Prior to the 1970’s, residential door frames were almost exclusively built of wood by home builders on site as a part of the home framing process. Water and air infiltration was a problem. Ongoing maintenance was required to protect door frames, sills, door panels, even the structure of the home, from rot.
The energy crisis of the 1970’s meant homeowners became increasingly concerned about maintaining energy efficiency. Insulated steel and fiberglass door panels became available. Frames however were still wood.
In the 1990’s demand for increased quality and low maintenance in tract homes saw extruded plastic composite frames grow in popularity. Multiple iterations of this new door frame became popular in new construction. Wood/plastic hybrids were introduced in mid-1990s added strength to composite frames because purely plastic extruded frames were difficult to keep stable.
Enter the new century: Chinese manufacturing impacted the frame landscape. Fiberglass frames entered the marketplace, along with aluminum clad frames. Joining the fray were frames that used a composite base to offer the benefits of wood without the maintenance required to keep rot at bay.
The evolution of residential door frames has brought builders a long way forward. Today’s market offers a range of frame materials that were previously unavailable, but not all these options provide top performance:
Composite – Made from a combination of materials including uPVC, foam, wood, and glass reinforced plastic). Composite frames excel in many areas, but deformation and cracking from temperature extremes can be an issue and composite frames are more expensive.
Vinyl – PVC combined with UV stabilizers. You get low maintenance and good insulating value, but vinyl is more difficult to customize and cannot be painted.
Fibrex – A composite frame made of 60% thermoplastics and 40% wood fiber. The strength of wood with the ease of maintenance of vinyl. Fibrex insulates like vinyl but can be much more costly.
Fiberglass Frames – Inert and durable with good thermal properties, fiberglass can’t be machined, so profiles can be limited. Fiberglass frames may not be paintable, so color can be limited.
FrameSaver – A machinable composite base joined to a wood frame, FrameSaver delivers rot-proof performance along with the strength and ease of use of wood.
Aluminum Clad Wood Frames – Offer the advantages of both materials – minimal maintenance, durability, and strength. High initial cost, and the fact that these frames are easily damaged and difficult to repair is a significant drawback.
FusionFrame – Newly developed by Endura Products, FusionFrame is designed to incorporate the strength of wood with composite cladding so that it is truly maintenance free. Design features make it possible to install FusionFrame door units quickly and perfectly, even in imperfect openings. Fasteners are completely hidden, so the finish is flawless. Removeable jamb and brickmould covers can be changed out quickly if damage occurs. Brickmold and flat casing are depth adjustable so that they can maintain a tight seal if the rough opening is out of plumb. All the benefits of any other frame material, with no cons.
So which frame will work best for you? We’d suggest you pick the one with the fewest cons. For more information about frames and door systems, visit EnduraProducts.com. We would love to help you determine which frames are right for you.