Reviewed: The Therma-Tru Pulse Fiberglass Door

Therma Tru Pulse Door
Therma Tru Pulse Door. © Therma Tru

What This Is

A new pre-hung fiberglass door in the Pulse line of "modern" and vintage or "retro" doors built by a company called Therma-Tru.  I had one installed several years ago and this is a review of it.

Your Style:  Mid-Century or Contemporary

If you happen to like mid-century modern style or anything even remotely related to it--Bauhaus, International Style, The Brady Bunch, Mad Men, cocktails, Julius Shulman, Taschen, Eichler Homes, Eames--then you might be a candidate for a Pulse door or similar.

The problem with buying a true MCM period-piece door is that it has endured decades of weathering and abuse.  Unless it has been extensively restored, you probably do not want it.  Also, commodity doors from that period can be cheap, thin, and poorly made.  

Therma-Tru's Entree Into the World Of Mid-Century Doors

  • Company:  Therma-Tru is a Maumee OH-based company that has been in the business of doors since 1962. In their company literature, they say that they created the world's first fiberglass entry door around 1988.
  • Pulse:  Until 2013, they had been putting out a fairly benign, unexciting product. Therma-Tru doors are all about staying well within the status quo, not pushing boundaries. Then, in March 2013, the company released their Pulse line of entry doors. These doors are meant to capture some of the Mid-Century Modern craze for crisp geometric shapes, sharp angles, simplicity.

Advantages

I like fiberglass doors--as long as they don't try to imitate wood-grain.

Unlike real wood, they don't need constant maintenance and regular refinishing. Unlike steel, they don't weigh a ton. Fiberglass doors are insulated. So as long as the seals are tight--as they should be on all pre-hung doors--this is one point you won't have to worry about heat escaping from.

Also unlike wood doors, they will not expand or contract or warp even one millimeter. For insurance or house-sale purposes, they qualify as security doors.

Pulse offers an array of designs, all with glass inserts. Each glass insert is either a single long rectangle or several small squares. Do they look like they could be from 1967? You bet. I fully expect Mike Brady to walk through one of the Pulse doors, blueprint under his arm.

Glass styles are great--well, five of them. If you're going retro, you only want clear or textured plain glass. These are: Clear, Chinchilla, Rainglass, Granite, and Chord.

Disadvantages

The trim that edges the glass should be flat, angular, plain. It should fit in with the geometrical, squared-off spirit of the Pulse door.

Instead, the trim has a rounded, swoopy profile. It looks just like those cheap trims you buy off the rack at Home Depot. Someone at Therma-Tru must have been asleep at the design wheel when this decision was made.

More likely, they decided to pull out the same old/same old trim used for other doors instead of going the extra mile and coming up with the right stuff. If you're any kind of purist, you'll find this disappointing.

On top of this, the glue used to affix the trim to the door (it's also held by screws) was sloppily applied. Dried glue oozed out from under the trim. Sure, it wasn't much, just a number of small areas. But why did the purchaser have to spend 20 minutes with an X-Acto knife, carefully excising this glue?

Cost

I paid $1,180.50 for this pre-hung door: materials only, no labor, (including hinges, but no other hardware).