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Does my entry door need a threshold?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ August 14, 2013 ~ No Comments

What are the alternatives to a threshold for entry doors? We are replacing our front doors and we already have a continuous floor look in the foyer and entry door area. Thank you!

-Holly

Jeffrey Anderson

Holly, there are alternatives to the standard thresholds normally found at front doors, but just about all front entry doors are designed to swing on hinges. When this door style opens, there must be a slight gap at the bottom to allow easy operation. Thresholds are designed to close that gap -- which can be significant if there is hardwood or thick carpet and padding in the foyer area.

In many parts of the country, snow and the occasional heavy rain can also be an issue. A properly installed threshold provides a barrier to prevent moisture from entering the home from under the door. Lastly, many thresholds allow minor adjustments to prevent air and moisture intrusion when door slabs shrink and expand as the seasons change or their bottom sweeps begin to wear.

If you live in a very temperate part of the country, you may not have a great need for a front entry threshold. However, it would be important that the exterior walkway that leads up to the door slopes away from the house. Even an occasional rain can run inside if the slope is toward your home and there isn't a barrier. It would also be a good idea to have some sort of extended porch overhang to provide weather protection for the front entry area.

As far as door types that are available without thresholds, if you want a swinging door, a custom configuration may be your only choice. Many door companies sell replacement slabs to be used with existing door frames and thresholds, but they can also be used to build an entryway. Most experienced carpenters or general contractors would have the knowledge to construct a front door frame that could accommodate the slab without the use of a threshold. However, they may want something in writing that you won't hold them liable if moisture enters your home under the door.

There are exterior door styles that don't have thresholds, but they are usually more suitable for patio or deck passageways. Higher end sliding doors can be purchased with a recessed track that is very inconspicuous and pivoting or retracting window wall doors are often installed without a threshold.

If you want the best of both worlds, consider a front entry door with an ADA or low threshold. Almost all front door manufacturers offer the design, but they may be special order. They can be much less noticeable than the standard configuration.

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