The term "curb appeal" refers to how attractive a house that's on the market will look to potential buyers driving by — and the centerpiece of it all is your front door. Though it's almost universally a good idea to swap out an old tired door for a new one before you sell a home, doors can get pricey and you may be wondering how much you should invest to see a solid increase in value of the property.
So, does replacing the front door actually add value to your home? Here's what the research says.
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Experts agree that replacing the front door will add value to the home, although the increase in value may not equal the cost of the project.
The Benefits of Exterior Projects
Exterior home improvement projects of all kinds are likely to add to the sales value of a property. That makes sense since it's the outside of a home that buyers see (and judge) first. That means any home improvement project that spiffs up the exterior increases curb appeal and might lead to more offers and a higher sales price.
While exterior projects, like replacing the roof or putting in designer landscaping, are costly and time consuming, smaller projects, like replacing the front door, are relatively simple and easier on the budget than a full-scale redesign of the front yard.
Replacing the entryway door to your home specifically will make the house more attractive to buyers. This is especially true if your old door was weather beaten, damaged, or didn't match the aesthetic of the house — but making the house more stylish is not the only reason buyers will be attracted. They might also consider energy efficiency and security.
If you buy a high-quality replacement door, the new modern materials are sure to form tighter seals that keep warmth inside in winter and cool air inside in summer. The new door will also increase home security, especially if you opt for a steel door rather than a fiberglass one.
Fiberglass vs. Steel
Decades ago, most front doors were made of wood. Wooden doors are still popular, given their elegance and durability, but wooden entry doors require regular maintenance to ensure they continue to look good year after year. Today, steel and fiberglass doors are low-maintenance options that each have their own advantages.
Fiberglass entry doors have the edge over steel when it comes to looks. They are made of composite materials inside a fiberglass panel that resembles wood, with smooth finishes that can be painted to match the home or stained. These doors are available in various design options, and you can get them in many sizes and finishes as well as with or without decorative glass inserts. They cost more than steel doors.
Steel doors are built for safety and durability. You can find doors with different gauge levels of steel, a factor that impacts the life span of the door. Steel doors don't look steely or metallic; the steel is covered with a baked enamel finish available in a range of colors and styles. On the other hand, the epoxy-coated galvanized steel covers both the door and the frame, making them tougher than any other door material. Wood can splinter, and fiberglass can crack. If someone tries to bash in a steel door, the steel may dent, but it won't break or warp. The option also provides greater security from the elements.
Cost of Door Replacement
The cost of a new front entryway door depends on the type of door you buy and whether you install it as a DIY project or pay someone to do it. The cost of a door itself can range from $200 to $3,000 and sometimes even higher.
Good steel doors are available for under $500, and few cost more than $1,300. They are usually in stock at hardware stores. On the other hand, fiberglass doors start at about $1,000 and go up from there depending on the customization. You'll have to know what you are looking for before placing an order. Wooden exterior doors cost more than steel doors too, although not quite as much as fiberglass.
Hiring an expert to install the door may be a good idea depending on the homeowner's level of DIY skills, but it will raise the cost of the new door. Installation costs vary around the country, but nationwide, the average cost for exterior door installation is $1,130, according to HomeGuide.
Does a New Door Actually Increase Value?
It is true that many home improvement projects increase the sales value of a house. However, it is a myth that most projects pay for themselves, causing a bump in price that exceeds the cost of the improvement. Some projects can pay for themselves in a few markets, but most return only a percentage of the money that the homeowner spent on the improvement while making the home more attractive to buyers.
This is the case with a new entryway door. The 2021 Cost vs. Value Report is the latest version of an annual analysis of 101 United States cities. The report sets out the average cost of doing 22 home remodeling projects and calculates the increase in the value of a home with that improvement during the report year. The 2021 report sets the average cost for replacing a front door with a new steel door to be $2,082, including materials and labor. Of that amount, the owners recouped an average of $1,353 when they sold the property. This means they got back 65 percent of the price of the repair.
Other companies doing this analysis put the percentage slightly higher. The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report put together by the National Association of Realtors puts the cost of a new steel door at $2,000. Of that, they estimate that the cost that would be recovered if the house was sold would be $1,500, or 75 percent. They estimate the cost of a new fiberglass door at $2,700 and that the cost recovered on sale would be $2,000, or 74 percent.
If you were hoping to recover all the money you put into a home improvement project, it's rare but possible. The National Association of Realtors estimates the cost of a new roof at $7,500 with $8,000 recovered on sale. Even so, the return on investment is not very high. Ultimately, replacing a front door is all about making a good overall first impression with the buyer, which isn't exactly easy to quantify — but crucial when trying to close the sale.