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How to Choose the Right Basement Door

Wednesday May 1st, 2024
As homeowners, every decision you make for your home is important and should be well thought out—even when purchasing a new basement door. Buying a new door seems simple enough, but there are a few significant things to consider: 

Basement Door Considerations

  1. Area
  2. Materials
  3. Design
  4. Security
  5. Weatherproofing
  6. Energy Efficiency
  7. Accessibility 
By considering each of these factors before purchasing a new basement door, you ensure that the door you buy is exactly what you need for your space. Otherwise, you may need to replace it sooner than you like because it doesn’t meet your home’s needs—both functionally and aesthetically. 

How to Choose the Right Basement Door: 7 Factors to Consider 

Choosing the right basement door is important for both the function and appearance of your home. Here are seven key factors to consider to ensure you make the best decision.

1. Area 

One of the first things to do before buying a new door is to look at the area and ask yourself what the main function of the door will be. 

Interior vs Exterior Doors
For starters, will it be an exterior basement door or an interior door? This is important to differentiate because exterior doors are more durable and energy-efficient in order to withstand the elements. 

If you were to use an interior door as an exterior door, you may need to replace your door sooner than you’d like because the door isn’t designed to withstand harsh weather patterns. Even if it does hold up, it may be less energy efficient and cost you more in the long run with higher energy bills. 

Next, you’ll want to measure the door opening and determine the door size you’ll need for the area. If you are replacing an old door, carefully compare the dimensions to avoid potential gaps or sizing issues with the new door.

Before installing an interior barn door, check the space above the door and on both sides of the opening. If the overhead space is limited, you may need to use low clearance barn door hardware.

Door Function
While evaluating the area, consider how you want the door to function. For a hinged door, decide whether it should swing outward or inward and whether it should swing to the left or to the right.

By thinking about all these little details, you’ll be more prepared when you go to purchase a door and the type of hardware you’ll need. These are all questions you’ll need to answer when ordering a custom door through Rustica, so knowing these things beforehand will save you time. 

2. Materials 

After you’ve thoroughly inspected the doorway, it’s time to start considering the door itself. One of the first things to ask yourself is, “What material do you want the door to be made from?”

In general, you can choose between wood or steel. Each has its own functional and aesthetic benefits. 

Wood Doors
Wood doors offer a more traditional design, and are ideal for more rustic, mid century modern, cottage, or farmhouse style basements. Solid wood doors are highly durable, and make exceptional exterior doors. Overall, wood has a more comforting and cozy aesthetic than steel. 

Steel Doors
Steel doors are highly durable and strong, making them tough to damage or dent. They excel in environments with debris, as steel is more resistant to impacts and does not absorb moisture like wood, ensuring greater durability. With proper care and maintenance, they can last for many years. Given these qualities, steel is an excellent choice for exterior storm doors.

Aesthetically, steel can vary in style. Metal doors are typically considered to be a more modern, minimalist, and industrial design. However, steel fits in perfectly with metal French doors, which are a classic design. 

Glass Doors
You’ll also want to consider whether you want a glass window on your basement door. If so, you’ll want to think about the glass type. For exterior doors, you’ll need to use low E or double-paned glass to increase the door’s energy efficiency. Consider obscured glass to increase privacy without sacrificing natural light.

3. Design

Before choosing a new basement door, consider the overall design goals of the basement. What is the interior design style of your basement?

Are you creating a home bar with rustic or Western-inspired furnishings? Perhaps you need a modern basement entry door for an entertainment room for family movie night. On the other hand, maybe you need a new interior door for a home office or guest bathroom. 

There are a number of possibilities for your basement design, and you want your basement door to reflect the overall style of the space. Whether you have a finished basement or you’re undergoing a home improvement project, the new basement doors you choose should blend seamlessly with the overall design. 

The best way to ensure your new basement doors match the space is to custom design them. With Rustica, you can choose a door design you love and add all the finishing touches to make it your own. Choose between wood species or metal type, door texture and paint color, custom hardware, and more. 

4. Security 

Security is important for any exterior door with direct basement access. Burglars often check patio and basement doors for easy access instead of the front door. Therefore, it's important to have strong locks on your exterior basement door to make sure it’s secure.

Exterior basement doors should be fitted with a two-locking system, and one of the locks should be a deadbolt. This security feature will make it much harder for thieves to break the lock. You should also consider outdoor lighting for basement entry doors, as well-lit areas dissuade potential burglars. 

Security is also important for interior basement doors that lead to bedrooms, bathrooms or safes. Guests will feel much more comfortable if you add a lock to the guest bedroom and bathroom doors. 

When designing a custom basement door with Rustica, you’ll have the option to add hardware to your order. At this point, you can choose the locking system that works best. 

5. Weatherproofing 

If your walkout basement needs a new exterior door, it's important to weatherproof it. Basements, especially those with outside doors, are vulnerable to flooding, so sealing these doors against water is key.

Start by choosing a high-quality exterior door that includes weatherstripping. To block water from entering under the door, add a door sweep, under-door seal, or door threshold. 
Both wood and stainless steel make strong choices for exterior doors—just make sure they are built to endure the elements and are properly sealed or stained.

6. Energy Efficiency 

Weatherproofing your exterior basement door isn’t just to prevent water from seeping in—it can also reduce drafts. When you properly seal the gaps around your basement entry door, you keep your air conditioning and heated air inside, preventing energy loss. This keeps your home’s internal temperatures stable so that your heating or AC unit doesn’t have to turn on as frequently. 

Solid wood and stainless steel exterior doors are also highly energy efficient, as both materials are natural insulators. They create a solid thermal barrier for your basement. Proper installation is key to maximizing these benefits; ensure that the door is correctly aligned and sealed to prevent any air leaks

If you're considering windows for your exterior basement door, like those on basement patio doors, it's important to pick an energy-efficient glass. Just like weatherstripping, energy-efficient basement windows can prevent cold or hot air from seeping out of the basement, lowering your energy bills.

The most energy-efficient basement windows are made with insulated glass. Insulated glass is a broad term to describe a few different types of glass, including Low E glass, gas-filled glass, and heat-retention glass. Insulated glass units (IGU) specifically refer to windows or door glass with two or more glass panes divided by an air space, including double glazing windows (also known as double pane windows). 

The purpose of insulated glass is to improve thermal insulation performance. Home windows are often made of insulated glass windows for energy efficiency. Large exterior basement doors with glass can benefit from insulated glass units. This includes soundproofing, UV ray reduction, improved safety and security, and versatility.

7. Accessibility 

Before finalizing your basement door, you’ll want to consider accessibility. For this, think about the people who will be accessing your basement through your basement entry door

You’ll want to make sure door openings are large enough to accommodate people of different sizes. If you’re renting out your basement, you’ll need to make sure your exterior basement doors are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. 

In order for your basement doors to be ADA compliant, they’ll need to be large enough for a wheelchair to pass through and the door handles will need to be picked with easy operation in mind. If you need your exterior basement doors to accommodate wheelchair users, you’ll need to assess the area around the door as well to make sure there is direct access to the entrance. 

Is there enough space for a wheelchair to safely operate around the doors? How easy are the doors to access? Consider putting in a ramp for direct basement access, if necessary. 

On the other hand, if storage areas occupy the majority of your basement, you’ll want the exterior basement door to be large enough for large items to pass through. Again, this comes back to thoroughly understanding the purpose and function of your basement. This way, you can choose the perfect door for your needs. 

5 Types of Basement Doors

Now that you’re aware of all the important things that go into purchasing a new basement door, it’s time to think about what type of door and style you want for your space. Most likely, you already have a vision of what you want. But by reviewing these door types, you’ll be even more confident about the door your space needs.

1. Barn Doors 

Barn doors are one of the most popular and stylish door types in modern interior design. Barn doors slide along a track mounted to the wall above the door, rather than swinging on hinges as traditional doors do. 

Barn doors offer a rustic appeal, and are ideal for large openings. However, they also work great for small openings depending on how much space you have on either side of the wall. 
They also vary in size, number, and function. You can choose between large or small barn doors, double barn doors, triple bypassing barn doors, French barn doors, and bifold barn doors

Barn doors are a popular option for closets, laundry rooms, and pantries. For example, Rustica’s Decorative Wooden Mirror Barn Door would make a stylish and functional closet door. It features a full-length mirror with a classic wooden frame. 

Barn doors are also perfect for areas where you want separate but cohesive spaces, such as between a game room and theatre room or between a dining room and kitchen.

To create two cohesive spaces, you’ll want an impressive barn door that matches the room’s style. The True Barn Door is a perfect example of this, and features multiple vertical wooden panels with a prominent wooden header and bottom rail. 

2. French Doors 

Consider French doors if you’re looking for a stylish walkout basement door. French doors are defined by their prominent windows that run the length of the door. These windows are divided by metal or wooden grilles to honor the traditional French style.

Because French doors are mostly glass with a wooden or metal frame, they make wonderful basement patio doors. For example, the Tillage Exterior Door is a beautiful French door featuring a large window with a square metal grille pattern. The metal grille pattern is the focal point of the door, and is divided into 24 squares. The door has a thin metal frame that doesn’t distract from the beauty of the metal grilles. 

Imagine the Tillage Exterior Door walking out to a finished basement patio area. Coupled with sophisticated patio furniture, you can create a lovely setting for a summer evening for you and your family. 

As interior doors, French doors are ideal for basements that receive plenty of natural light. In this case, they make great office doors or entertainment room doors.

3. Exterior Doors 

As mentioned above, strong and durable exterior doors are the key to ensuring your outside basement door keeps your basement draft and water-free. To give you an idea of what an exterior basement door could look like, consider Rustica’s Lake House Front Door. 

The Lake House Front Door features a prominent nine-panel window separated by thin wooden grilles. The bottom of the door has two raised panels separated by stiles and a bottom rail. 

This half-glass front door is an elegant, classic design perfect for colonial-style homes, including Cape Cod, Dutch, Georgian, and more. 

The Lake House Front Door shows that you can have a strong and durable basement entry door that is still stylish and aesthetically appealing. Just because a basement door isn’t the front door, doesn’t mean it should be any less beautiful. 

4. Interior Doors 

A finished basement wouldn’t be complete without interior doors for bedrooms and bathrooms. As such, you’ll want to choose interior doors that match the interior design style of the basement. 

For warm and rustic-styled basements, check out the Two Panel Interior Door. This traditional hinged door is perfect for any basement room, including bedrooms, bathrooms, storage areas, closets or even an office.

This wood door features two large recessed panel sections that aren’t individual panels—rather, the recessed area is made up of several slender vertical panels. These sections are divided by a central horizontal rail and are framed by stiles and rails. Featuring clean lines and straight edges, this door doesn’t have traditional molding that most classic paneled doors have, making this a versatile door that would fit a variety of design styles. 

5. Wine Room Doors 

Basements are great for wine rooms because they are naturally cool and dark. As such, wine rooms are popular in the basement, but the key to a proper wine room is getting a wine room door. 

Wine room doors aren’t like typical interior doors—rather they are more similar to exterior doors. This is because wine room doors need to have higher insulating performance to prevent temperature fluctuations within the wine room. Proper wine storage means maintaining a cool temperature, so the last thing you want is a drafty wine room door that lets in warm air. 

Most wine room doors are made from solid wood because solid wood is naturally insulating. Many wine lovers pick a door with stylish window features to show off their collection, like the Hudson Wine Room Door

This hinged interior door features a large square window on the top two-thirds of the door. The bottom part of the door has a wooden X framed by stiles and rails, giving it a rustic appeal. This door is crafted with your wine room in mind, meaning it is secure, stylish, and has a high insulation performance. 

Design the Perfect Custom Basement Door Today 

Before buying a basement door, it's important to consider several factors to ensure you make an informed choice. This includes evaluating the space to determine the type of door you need, selecting the materials you prefer, and defining your overall design goals.

Purchasing a basement door also requires you to consider your door’s security, weather readiness, energy efficiency, and accessibility. Once you have all these details finalized, you’re ready to start designing your custom basement door. 

To find the perfect custom basement door, check out Rustica’s extensive selection of handcrafted exterior and interior doors. We offer a variety of door types, including traditional hinged doors, barn doors, Dutch doors, French doors, wine room doors, shower doors, and more. Go ahead and start designing your custom basement door with Rustica today! 

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