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Beautiful wooden front door framed by windows

Whether you’re planning a new build or remodel, windows and doors play a major role in boosting curb appeal. They also impact the beauty, comfort and efficiency of your home.

Many homeowners today are gravitating toward large openings for abundant natural lighting, enhanced by attractive framing in a variety of customizable designs. It’s important to choose high quality materials that can withstand the ravages of mother nature and the wear and tear of father time.

Let’s take a look at some of this year’s best materials and design ideas for your windows and exterior doors.

Exterior Doors

From the outside, your front door and other exterior doors must make a strong first impression. On the inside, they help to keep you comfortable and your energy bills low. Here are some of the most common materials for exterior doors:

  • Wood: A sturdy wood door gives almost any home a classic, elegant feel. Oak and mahogany are the strongest varieties, offering durability and scratch resistance. Other good choices include maple and pine. Wood requires regular maintenance and tends to be more expensive than other materials. 
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is a lightweight, cost-effective alternative to wood. It offers moisture resistance and is easy to clean. Vinyl may be vulnerable to high impacts, so look for a model that’s built to withstand high winds. 
  • Fiberglass: Lightweight and strong, fiberglass is less expensive than wood but costs more than vinyl. It gives you energy efficiency, durability and simple maintenance. 
  • Steel: A safe, secure option, steel is heavier than other materials. For steel doors that are exposed to direct sunlight, foam insulation protects against overheating. Steel is affordable and easy to maintain but may be vulnerable to denting. 
  • Aluminum: Aluminum is durable, customizable and lighter than steel. It can be painted or stained, and maintenance is simple — just wipe with a damp sponge! Aluminum is also recyclable, making it an eco-friendly option. 

Popular front door styles include craftsman, mid-century modern, traditional and rustic. Glass elements can be incorporated to maximize your view to the outside and to let in more natural light. Your handle set, deadbolt and doorbell offer functionality and complement the look of the door. Common door lock finishes include steel, brass, bronze, copper and gun metal.

All exterior doors must be well-insulated to protect against hot and cold temperatures. Look for durable, impact- and scratch-resistant models backed by long-lasting warranties. 


As with exterior doors, you’ll want to select high performance windows that look fabulous and enhance your home’s comfort and efficiency. Here are the most common types of windows found in homes today: 

  • Double hung windows feature two sashes that open vertically from the top and bottom. They’re aesthetically appealing and great for air circulation. 
  • Single hung windows open from the bottom sash, while the top remains stationary. They’re an affordable alternative to double hung windows with a similar appearance.
  • Casement windows operate by turning a crank and are hinged to open outward. They let in lots of natural light and can be customized for the desired appearance.
  • Awning windows are hinged at the top and open outward. They can be installed above, below or alongside of other windows and promote air circulation. 
  • Picture windows are large stationary windows that let in lots of natural light and give you a great view of the outdoors.  
  • Transom windows are mounted above a door or larger window to let in extra light. They may be stationary or operable. 
  • Slider windows open horizontally by sliding along a track. They’re easy to open and close and are a great choice for modern or contemporary homes.  
  • Fixed or stationary windows don’t open, allowing in light but cutting down on drafts for better energy efficiency. They can be customized for a variety of shapes and sizes.  
  • Bay or bow windows curve outward and add interest to your home’s appearance. They provide abundant natural light and are a great place to grow indoor plants or herbs.  
  • Skylights bring in natural light to enclosed rooms. Options include fixed or casement windows. Advanced models are leak-proof and may include remote controlled blinds. 

Along with choosing the best type of window for your project, you’ll also need to select a material for your window frames.

  • Aluminum: Aluminum is sturdy and impact-resistant, making it a good choice for storm-prone areas. It can be painted in a variety of colors or powder coated and stained to resemble wood. Occasional cleaning with specialized products helps to prevent rust. 
  • Vinyl: A good option for DIY projects, vinyl can be fabricated to almost any size and shape, and features an energy efficient honeycomb structure. It never needs to be painted but may be difficult to paint over if you ever decide to change colors. 
  • Fiberglass: Strong and durable, fiberglass can be fabricated to resemble wood and is easy to paint. It’s also an eco-friendly material that offers excellent energy efficiency and noise insulation.

High quality window glass is critical for regulating light, temperature and noise levels. The National Fenestration Rating Council lists four key window performance categories to look for. 

  • U-Factor: This indicates how well your window prevents heat from escaping the room during the winter, and the lower the number the better. Look for something between 0.20 and 1.2. 
  • Solar heat gain coefficient: This tells you how well the window resists heat gain during the summer. Look for a number between 1 and 0, and the lower the better. 
  • Visible transmittance: This measures the window’s ability to let in natural daylight, which can save money on lighting. Look for the highest number you can find on a scale of 0 to 1. 
  • Air leakage: As the name implies, this is an estimate of how much air enters the room through a closed window. The lower the number, the less drafty the window will be. Choose something between 0.3 and 0.1. 


At Mid-City Lumber, we are happy to help you choose from a wide selection of quality doors, windows and other building materials. Contact any of our locations in Columbia, Boonville, Jefferson City, Sedalia or our state-of-the-art Design Center in Osage Beach for expert guidance on your next project! Need a special custom door for your project? Ask any of our staff about our Custom Door Shop.