded of impact-resistant fiberglass, Classic-Craft offers the look and feel of natural red oak. Resistant to dents, warping, and cracking, the door features solid oak square edges, a polyurethane foam core, a wide laminated wood lock stile running the entire length, and a moisture-resistant bottom. The door is available in a wide variety of configurations with decorative glass, doorlights, sidelites, and transoms. All are insulated with tempered glass. Therma-Tru. 800-537-5322.

Courtesy Pella

Carbon copy: The Carbonite entry door offers the look of wood but has the maintenance benefits and performance of a composite material. The door is made with enhanced fiberglass so it resists dents and corrosion, and the wood-grain surface accepts paint or stain. It is available in 19 panel styles or with decorative glass inserts. Staining kits are available in seven colors. Pella. 641-628-1000.

Courtesy Masonite

Nice 'n smooth: The ArTek smooth fiberglass door can withstand rain, snow, and sun and will resist cracking, splitting, and warping, the manufacturer says. Available in a variety of panel designs with decorative glass options and sidelites, the door has a polyurethane core, wood stiles and rails, and square-edge construction (like a wood door). It comes in 80-inch and 96-inch sizes in four- and six-panel styles. Single- and double-doors are available. Masonite. 800-663-3667.

Courtesy Peachtree

Grand entrance: Newport II offers the look of wood but with the insulation and performance of fiberglass. It has an insulated polyurethane core that the manufacturer says results in six times the energy efficiency of a conventional wood door. The doors come in 77 styles--primed and ready to paint. Or buyers can choose one of six wood-looking stainable colors. A variety of decorative glass choices with brass caming is available as well. Peachtree. 770-497-2000.

Courtesy Stanley

Panel member: The raised panels of this entry door have crisp edges and shadow lines that create a wood-like appearance, and the polyurethane foam core provides a better insulating value than a typical wood door. Eight decorative glass collections are available, including brass, zinc, and patina caming as well as V-groove and silk-screened glass patterns. All lights with decorative caming are crafted from three panels of glass, including two impact-resistant tempered sheets. Stanley. 800-782-6539.