Berdick Windows & Doors   595 Warren Avenue East • Penticton, BC   V2A 3M5

Exterior doors

Incredible Exterior Doors – The #1 Buyers Guide

Sage advice for buying exterior doors

The options when buying residential exterior doors can seem endless. Let us help you work through the process by providing some helpful information. If you are hiring a professional installer for your home improvement project, they often take care of many of these details. A professional can save you time, money, and headaches. But if you are installing yourself, We hope the information in this article will help you with your project.

How to measure exterior doors

If you are acting as the professional, you will be responsible for providing all the details starting with the width, height, and depth of the exterior door and frame. Typically, the best measurement to provide the salesperson is the rough opening size. The rough opening size is the measurement of the opening in the wall from stud to stud. Measure the right, middle, and left side and the top, center, and bottom of the opening and provide the smallest measurement.

Sometimes the rough opening is not square, or the header has sagged. Providing the smallest measurement will ensure the door fits the opening properly. When you provide your measurements, clarify which measurement is the width, and which is the height. You wouldn’t want to get your sizes mixed up.

In addition to the width and height, you will also have to provide the wall depth from outside the sheathing to flush with the interior surface of the drywall. 4 ½” is common for older homes and 6 ½” is common for newer homes but the depth can vary depending on construction methods.

Standard door panel sizes are 31 ¾” x 79”, 33 ¾” x 79”, and 35 3/4” x 79”. You can also purchase many door panels with a 95” height and some at 83”. If possible, it’s always best to use a standard size door to save you time and money. Custom door sizes are available, but usually cost more and take longer that standard size exterior doors.

Exterior door design

Would you like a single door, double door, door and one narrow sidelite, door and two narrow sidelites? How about a transom window attached above the door? The size of the opening in the wall usually dictates which configuration would work best. In some cases, you could remove a double door and add a door with two narrow sidelites and vise versa. A salesperson will be able to provide you with options after you provide the size.

Exterior door type

There are many types of doors including steel, smooth fiberglass, wood grain fiberglass, solid wood, and metal clad wood. The type of door you select will likely depend on your taste and budget. One of the most common types of exterior doors sold today is made of fiberglass. Fiberglass exterior doors come with a primed white smooth surface that can be painted or a primed beige wood grain surface that can be painted or stained to look like wood. Fiberglass exterior doors are more dent resistant and less likely to warp than steel exterior doors and are more durable and cost effective than wood or metal clad wood exterior doors.

Most people stain or paint the doors on-site after installation, but factory stained or painted doors and frames are often available. Check with your door supplier to see what options are available.

Exterior door panel design

If you would like a door panel without glass, you can select from several designs to suit your taste. The exterior door panel design is usually the same throughout the house and often matches the design of the interior doors. Common designs include flat or flush panel, 2-panel square, 2-panel arch top, 6-panel, 3-panel equal, 3-panel craftsman, and several shaker panel door styles. Shaker panel doors are characterized by deep panels with 90-degree edges instead of the rounded contoured design of most other door panels. There are also a number of modern steel door designs with indented lines to create a variety of patterns.

Exterior door glass type

Choosing door glass can be simple with plain clear glass or it can become overwhelming with the vast number of decorative glass options available.

If your door will have clear glass then you just need to decide if the door will have half glass, three quarter glass, or full glass. Half glass is common on back or side doors and full glass is common on single and double doors that access the deck or patio. You may want to consider having internal blinds between the glass to block some light or add privacy. The internal venetian blinds are completely sealed between the glass, so they are not able to flop around or be damaged by people or animals. No cleaning is necessary since dust, dirt, and debris cannot settle on the blinds. Strong magnets tilt, raise, and lower the blinds.

If you plan to add decorative glass to your door, ask your supplier which collection of glass you should choose from. There are several different manufacturers, and they all have different designs and prices. The larger the glass and more intricate the detail, the greater the price. It’s usually best to select one or two designs for your salesperson to quote.

Exterior door swing (handing)

It’s important to order each door so that it swings in a direction that suits the area of the house. In our experience, most companies look at the doors from the outside looking in.

If you are outside the home looking inside, do you want the hinges on the right or left side? If the hinges are on the left, it is called a left-hand or left-hand hung. If the hinges are on the right, it is called a right-hand or right-hand hung. If the door swings to the inside, it is called a left-hand inswing or right-hand inswing. If the door swings to the outside, it is called a left-hand outswing or left-hand reverse and a right-hand outswing or right-hand reverse.

Some companies may have a different way of clarifying the door swing or different terminology so its always best to ensure you and the supplier understand each other.

Door frame types

Most of the time, doors are sold as pre-hung units that include a frame to fit a 4 ½” or 6 ½” wall depth. Custom wall depths are often available as an option. The most common and economical door frame is made of primed finger-joint pine. Other options include stain grade hemlock, vertical grain fir, vinyl composite, vinyl wrapped wood, and aluminum clad wood. Primed or stain-grade wood jambs require proper finishing and periodic maintenance while vinyl and aluminum clad wood are more durable and require less maintenance. Wood jambs are usually finished on-site after installation, but a factory paint or stain is an option in some cases. Aluminum clad wood frames come in several colors to suit your needs.

Exterior door accessories

Depending on the type of door, there may be several optional accessories available to finish the door. Hinges are available as a basic pin hinge or a more durable ball bearing hinge. The hinges come in many colors including brass, satin nickel, brushed chrome, oil rubbed bronze and black. In some cases, you may require a spring closure hinge to meet building code requirements.

Door weather-strip is usually included when you buy a door frame and often comes in black, brown or white.

A door viewer or peephole is a useful option to allow you to see outside without opening the door. Quite often used in hotels or apartments, they are also useful and sometimes mandatory in residential applications.

Some craftsman style doors with a small panel or glass on the top are available with a decorative dentil shelf. The dentil shelf makes a door look more interesting and adds curb appeal.

For a more modern look, consider adhering stainless steel metal accents to your door after it has been stained or painted. The accents come in several designs and can transform a basic door into something amazing.

Exterior door hardware

Depending on the size, style, and vendor, exterior doors will either come with hardware or will have holes drilled to accept hardware.

The average exterior door comes with two 2 1/8” holes drilled to accept a standard deadbolt, lever, or doorknob with a 2 ¾” back-set. Most standard brand name hardware from your door supplier or home building center should fit this drilling configuration.

Many premium series doors or doors that are larger than 36” x 80” come with multipoint lever hardware. This hardware is built into the door to meet building code requirements and to ensure the door seals and locks properly. Multipoint hardware must be purchased with the door to make sure the lever is compatible with the internal locking mechanism. Several colors and styles are often available.

When buying exterior doors, there is a lot to consider. We hope this article has provided some valuable tips and insights to make your shopping easier. When you speak with a salesperson, ask a lot of questions, read your entire quote, and make sure you understand every detail. Everyone would like the process to go as smoothly as possible.

Where to buy exterior doors

If you are located in British Columbia, check-out They are a family owned and operated window and door manufacturer that has specialized in windows and doors since 1973. Contact Berdick today for a free quote on products and installation services. If you are not in the local area, they can suggest many authorized dealers throughout British Columbia.

Berdick offers many doors options from several brands. Check out these websites for design ideas.


If you found this information helpful, you may want to read a few of our other articles that can be found here.