Similar in hardness to woods like pine, alder typically ranges in color from pale pinkish-brown to darker shades of reddish-brown. Over time, with exposure to the sun, alder will additionally yellow and darken. For those interested in investing in a new exterior door, this article will outline the pros and cons of choosing alder.
Costs of Alder Doors
Alder is an abundantly grown resource, as it is able to flourish in areas where other wood species cannot. As a result, alder exterior doors are usually less expensive than most other wood types, and typically range from as low as $350 to $900 and up.
Although alder itself is not endangered or at-risk, many homeowners have concerns about the environmental impact their new door may have. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) now offers customers the option to purchase alder entry doors certified as sustainably grown and harvested.
Durability of Alder
Alder is classified as a softer hardwood, which means that it is more easily scratched or dented. Because of their relative softness, alder exterior doors are also less resistant to harsh or humid weather. Without extensive protection and maintenance, an alder entry door will be far more prone to decay.
How to Treat Your Alder Entry Door
Alder's softness makes it more difficult to treat than with other hardwoods. Since it often yellows in the sun, alder doors are usually finished with stains and glazes. Luckily, exterior alder doors stain exceptionally well, offering homeowners the opportunity to imitate more expensive wood species, such as mahogany. Because the wood dents easily, it's also recommended that homeowners distress their alder entry doors first, so that accidental dings blend nicely with the grain. For a smooth finish, alder doors should be sanded both before and after treatment to remove any dents or defects.
Repairs and Maintenance
While all wood doors can be sensitive to changes in weather and humidity, alder exterior doors are especially sensitive. Homeowners should examine their entry doors annually to see if they need repair or maintenance.
Energy Efficiency and Tax Credits
Wood doors are usually not as energy efficient as other entry door options. Solid exterior alder doors have little insulating value – they typically have an R-value between R-2 and R-3 for 2-3/4” thick door. However, many manufacturers can add an insulation core to the door panels, raising the R-value to about R-5 or higher.
Summary: A Solid, Long-Lasting Choice for Your Home
Alder is an economic and readily available alternative to other common materials used for exterior doors today. Although its relative softness can result in more dents, taking the proper steps to treat your door will allow alder to lend its natural, rustic look to your home for years to c