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custom front door design(ARA) - The next time you drive through an upscale neighborhood in your community, take a good look at the front door of the homes that catch your eye. Chances are quite strong that they will all have beautiful doorways that seamlessly integrate with the architecture of the home.

Custom doors are a great way to personalize a home and make it stand out in any neighborhood. On most homes, it's the one feature you can see both day and night. So whether you're planning to stay in your current home or, perhaps, build a new one, a custom entryway can dramatically enhance its curb appeal and add significant value.

So once you decide to add or install a custom door, where do you begin?

Start by measuring your current doorway and take note of any excess space you may have for additional features, such as sidelights or transoms. Custom simply means, "made to order" and doors can be built in just about any size or shape. Some features, however, will require a minimum amount of space. Sidelights, matching full or partial windows placed vertically alongside a door, generally require a minimum of 14 to 18 inches each to accommodate framing and moulding. Transoms, windows placed horizontally above a door, require about the same amount of space. If your entryway has enough room, one or more of these extra features can dramatically enhance any home.

The next thing to do is choose a style. If your home's resale value is a concern, and it probably should be, then you'll want to make sure the entryway fits with the rest of the home. One trick is to cut out a photograph of an entryway you like and then hold it up while standing in front of your home. Magazines can be a great resource or you can save time by visiting the Web site of a custom door manufacturer, like Simpson Door Company ( You may not find exactly the door you want, but you will find examples of just about every style ever conceived. Once you've selected a style, then you can really begin to customize your door.

"We've seen a significant increase in the number of homeowners upgrading to custom doors both inside and outside their homes," says Jim Brandt, of Simpson Door Company. "So, we've added a user-friendly checklist and sketch pad to the Custom Door page on our Web site to help make the process easier for homeowners."

Choosing materials and colors are probably the next decisions you should make. While there is quite a selection of steel and fiberglass doors on the market, nearly all of them are mass-produced and cannot give you the unique character of a custom wood door. Wood is attractive, durable and energy efficient, and doors can be made with virtually any species of wood. Many custom doors are made of softwoods like Douglas fir, pine and Western hemlock or traditional hardwoods like mahogany, red oak and cherry. Some manufacturers even offer some species of exotic wood. Each species has its own merits and beauty.

Decorative glass is an option that also can add a lot of class and character to a custom door, but you may want to think about the layout of your home before deciding what kind you want. Will your neighbors see your family running past the door in the morning on the way to clean clothes left in the dryer? Do you have a clear view of the door from your favorite chair and, if so, how do you feel about strangers seeing you lounging in your T-shirt when they come to the door? There are still a variety of ways to incorporate the beauty of glass panels in a custom door without sacrificing privacy. The type and styles of glass panels are endless, and you can choose from textured, semi-transparent or even leaded stained glass panels for your door.

Finally it's time to think about how you are going to install your new custom door. If you are constructing a new home, then your builder can install it when it's ready. If you are replacing the entryway of your existing home, then you should probably consider hiring professional help. Replacing a front door is a job beyond the skill of most do-it-yourselfers, particularly if it involves installing a new doorjamb or adding new elements like sidelights or transoms. If so, most custom door retailers offer installation assistance or can help you find a qualified professional near you.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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