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In Arizona, your No. 1 consideration is which way the door faces.  

Exposure to the sun can turn your home’s beautiful first impression into an eyesore that peels and cracks and needs to be refinished every year.  

Does the front of your house face due south, or southeast or southwest, where it will take a direct hit from the sun every day? If it does, a wood front door is going to require an awful lot of maintenance.  

You might want to consider buying a fiberglass door that looks like wood but won’t warp, split or swell, and requires far less maintenance.  

Here’s the rest of Rosie’s checklist for front-door shopping:  

  1. Do you have the time, money and patience to refinish your wood door every single year? If not, fiberglass might be a better choice. The sun can still damage the finish on a fiberglass door, but it won’t damage the door itself because fiberglass doesn’t splinter or expand and contract with the weather.
  2. What style of door do you like? Rustic looks, with raised panels and rich stains, are popular for stucco homes. But if you live in contemporary or Craftsman-style home, you might want to consider a smoother or more traditional look to suit your house and neighborhood.
  3. Would you like the door to include glass insets or sidelights (the glass panels that surround some doors)? You’ll have dozens of styles to choose from—ranging from stained glass to beveled glass to clear glass. Consider your privacy and security; glass near the door lock could make it easier to break into.
  4. How much do you want to spend. You can buy a front door for as little as $850 installed, but the average Arizonan will pay between $2,000 and $3,000 in Phoenix. Add transoms (decorative windows over the door) and sidelights (decorative glass on the sides of the door) and the price inches upward.
  5. How big was your old door? Unless you want to pay to have your home’s entryway enlarged, choose a door the same size as the one you’re replacing.
  6. Do you want an energy-efficient door? Steel and fiberglass are better insulators than wood. Still, the front door is such a tiny piece of the home’s envelope that even an inefficient one isn’t going to make much difference in your air conditioning bill. In fact, you lose more cool air through leaks under and around a door than you do through it. Rosie recommends that you hire a professional to install the door rather than trying to do it yourself—unless you’re an extremely good carpenter. Hanging a door wrong can cause it to sag, rub, and open and close poorly—which could make it wear out sooner.

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