Don’t Get Overwhelmed! Check Out Our Guide To Choosing The Right Doors & Windows For Your New Home

Don’t Get Overwhelmed! Check Out Our Guide To Choosing The Right Doors & Windows For Your New Home 1200 1799 White Sands Design/Build

You make a lot of decisions when you custom build. You may find yourself thinking about things you’ve never considered before, like doors and windows.

Do you know what type of windows are in your current home? Are your doors solid wood, wood clad, steel, or aluminum? What door and window options are even out there?What building materials best match your architecture style

These are questions that most of us can’t answer, but when you build your beach house, these questions will come up.

Dutch farmhouse front door with window

3 Things to Think About When Choosing Windows & Doors

1. Budget

Certain materials, such as wood clad, are more affordable than others, such as aluminum when it comes to your home’s door options.

2. Architecture Style

Wood doors are much more style appropriate for a Mediterranean or Spanish house than aluminum or steel, while metal doors work well for an industrial or modern house.

3. Type of Door

 If you want specialty doors—like a Dutch, barn, pocket or glass door—in your new house, you will want to pay careful attention to your manufacturer.

Wood Clad Doors & Windows—An Affordable Option

Wood clad windows and doors are:

  • Affordable
  • Energy efficient
  • Aesthetically-pleasing
  • Low maintenance

Wood clad products have a tough fiberglass exterior and a wood interior that can be painted any color. They are less likely to rot than a solid wood door and generally come with a 20 year warranty.

Our Favorite Wood Clad Window & Door Manufacturers

  1. Sierra Pacific products are made in California, from sustainably-grown California timber. If you need a quick turnaround, they’re one of the fastest suppliers we’ve found.
  2. Weather Shield  rivals Sierra Pacific in terms of quality but comes in more style and color options.

Floor to ceiling door in renovated Spanish bungalow kitchen

Wood clad is a great look for traditional homes, such as Plantation, Colonial, Cape Cod, Cottage, and Craftsman. 

Sierra Pacific and Weather Shield give you high return on your investment, dollar for dollar. However, you may sacrifice customization with these brands, since higher priced options offer more flexibility and specific features.

Solid Wood Doors & Windows

Usually we go with custom made, solid wood front doors for their heft and aesthetic advantage. But using solid wood for every door and window in your home is a pricey option that requires upkeep.

Double French doors framed in solid wood in entryway of Mediterranean mansion

Why Choose Solid Wood?

The biggest reason to choose solid wood is architectural authenticity. If you are restoring a Spanish bungalow or building a Mediterranean house that hews true to style and materials, you may choose solid wood for its Old World charm. Otherwise, you will probably want to go with wood clad.

Solid Wood Is High Maintenance

A beach climate presents specific challenges for wood, because of the corrosive nature of salt.

  • Check for rot and warping every six months.
  • If your wood door is south facing, it will fade in the sun. Even if you pressure wash regularly, you’ll need to touch up your paint or stain at least once a year.

Aluminum Windows & Doors—An Attractive, Low-Maintenance Option

An aluminum window or door is highly durable and requires less maintenance than wood or steel options.

Aluminum doors:

  • Come in a wide range of finishes and glazes.
  • Have a light, seamless appearance.
  • Are lightweight but can be strengthened with alloys (mixed with other metals) to hold up large, heavy pieces of glass.
  • Are low maintenance and don’t require touch-up painting, staining or ongoing maintenance, beyond an annual professional cleaning and a bi-annual pressure washing.
  • Look great on modern houses and industrial houses.

Aluminum windows and doors are more expensive than wood clad doors, but if your new house is modern, they are worth the cost. However, aluminum is more challenging to incorporate into traditional architecture.

Our Favorite Aluminum Window & Door Manufacturers

  • Fleetwood is the flagship manufacturer of aluminum window frames and doors.  They were the first company to bring these products to market, and their name has a certain cache. Fleetwood offers a lot of variety for specialty door systems, such as oversized doors, pocket doors, sliding doors, and folding doors.
  • Kolbe has also been making aluminum products (as well as wood clad products) for a long time. They have plenty of style options and a good modern line, making them one of the most versatile door and window suppliers out there.
  • Western has some great offerings and may be more affordable than Fleetwood or Kolbe.

Steel Doors & Windows—Our Top Choice, If You Can Afford It

Steel doors and windows are the most minimalistic option, meaning they blend more seamlessly with the exterior of your home than other materials. Steel has other advantages, as well.

  • Steel is so strong that a razor-blade thin piece can hold a lot of weight. This makes it a great option for floor to ceiling windows or oversized glass doors.
  • Steel has low sightlines. Sightlines are the amount of frame that is visible around the glass from the exterior of your home. With steel, this border is more narrow than in other styles.
  • Like aluminum, steel doors work best on modern homes. 

Top story of modern beach house with floor to ceiling window and door that opens onto a patio with a view


Steel has a few drawbacks, though.

  • Using steel for every door and window is expensive. Often we use steel for a front door or other prominent doors and windows, and we use aluminum for the rest of the home.
  • Steel is high maintenance at the beach. If you don’t clean the salt regularly, your frames may start to pit and corrode.

Our Favorite Steel Door & Window Manufacturers

  1. Euroline is our top choice for steel products, particularly if you are using steel for specialty doors.
  2. Torrance Steel, a local product manufactured in the South Bay, is a more budget friendly option.

4 Things To Consider When Choosing Doors & Windows

  1. For a window facing a busy street, we recommend triple paned glass to help with soundproofing.
  2. If security is a concern, choose steel for all of your exterior doors.
  3. Thicker interior doors help protect against sound transfer, but there are other ways to deal with that, as well. We can help you figure out sound issues via drywall and insulation, if you want to go with thinner doors.
  4. Want to protect your furniture from UV rays? If the door and windows manufacturer that you choose doesn’t offer a protective film, we can have a third-party apply an anti-UV coating, to keep your rugs, art and furniture in excellent condition and prevent sun fading.

The Nitty-Gritty on Doors & Windows

Soliciting advice from experts is always the best plan, but here’s the run down:

  • For a traditional home, the most inexpensive, low maintenance option is wood clad windows and doors. The high end (but also high maintenance!) option is solid wood.
  • For modern homes, the inexpensive, low maintenance option is aluminum windows and doors.  The high end, higher maintenance option is steel.

If you need to know more or have specific questions, please get in touch. White Sands Design Build has built a variety of traditional and modern  homes in a beach climate. As the premier custom home builders in Manhattan Beach, we would be happy to talk with you about custom building your South Bay beach house.

Thanks for reading,

Mike Capobianco

Michael Capobianco is a founding partner and the head of construction at White Sands Coastal Development. He’s a jack of many trades (finance, brokerage, property management) and a master contractor, with a keen eye for design. In his downtime, you can catch him strolling Manhattan Beach with his dogs.