All About Decorative Exterior Glass Doors

decorative exterior glass doors

Decorative exterior glass doors are one of the most effective and economical ways to enhance the curb appeal of your home. The trend of using decorative glass to create dramatic entryways continues to grow as homeowners choose to stay in their homes longer and remodel for future sale.

Beyond aesthetics, a new entry door with decorative glass can add value to a home. According to a national home valuation study conducted by Therma-Tru® and TNS, an independent research organization, simply installing a new entry door has been shown to increase the perceived value of a home by more than $24,000 on average.

Manufacturers offer a wide array of choices for entryways incorporating decorative glass doorlites, sidelites, transoms and more. These choices allow you to create a custom look for your home and also make a statement about your personal sense of style. Many of the newest designs are also built with durability features to ensure that your home’s beauty and functionality lasts for years. Entries that incorporate decorative glass also offer the added benefit of allowing more sunlight into your home without energy loss, making for a more attractive, more energy-efficient interior. Some of the most stunning designs are even available in impact-rated versions that provide added home security and protection from severe weather conditions, such as high winds and heavy rain.

Before entering your local showroom to look at decorative exterior glass doors, there are several things you can do to make the process easier. Here are some tips to consider when choosing a decorative exterior glass door for your home:

Familiarize yourself with common building terms.  As you choose an exterior glass door to complement your entryway and see the many options that are available, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the various terms used by door manufacturers. Here is a quick glossary of some of the most often-used terms to make your selection process easier.

  • Transom: A framed glass assembly mounted atop a door assembly. Transoms are rectangular in shape or have curved or arched tops. One design of a curved top transom has the shape of a half-ellipse.
  • Sidelite: A fixed narrow panel installed next to a door panel for decorative purposes. Sidelites almost always contain glass lites.
  • Low-emissivity (Low-E): Glass which has been factory coated with a thin layer of material, nearly clear, which acts to absorb and reflect heat and light energy.
  • Came, Caming: Formed metal stripping, usually made of brass or zinc plated steel, used between cut-glass pieces to assemble the pieces into a decorative glass panel. Caming is soldered at joints to bond the glass assembly together.
  • Doorlite: An assembly of frame and glass panel, which when fitted to a door in a formed or cut-out hole, creates a door with a glass opening.
  • Double-Glazed: Outfitted with two panes of glass with a sealed airspace between.
  • Tempered Glass: Glass sheet which has been strengthened by heat processing. When broken, tempered glass shatters into small pieces without sharp edges.

Complement your home’s architectural style.  A home’s architectural style often dictates the best door for the façade, and there are plenty of decorative glass options available to complement the most popular home designs. Some of the newest glass designs are also very affordable. For example, if you have a Victorian-style home, Therma-Tru Doors offers Central Park™ decorative glass featuring an intricate frosted glass pattern reflective of the extraordinary homes of the Victorian era. If you have a traditional-style home, a door with Kensington™ decorative glass might be a good choice. The glass features a center cluster design comprised of clear bevels and glue chip and granite glasses, creating a beautiful focal point for the front entry.

Visualize how a new door will look on your home.  If you’re not sure which architectural style your home is, or if you want to visualize how a particular door and glass combination might look after it’s installed, Therma-Tru has created an interactive Door Designer tool available online at

With the click of a mouse, you can “try on” several suggested entryway possibilities to find the right door and glass for your home’s architectural style. Whether you seek the old-world charm of the Classic-Craft® Rustic Collection™ for a Spanish-inspired home or desire to see how to personalize your entryway with beautiful decorative glass sidelites, the Door Designer makes the process easier. Simply select from a range of home scenes including Bungalow, Colonial, New American, Modern, Ranch, Country, European, Coastal, Spanish or Victorian for the one that best resembles your home’s architecture. The Door Designer will then recommend the best Therma-Tru door styles for your home so you can create a look uniquely your own.

After you’ve selected an entryway design, the Door Designer provides a summary of the door components including product style and decorative glass options so you can print out the details and bring it to your local door and window dealer for selection of your decorative glass entry door and components.

With a little advance planning, it’s easy to create an eye-catching entryway that will make a striking first impression for visitors and prospective home buyers, whether you plan to sell your home in the near future or down the road. In the meantime, your home will be a pleasant place to live in as you bask in the light of your beautiful exterior glass door.

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