More than a facade: How doors and windows define your home

A door can say a lot about a home. After all, it is the very first part of the home that you touch and see. Your expectation of what lies beyond is coloured by the door itself. The most amazing house can be let down by a door that does not work with the home’s design, or even worse, a door that sticks.

“When you drive up to a home the first thing you see is that front door, and that will say a lot for a home,” says Phillip Hislop of Door Tech.

However, Phillip points out that the style of the door is only one factor to consider when selecting the right entrance for your home.

The choice of material is vital, as it can influence the door’s appearance and longevity as well as the amount of maintenance required and, of course, the cost involved.

“We try to look at the home that they are building and try to advise them in the type of door that will survive the elements and point them in the right direction in terms of the location of the doors (in the home),” Phillip says of owners building a home.

The location of the front door can have a big influence on its longevity. Doors that are exposed to the elements will need more care and will deteriorate faster, while doors that are in a shielded location will be more forgiving.

“You have to start thinking about the right materials for that door. Is it going to be able to withstand the weather? Wood doors are beautiful but they require more maintenance than fibreglass,” says Phillip.

Larry Thompson, of AL Thompson’s, says fibreglass doors have become popular in Cayman not only due to their ability to stand up to the weather, but also their increasingly modern appearance.

“In years past fibreglass doors were not able to replicate the beauty of mahogany but it’s getting better and better,” Larry says. “Fibreglass is surprisingly cost effective as well and once you put it up it’s there for life.”

Fibreglass doors also provide better energy efficiency than other materials, especially in conjunction with double-glazed glass, while also offering Dade County impact certification in combination with impact glass.

However, while fibreglass can match the look of a wood door, it cannot provide the same heft. For those who prefer a heavier door, solid wood is the best option. Or those who want to customise the door to suit the look of their home should opt for custom-made doors, as there is a limit to what is available in fibreglass.

With Cayman offering year-round outdoor living, the ability to bring the outside in is also important when it comes to your choice of door. The most popular style of door for breaking down the boundaries between inside and out remains French doors, as they combine beauty and security. French doors are available in a variety of materials, but as these doors will likely be combined with windows, it is advisable to match the two as closely as possible.

“We advise customers to go aluminium to match the rest of their windows, so whatever window configurations they have, they can get the exact same finish on their doors as well,” Larry says.

As they are not exposed to the elements, interior doors can be less sturdy, and consequently much cheaper, than exterior doors. This also means that price will often be the main consideration when deciding on which doors to use in a home.

However, a standard hollow core door will do little more than provide privacy as its sound insulation is minimal. For that, it is necessary to go for a solid core door, which would offer much better sound insulation. Depending on any decorative touches or moulding required, cost again can increase.

Windows are sometimes called the eyes of your home, and deserve a lot of attention when planning.

With frame materials, vinyl is starting to catch up to aluminium in popularity. Although both offer similar durability, vinyl provides lower heat transfer, resulting in a more energy efficient home.
Single hung windows are prevalent in Cayman, but casement windows have better ventilation as the whole window area can be opened up. Casement windows also have lower air leakage rates than sliding windows, saving energy in the home.

Safety is another factor to consider. Casement windows can serve as an emergency exit more easily, as opening the window opens the entire space, rather than just half the space, as with a single or double hung. However, the drawback of casement windows lies in cost, as these tend to be come with a higher price tag.

Depending on the look of the home, any style can work, but Larry believes it is usually better to opt for the simplest design.

“For me, I like plain, especially if you have an ocean view. I’ve seen people with beautiful views and then they start cutting it up,” says Larry.

There are also various tints available for the glass itself as well as such options as low-e films that help reflect heat and keep the home cooler, especially when used with double-glazed windows.
Regardless of which style you end up choosing, put plenty of thought into the windows and doors of your space. After all, these simple fixtures have the power to transform your home.