Steel Entry Doors: Know Before You Buy

Steel Entry Door on House

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Steel doors are often found in commercial buildings but less so in homes. Wood and fiberglass are the two most popular materials for residential entry doors. Yet steel doors can be used for your home and they offer some remarkable advantages such as resistance to rot and decay, strength, and fire resistance.

What a Steel Door Is

A steel door is not solid steel. Steel doors are comprised of either a polyurethane or polystyrene core with a steel skin over the top.

A solid steel door would be prohibitively heavy and would likely tear out the hinges. Steel between 16 and 24 gauge is used for the skin of the door. A wood frame surrounds the perimeter of the door. None of the polyurethane or polystyrene is visible on the edges of the door.

Other than the weight factor, steel and most metals are remarkably good conductors of heat and cold. Thermal conduction is not a desired quality for a door. The polyurethane or polystyrene core acts as a thermal barrier.

Cost of a Steel Door

The cost to install a steel door, materials and labor included, begins at around $750 and ranges up to around $2,500. The average cost to install a steel door is around $1,600.

The cost of a steel cost itself, materials only, begins at around $200 and ranges up to $1,500. The average cost of a steel door is about $850. The cost is for a steel door pre-hung in a frame with no glass lites.


A lite, when referring to a door, is a glass panel fastened in the door, much like a window. Lites can also separate components to the side (sidelites) or above as transoms.

Where to Install a Steel Door

Steel doors can be installed between interior and exterior areas, but mostly they are used as entry doors that lead to the exterior.

Steel doors are typically installed between houses and garages. When steel doors are installed in interior-to-interior spaces it is because of a need for security or fire protection in one of those areas.

5 Factors to Consider When Buying a Steel Door


Steel entry doors are often recommended due to their strength. But steel doors can hold up against intruders as much as quality fiberglass or wood doors. So, it's usually not worthwhile to buy a steel door only for security. Intruders find many other avenues into a home other than breaking through a front door.

If a steel door is hung in a steel frame, it will be more secure than a wood, fiberglass, or steel door hung in a wood frame.

Door Cut-Outs and Alterations

Make sure that the door has all of the cutouts that you want. If you buy a solid door and then later decide that you want a window or a pet door, you'll find that it is very difficult to cut through the door. Hiring a door installer will be the best way to add cut-outs to a steel door.

Door Coating

Steel doors come shipped with a factory-applied primer that is ready for manual painting by brush or spray gun. Others have an additional PVC vinyl layer adhered to the steel skin which gives the door a certain look or color, typically woodgrain. PVC vinyl layers are hard to paint if you later decide that you want a different color.

Local Climate

Steel doors are on par with fiberglass and wood for resisting weather. So, if weather-tightness is your main concern, don't look to steel doors simply because of this factor. You're better off installing a storm door in front of the steel door to resist against the weather.

Dents and Scratches

If you have a dog or other pet that likes to scratch doors, steel doors should resist this type of scratching. But when it comes to metal-on-metal scratches, steel doors definitely will take a beating.

Removing those scratches is possible, though. A scratched steel entry door can be sanded and then repainted to bring it back to like-new condition.

Should You Buy a Steel Entry Door?

  • Strong outer shell

  • Fire resistant

  • Weatherproof

  • Secure

  • Limited styles

  • Heavy

  • Difficult to alter

  • Scratches hard to fix

Steel doors have a strong outer shell that is difficult to damage if an intruder were attempting to break through the door itself. The steel skin is impervious to most attempts to break through it. Unlike wood doors, steel doors will not rot or decay because the steel covering is inorganic.

Most steel doors are fire-rated. Steel doors with a 20-gauge skin may be said to have a 20-minute fire rating. For specifics, consult the fire rating sticker on the door itself. Do not assume that all steel doors are fire-rated. Most building codes require that a fire-rated door is installed between the house and the garage.


Architectural-grade or commercial steel entry doors can be quite heavy. But many steel doors found at home centers can be as light as 55 pounds, including the frame.

Steel doors' outer shell does not permit sanding and filling with wood putty in the event of scratches or dents. Yet steel doors can be repaired by filling the dents and sanding down to a smooth, paintable surface.

  • Are steel doors better than wood doors?

    Steel doors are better than wood doors in some ways: fireproof outer shell, resistant to rot and decay, and difficult to break. But wood doors have a natural charm that is difficult to duplicate in a steel door. Wood doors can be stained or painted, but steel doors can only be painted.

  • Are steel doors harder to break into?

    Steel doors are harder than wood or fiberglass doors to break into for intruders attempting to break directly through the face of the door.

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  1. How Much Does it Cost to Install a Steel Door in 2023? Lawnstarter

  2. How Much Will It Cost To Replace An Entry Door On My House? Unified Remodeling

  3. How Much Does It Cost to Install a Steel Door? Angi

  4. How Much Do Steel Doors Cost? Pinky's Iron Doors

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