Everything you need to know about the door buying process

By Masonite

Ready to buy a new door? Our guide is a good starting point on your journey.

The outside of a Craftsman style home with wood front door, beige shingles and side gate next to detached garage

Doors are the key to defining the look, functionality, energy efficiency and security of your home. Whether you’re simply swapping out a broken door or completely renovating a space, it's important to have all the information you need before you head out to buy a door, so you don’t run into any snags.  
If you need a new front door or patio door, the purchase process will look a little different than that for an interior door. Here is an overview of details you need to know when it comes to purchasing interior and exterior doors.

How to buy an exterior door 

Exterior doors provide more energy efficiency, more safety and more technology. Front doors are a particularly important architectural characteristic and can play a big role in boosting curb appeal. According to many experts, it can even improve the resale value of your home.

Here are 10 things to know before and during the door buying process:

  1. Pick the door location. Consider the specific location on the exterior of your house where the door will be installed. There’s a noted difference between the type of door you want as a front door, versus what you would use for the patio or a garage-to-home entrance.
  2. Determine the configuration. Determine the size and layout of the door opening; you’ll also need to know if it will be a single door, a single door with a sidelite or two or double doors. 
  3. Find your door style. Choose a door design that reflects the architectural or personal style of your home. You’ll need to consider different types of door panels, amount of glass, glass options and other customizable elements.
  4. Understand different door materials. Decide what material – fiberglass, wood or steel – is right based on the style you’ve selected, benefits and tradeoffs of each material.  
  5. Select door system components. An exterior door is more than just a door—it is a whole system of components that work together to provide superior performance and protection from the elements (See: Masonite Performance Door System, as an example). When shopping for a door system, you’ll need to decide between a range of frames, sills, weatherstrips and corner pads to get the performance that is right for you.
  6. Know industry sizing. Most doors come in standard sizes, but that does not mean that every opening is a standard size. Nonstandard sizing will require a customized door which will need to be special-ordered.
  7. Consider door-specific questions. Buying a door is the first time you might hear the phrase right or left handing, and you need to know it, along with the swing being inswing versus outswing, before you go to make a purchase. (Quick tip – handing is the side of the door with the handle!)
  8. Consider security features. Strengthen your front door by considering which type of lock you want, including multipoint locks that offer more security than a deadbolt. If the door has glass, you can also upgrade to laminate glass that provides more fire safety and storm preparedness, along with advanced locking.
  9. Elevate hardware. Choose hardware options that complement your door and overall design, such as a lever for a more modern door or a more ornate nob for a classic door. The color of the hinges is also necessary to achieve a cohesive look.
  10. Know your code requirements. Depending where you live, there may be local codes and ordinances for fire- and impact-rating and ADA compliance requirements. 

How to buy an interior door

Interior doors provide privacy, peace and quiet, and can be used to stylishly add an upgrade to your space or separate and hide different areas within your home. Whether you’re shopping for a solid core door for the bathroom or a barn door for the pantry, there are several things you will need to know when you go to purchase, similar to exterior doors.  
Here is our checklist of 9 things you need to keep in mind as you prepare to replace your interior doors:

  1. Pick the door location. Consider the specific location where the door will be installed.  While all interior doors might look the same in your house today, there are different considerations for bedroom/bathroom, closet and pantry doors. For instance, a shared bathroom will require more privacy than a closet door. 
  2. Know the interior door applications. Determine the size and layout of the door opening; you’ll also need to know if it will be a single door or double doors.
  3. Determine the configuration. Interior door configurations are less complex than exterior doors.  The most common configuration is a standard swing door; however, some spaces like an office will require french doors. Consider the size and layout of the rough opening where the door will be installed.
  4. Find your door style. Choose a door style that pairs well with the overall look and feel of your home, whether it's complementing your kitchen and bath cabinets or overall theme of your home. Consider design elements like the number of panels, raised or recessed panels and panel shape. 
  5. Choose custom elements. Particularly for wood interior doors, there are many customizations including species of wood, stain, panel design and glass. 
  6. Understand different door materials. Interior door material comes down to preference and needs for the space. Molded and flush doors, for example solid core doors, address sound-dampening needs, while wood doors, which are sometimes called stile and rail doors, are made when horizontal rails and vertical stiles come together with mullions and panels.
  7. Know industry sizing. Just like exterior doors, interior doors are available in both standard and customized sizes. 
  8. Consider door-specific questions. Also, like the exterior door buying process, you’ll need to know the right or left handing for your interior door before purchasing. 
  9. Elevate hardware. Choose hardware options that complement your door and overall design, such as a lever for a more modern look or a bronze or crystal knob for a classic style. The color of the hinges will complete the cohesive look.
Last Updated: July 06, 2023