Franklin Window & Door Blog

Can I Replace My Front Door Only and Not The Decorative Glass on the Sides?

January 8, 2020

Want to change the look of your front door but after receiving estimates for $10,000 or even $15,000 you decide it is out of your budget?

Generally a single entry door replacement can range from $3,500 to $5,000 but if your front entry door has glass on each side of the door (called a sidelite) or glass above the door (called a transom) then the price to replace your front entry system can be $10,000 or more.

Many of our clients want to:

  1. Update the look of their home
  2. Increase curb appeal
  3. Cut down on maintenance of an older front door but do not have the budget to spend $10,000 and more on a new front entry system.

This leads to the following questions:

  • Can I replace just the door and leave the current sidelites and transom?
  • Can I replace the glass in the sidelites and transom but keep the current door?
  • What options do I have to update my current front door but stay within budget?

These are all great questions!! Lets look at some options!

Can I replace just the door and leave the current sidelites and transom?

Absolutely! BUT, there are some factors to consider when choosing this option.

  • It is likely that your current door is not perfectly plumb, level & square (fancy construction terms) that indicate whether your door will function well and seal up tightly against wind, rain, snow, etc. This means even if you are buying a brand new door, if the opening is not perfect, then you may still have issues like air leakage and difficulty with functionality.
  • You will need to examine the frame and sill (also called the threshold) of the current entry system. If you have wood rot or damage to the existing frame or sill, then a new door is essentially a temporary bandaid. It might look nicer but it is likely you will have functionality issues. Another important consideration if your frame/sill is wood and has rotted over time, you could have hidden damage to your subfloor (the structure under your flooring) and this damage needs to be addressed.
  • Not all new door panels/slabs/ leafs (all common door terms) will work in your existing frame. For example if you have a Therma Tru fiberglass door system but select a new Provia fiberglass door slab it is very likely that the two will not be compatible. This is typically due to the fact that every manufacturer makes their doors slightly differently. This could equate to gaps between the slab and frame causing significant air and water leakage.
  • Another important detail is your hardware. You will need to ensure that you new door slab/panel is prepped to match the frame exactly or the door will not function properly. This includes hinge placement as well as where your hardware (deadbolt, knob or lever) is placed.
  • If you do decide to replace only the door slab and not your entire door unit, definitely request new weatherstripping for your new door slab/panel. Although not a perfect solution, it will help with air and water tightness.

Can I replace the glass in the sidelites and transom but keep the current door?

Most likely! As long as the glass is serviceable (the glass can be removed) then this is an option. Many glass companies offer this service. They probably have several decorative options to choose from as well.

What options do I have to update my current front door but stay within budget?

There are some "big bang for your buck" options for updating your front door while staying in budget.

  • Put in some " Sweat Equity " Tell your contractor or door supplier that you are willing to do the painting or staining of the door yourself after the installation.
  • Be Flexible on the style you replace with. It's likely that you will be limited on options that fit perfectly into your existing opening. Most doors have a " standard size " option that keeps the cost down but may not be an exact fit for size.
  • Stay away from "Specialty or Decorative Glass". Most doors today are built without glass and then altered to accept the glass. When you add specialty or decorative glass, it adds cost to the manufacturer which adds cost to the consumer. Specialty glass such as frosted or decorative can double the cost of the door.
  • Paint your existing door. Update the look of your home by giving your existing door a fresh coat of paint with a new, fresh & fun color.


Questions to Ask Yourself:  ↓  Some very important questions we ask our clients when they are trying to decide whether to replace their front door:

  • How long do you plan to stay in your existing home?
  • Is this your forever home?
  • Are you getting ready to sell your home?

All of these questions can help you decide whether you should consider making the investment in a new front entry system or simply make a temporary fix such as refinishing your existing door or replacing only the door slab/panel.

Still not sure what is the best option for you and your home? Check out some of our other blogs about front doors.

Or download your FREE Front Doors EBOOK

Would you like to discuss your front door project with a door specialist, give us a call at 317-993-3660 or click below

Contact Us for a Showroom Consultation Here

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