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Front doors: Better to go custom or big box stores?

Answered by Brendan ~ April 12, 2011 ~ Comments

I need to replace the whole package. Transom, side-lites, and door (fiberglass) along with all the trim inside and out. House is 11 years old. Door, Transom and side-lites are in good shape but the wood is bad and has leaked inside. Have patched over the years. The builder did not use the proper wood when the house was built and many homes in the neighborhood have the same issue. Lowe's tells me my door is 1/4 inch too small and I need to go with a "custom" order through them. My gut is screaming run to another Lowe's. Question is...is it really worth my time should I go with the specialist? If I do need the "custom" Lowe's door the $$ difference will be about $2,000 is it worth it?

Sabrina ~ Newark, New Jersey

Brendan Fowler

At the very least, before I ordered anything from any store, I would have a contractor that has extensive experience replacing doors and a custom door shop come look at your front door. No matter how knowledgeable someone is working the door and window aisle at a box store, there are going to be things specific to your install that cannot be assumed or advise given without seeing the door first. I am having a hard time understanding what kind of wood could have failed so badly that it could have caused leaks. Generally, when a door leaks it is because of improper installation -- for example, improper flashing, the wrong kind of threshold, lack of weather-stripping, or the wrong kind of door for the application. Another thing that concerns me is a cost of $2,000 to change the door size one-quarter inch. That does not sound right: get a door contractor out to your home for a second opinion. I know I would not spend $2,000 on anything I was not sure of without getting a second opinion. Good Luck!

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