Iron vs steel doors – some of the most durable doors you can purchase for your home, and they make perfect sense for the main entryway due to their high resistance to break-ins, the elements, and normal wear and tear.
However, which one is best? Which type of door will give you the most value for your money, and which one will leave you disappointed in the long run?
In this guide, we’ll go over what makes each door type unique, and then we’ll see how their traits stack up against each other in both the short and long term.
Let’s get started with helping you find the perfect front door for your home.
Iron doors, or wrought iron doors, are doors made from wrought iron, sometimes coated in a protective material, and usually outfitted with glass panes for visibility and decoration.
Iron doors aren’t usually cheap, but they are known for lasting multiple lifetimes with little maintenance, and their use goes back past the Victorian era.
Wrought iron doors are also easily manufactured and tend to be available in a near-infinite variety of design patterns.
In most ways, you’ll find that an iron door is probably the best type of door on the market with very few exceptions.
Steel doors are a more modern invention. While steel has been around for centuries, it wasn’t seen as a great door material in the residential sector until just decades ago, and it wasn’t a commonly used material until even more recently. However, it’s here, and it’s here to stay.
This is for a number of reasons.
While not quite as robust and reliable as wrought iron, and certainly not as elegant and traditional as solid wood, steel doors provide a highly durable door option at a very affordable price point.
This is largely due to how much steel is produced in the modern world over traditional wrought iron. It’s become cheaper to produce, easier to get a hold of, and more easily recognizable as a worthwhile material.
However, it does lack behind its iron counterpart in most ways, but we’ll get to that in the following section. Spoiler alert: sometimes cheaper isn’t better.
Iron vs steel doors are comparable on the surface level. Unless you really do your research, you probably wouldn’t think there were any major differences to consider and would just go with the cheapest option that looked good.
However, that’s not the best way to do it. Here is how the two stack up against each other.
Price isn’t everything, but it is important. After all, a door can be perfect, but if it costs too much for you to afford, it is no longer an option.
This is the one area where iron doors fall behind steel doors. A wrought iron door can easily cost $5000 or more if you go with a decent option, and even the cheaper doors cost around $3000. That means even a basic iron door costs roughly twice as much as the highest value wood door. In comparison, a steel door can cost as little as $200 or as much as $1000. Even the nicest steel door is only one-third the cost of a cheap wrought iron door.
However, you need to look further into it than just the initial investment, and you’ll see why in the following comparison.
You might save a ton of money upfront by buying a steel door, but in the long run, a wrought iron door is the better investment.
A steel door can last up to 30 years, but it will be high maintenance. They tend to rust easily when exposed to water without a protective layer, and that can easily force you to replace a steel door as early as a year after the initial purchase; although, that is admittedly a rare occurrence. They will almost always last longer than five years even if you completely neglect them.
A wrought iron door will last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Rather than rusting and developing integrity-ruining damage, a wrought iron door forms a patina or a slight, rainbow-like film that adds charm to its appearance and prevents the much more serious damage that eats away at metal as rust does. Not only will your door look better with age, but it will protect itself, too.
Doing the math, let’s say you cut the price range in the middle and buy a $500 steel door. You do what most people do and rarely take care of it, so you end up replacing it due to heavy rusting every five years. In 40 years, you’ve spent $4000. Depending on which iron door you would have purchased, you’ve now spent as much or more than you would have spent on a wrought iron door; except, with the steel doors, you’ve had to put hours of your time and energy into removing the old door and installing a new one. If you’ve opted for professional installations, you can take another $150 onto the price of each door, too.
In the end, wrought iron doors last a lot longer, and you’re highly unlikely to need to replace them before you pass your home on to your children or otherwise move. With a steel door, you might squeeze a decent lifespan out of it, but you’re likely to buy multiple doors if you’re anything like the average homeowner. In some cases, your cheaper steel door might need to be replaced faster than a used car.
First, a wrought iron door is practically indestructible. Besides the glass panes included in some iron doors, you can treat it roughly and it’s highly unlikely to be damaged. So, the day-to-day wear and tear that it’s likely to go through isn’t anything to worry about.
In comparison, a steel door is in no way as resistant to damage as a wrought iron door. Something as simple as dropping a couch while moving new furniture in, can put a sizable dent in your door; let alone something like an aggressive intruder trying to get inside. Hopefully, that isn’t a problem for you, and you can easily use a bit of caution to avoid most of the dents from day-to-day use, but what if something like a hailstorm happens? Your door can go from a smooth, beautiful finish to looking like the surface of a golf ball, and that’s a likely occurrence in most living environments.
Both doors struggle in one area, though; water exposure is horrible for these metal doors.
Steel doors are rarely coated, and sometimes, they’re not even painted. So, a few good rainstorms without any sun to quickly dry them off, and your door can develop rust spots that damage the door’s structural integrity. These spots can be repaired, but the repair methods often cause unsightly blemishes that ruin your home’s curb appeal and look unappealing in general.
Iron doors are also susceptible to water damage if their protective layers are worn off or they aren’t dried quickly. However, there’s a big difference. Under most circumstances, iron doors won’t develop rust. They’ll develop a patina. This is a discoloration caused by oxidation on the iron’s surface. This thin layer protects the iron and prevents further water damage from eating through the iron and destroying it. Once a patina forms, caring for your iron door is pretty easy.
Finally, there’s another way these doors differ in terms of durability. Every time you open and close your door, there is friction at the hinges and any other point where the door makes contact with something else.
With steel doors, that friction wears away at the door and causes grinding. Over time, that can cause your door to be difficult to open and close, leave gaps between the door and the seal, and produce an annoying noise every time you open the door.
Iron doors have a high graphite content, and this naturally lubricates the surface of the door; reducing friction and eliminating any reason to worry about the door’s points of contact with the frame and hinges. This is a small detail that is often left out when discussing the topic, but it makes a big difference 5-10 years into ownership. Especially on a door that will be opened and closed as often as your front door.
The durability of your door also translates to how secure it is. With a wrought iron door, the only way a thief is breaking in is by damaging the wooden frame around it or picking the lock. Using brute force to contort the door and render the lock useless isn’t an option.
With steel doors, even relatively weak bumps can damage the door. For someone trying to use brute force to get the door open, this is a good thing. The more easily bent and contorted metal can be jammed around locks, the hinges can break free, and any number of other things. While the average thief isn’t going to do something that loud and attention-grabbing, it is something to consider.
Iron doors win in this category, too. However, it’s not because steel doors are ugly or prone to becoming ugly regardless of your efforts. Instead, it’s due to the manufacturing process.
Metal doors are molded. It’s the easiest and fastest way to manufacture a metal door and keep prices low without sacrificing quality. Naturally, that means whichever metal is easier to mold is going to have more options available. In this case, that is iron.
Steel isn’t easy to mold into a door. It lacks the moldability necessary to make small details and intricate designs. As a result, you’ll find that your choice of design elements is very limited. Most steel doors are little more than a basic slab with perhaps a few large squares molded into them for cosmetic design.
In contrast, iron doors are highly moldable. Iron can be melted down and poured into extremely intricate molds without sacrificing the structural integrity of the door. So, when you search for an iron door, the options are nearly limitless and you can choose the perfect custom iron doors for you.
Aesthetics don’t matter to everyone, but if you’re trying to match your existing décor or make a statement with your curb appeal, an iron door is going to be your best bet every time.
Both of these types of doors are metal. So, they’re not lightweight and easy to install on your own, and we honestly wouldn’t recommend taking the DIY route with either of them. It’s easier to have a professional team install the door and get it done right the first time.
However, you will notice that most steel doors are hollow and slightly lighter; making them a little easier to install on your own.
Again, this shouldn’t be a major concern since it’s best to shell out a small fee for professional installation.
As you can see, there is a clear winner in this showdown between iron vs steel doors. Steel doors are inexpensive, but they’re nowhere near as good as iron doors in every other category. For this reason, it’s hard to recommend a steel door to anyone. Iron doors are more durable, more reliable, and overall, just better. So if you are in doubt which front door you should choose, iron front doors are your best option. That said, steel doors can still be an option if you’re on a very tight budget and need a door asap.
In any other situation, an iron door will serve you much better than a steel one, and it’s best to invest in a high-quality iron door the first time, saving you money and headaches in the long run.
If you’re in the market for a wrought iron door, check out Wholesale Iron Doors, today.