The main variable in choosing the size of your wrought iron doors will be determined by the space available in the house for the front entrance. If you are remodeling an older home, that opening is likely to be smaller than what is being installed into many new homes. Particularly if you are restoring a home from the early 20th century, single door sizes were often closer to 28 inches wide and only 6 feet tall. Remember, the average size of a man in those days was rarely taller than 5’5”. Oversized furniture, giant TV screens and king sized beds hadn’t yet been imagined. The objects being brought through the doors were based on diminutive proportions such as modest settees and single beds. The size of the original entry door, however, may be small that the space available for your replacement. You will need to measure the actual space available in the framing to determine the maximum size. You should also consider bringing the entranceway up to current codes, for both convenience and safety reasons.
If you are remodeling your home you may be limited to simply replacing the exact size door you currently have. If the space available allows you to accommodate a larger door you will need to hire a general contractor. Installing a pre-hung door is not too difficult, but it does require that you follow a procedure. Most wrought iron doors have jambs with welded mounting lugs to make installation easy and simple. After the jamb is bolted into the building, the doors are simply lifted onto the hinge pins and the job is done. However, a wrought iron door may weigh 300 pounds, so while it’s technically easy, it will take two strong men to maneuver the door into position and lift it the few inches to place upon the hinge pins.
Changing the dimensions of your opening will definitely require a contractor. You may also need to get a building permit to make such a change. If you decide to make a major change there can be many options. For instance, a single exterior door with sidelights could be replaced by a set of double wrought iron doors. Or it could be replaced with a larger single door and a single sidelight to one side. Double doors can fill the entire space but they can also feature a significant amount of glass – increasing the amount of light that enters the home. Wrought iron doors usually have windows that can be opened from the inside also – bringing fresh air into the home as well as light. In terms of return on investment, a large and impressive entryway gives a huge bang for the buck. It dramatically increases curb appeal and puts much more value on the home than the cost of the remodel.
If you are building a custom home you have almost unlimited options for your choice of your entryway. Grand entranceways are paramount in creating an impressive home exterior and foyer. The entryway sets the tone for the whole house and, with wrought iron, the solidity and beauty exudes prestige and quality. Any other material cannot exceed the variety of designs available in wrought iron, so you can be sure of having an entryway that matches your own taste and style.
In addition to the doors themselves, another important consideration when designing a front entrance is the addition of a transom and sidelights. A transom an architectural window feature that is directly above the door and contiguous with the door frame. Transoms are used to bring more light into the home and to extend the height of the door unit, while still keeping the door height within reasonable limits. Similarly, sidelights are architectural window features on either side of the door and contiguous with the door frame. These, again, allow the creation of truly impressive entranceway while keeping the door widths within a reasonable limit. Sidelights often have separately opening windows to allow more fresh air when you want it.
One also needs to consider the top shape of door. There are three standard choices for most wrought iron doors, they are: Straight top, Eyebrow top, or Arched top. If you choose a transom to go above your wrought iron door, it can also have choices of top shape. A transom above a straight top door can have any shape. A transom above arched or eyebrow top doors will usually follow the shape of the door top.
Standard heights differ for each top shape:
Straight Top – double and single doors: 84″ high.
Eyebrow Top – double doors: 96″ high, single doors: 84″ high.
Arched Top – double doors: 108″ high, single doors: 96″ high.
To allow room for installation and adjustment, the rough opening size should be about 3/4 inch larger than the overall size of your door unit. If you have hired a contractor to do your renovations, he or she will need to measure the ‘Rough Opening’ size. A door unit is the wrought iron door pre-hung in a jamb, plus whatever sidelight or transom choices you have made. All wrought iron doors are purchased with the jamb included. If purchasing from Donatello Doors, the Door Jamb and integral steel threshold are about 2″ wide, so the overall size of the unit will be 4″ wider and taller than the doors. Many other companies do not provide an integral steel threshold and so you will need to know the height of the threshold you will install in order to know the overall size.
When framing a door opening, you must account for both the jamb/threshold size plus the allowance for installation. So a 72″ x 100″ door will require a 76.75″ x 104.75″ rough opening.
Most building districts adhere to the International Residential Code, which requires the main entry door of a house to be at least 36 inches wide and 80 inches high. The IRC doesn’t place restrictions on any other exterior door, however, and lumberyards do stock other sizes. The most common widths are 30, 32, 34, and 36 inches. Exterior wrought iron doors seldom are shorter than 80 inches, but you can easily find doors readymade that are 7 and 8 feet in height.
How to Decide the Correct Jamb Depth
The Door Jamb (sometimes called the frame) is what the door is hung onto and what gets secured into the house framing. The jamb bears the weight of the door through its hinges. The Jamb is installed into the building first and the door is hung onto the jamb. The jamb also includes the doorstops and weather stripping. On a single door it also holds the striker plates for the latch and deadbolt.
The jamb depth is dependent on the thickness of your wall. The four options are, 4″, 6″, 8″ and 10″. You should choose a jamb depth that matches the thickness of your wall.
For instance, a wall constructed of 2 x 4 studs will usually require a 6″ Jamb. For a wall constructed of 2 x 6 studs an 8″ Jamb is more usual.
The doorjamb on all Donatello wrought iron doors includes an integral steel threshold. This is not typical in the door industry but is considered essential at Donatello. The reason is that most thresholds are made from aluminum and there is an electrolytic reaction between steel and aluminum that cause corrosion where the two metals connect. The corrosion can occur on both metal surfaces, which can be very bad. This problem is also much worse in coastal areas where the air can be salty.
The Threshold makes a termination point for flooring and is an important part of any weatherization system – including the drop seals (bottom sweeps). All these components need to work together to ensure good weatherization and smooth operation. The bottom of the door is the primary place where heat can be lost and cold seeps into the home. The Donatello difference includes unique dual drop seals that are twice as durable as any other in the industry. Having an integrated threshold also prevents water seepage under the door and will bear up to a lifetime of hard use.