How to Select the Perfect Front Door with Sidelights

A front door with sidelights is an excellent way to allow more light into your home, achieve greater curb appeal, and receive an elegant daily welcome home for yourself.

Because entryways are such a focal point of our homes, researching and feeling comfortable with your choice makes sense. How do you decide what the front door to your home should look like?

front door with sidelights - estate door and sidelites with leaded glass

Regardless of whether you’re replacing an existing door or deciding on an entryway for a new home, consider these factors to help you select the perfect entry door with sidelights. Even if you decide against sidelights, this article will still help you in pursuit of a front door that fits your home.

First, what exactly is a front door with sidelights? Sidelights are narrow sections, most often with glass, placed to the side or sides of a door. Their design, size and glass options can be customized to create a distinct entryway. You can select a solid door or a door that also includes glass for more light.


If you’ve researched doors with sidelights, you may have noticed the alternate industry spelling of “sidelites”.  Both terms refer to the same thing.


Here are six factors to selecting the perfect front door with sidelights: Style, Size, Wood, Security & Privacy, Energy Efficiency, & Cost

Style:

The Style of Your Front Door Speaks to Your Home’s Personality

old world plank door with side lites
How do you want to present your home to visitors? Custom-built front doors with sidelights empower you to let your home tell its own story.

For example, craftsman-style doors embody elegance in simplicity, where old-world-style doors use sturdy hardware accents and deeper, distressed finishes.

For inspiration and ideas for your home, see examples of different styles on our website.  Every door you see can be custom-built for your home with one or two sidelights. We work alongside you and your architect or builder to design a made-to-order entry door with sidelights that makes a statement for your home.

Size:

How to Select the Size of a Front Door with Sidelights

large craftsman doorsEven though you want your entryway to “stand out,” there’s a balance to be maintained. Your front door should complement your home – not overwhelm it or underwhelm it either. So its size must match the scale of your home. Your architect can offer insight on the size of your entryway so that it becomes a focal point for all the right reasons.

It’s the same for your sidelights. Sidelights should complement your front door, not compete with it. Sidelights are often half the width of your front door (or less). We can help you design a front door with sidelights that presents a cohesive welcome for your home.

Remember, if you are replacing an entry, you must consider the size of the unit you are replacing along with additional costs if your opening size will need to be adjusted. We can advise you on that as well.

Here are just a few examples of front doors with sidelights we’ve designed and built for fellow homeowners:

With more than 300 examples, you’re sure to find a front door with sidelights that perfectly matches your home’s size and scale.

old world door with transom
A beautiful and grand entrance featuring multiple transoms and custom beveled glass.
contemporary 21-lite wood door
Wood:

When Building a Front door, Not All Wood Is Equal

french country rustic door and sidelitesCustom entry doors can be made from premium hardwoods or paint-grade woods. Prefabricated, paint-grade doors covered with a stamped sheet of metal,  plastic or fiberglass are also an option. All of our doors are handcrafted in America and not mass produced or imported.

Front doors that are custom made from hardwoods can be stained and sealed, so the grain of the wood is visible. Not all door makers use the same types of wood, nor is the wood similarly selected and prepared.

If you’re considering a custom hardwood entry door, ask the manufacturer questions about wood selection, preparation, and build process.

Our stain-quality doors use kiln-dried hardwoods like mahogany, knotty alder, cypress, northern red oak, ash, maple, antique heart pine, or other woods of your choice. All of the woods we use have a moisture content between 6% and 8% to eliminate warps and splits.

Because all types of wood naturally expand and contract when exposed to weather, we created a unique design that allows for sections of the door to expand and contract within the door. This way, the door opens properly and doesn’t leave open joints, or cause strain on the door or the frame.

Learn more about selecting the right type of wood for your front door in our blog post: What Type of Wood Is Best For My Door?

Prefabricated front doors with sidelights that are sheathed with stamped metal,  plastic or fiberglass are also available from big box stores. These entry doors are built with lower quality wood cores because the wood is not exposed to the elements. Metal doors require painting to prevent rusting. (Some of these doors even have fiberglass or particle board as the core instead of wood.) Stained and finished wood doors are generally more expensive but offer a more elegant look on a fine home than prefabricated options would on the same home.

Security & Privacy:

Fit Your Need for Security and Privacy in Your Front Door

As a homeowner, you may wonder about the security of an entry door with sidelights. It should be reassuring to learn that front doors with sidelights can be just as secure as front doors without sidelights.

estate traditional exterior entryThere are several ways to improve the security of a front door with sidelights, like installing hurricane impact glass that can withstand high winds and blunt force. You also have the option to add good exterior lighting, motion sensors and doorbell cameras as well as good door hardware and locks. It is also true that most home burglaries occur at the rear of the home not the front door.

If security and privacy are concerns, consider a design with glass only in the top third of the door and sidelights.

Another option for privacy is to use stained or textured glass, so daylight can pass through without a direct line of sight.

There are many options for safety and privacy without sacrificing aesthetics and finish. However, another possibility for security and privacy while still allowing daylight to enter is a solid entry door with a transom and no sidelights.

A transom is a window that stretches across the top of a door. Transoms of all shapes and sizes can be included on front doors with sidelights or without.

Energy Efficiency:

Front Doors with Sidelights Are Energy-Efficient with the Right Materials

Doors and windows are often the sources of energy leaks in a home. Energy-conscious homeowners know that insufficient seals around doors and windows can cause air, heat, and cold to pass through. Wood has been found to be a better insulator than metal or fiberglass.craftsman radius top double doors

We build and ship the front door with sidelights as a unit (called “pre-hung”) that includes top-tier weather stripping and thresholds – and even hardware.  That makes installing your front door with sidelights easy, and energy-efficient.

When making glass selections for your entry door, consider glass with insulated coatings like Low-E or filled with a gas like argon. All of our leaded glass pieces can be triple insulated, so they are energy-efficient and beautiful.

To see a wide range of leaded glass designs, visit our leaded glass products page.

Cost:

How to Manage Your Costs When Selecting Entry Doors with Sidelights

How much does a front door with sidelights cost? The answer is, “it depends.” As you research options, keep in mind that several factors impact the cost:

  • The size of the entry door with sidelights. Custom single doors, double doors, and entry doors with sidelights and transoms are built to order and come in various sizes. Make sure you know how to measure a front door with sidelights (call us if you need help) to make the right choice for your home and your budget.
  • The materials used. Custom wood entry doors can be made from different types of wood – some more rare and expensive, others more common and cost-efficient. Also, stain-grade materials are more costly than paint-grade materials. Last, prefabricated entry doors with metal or plastic veneers will cost less than custom wood doors.
  • Use of glass. If you choose to not use glass in your exterior front door your cost will generally be less. The price will also be impacted by the type and quantity of glass used.
  • Custom vs. prefabricated. Custom entry doors will cost more than prefabricated front doors.

If you’d like to discuss how to replace a front door with sidelights in your home, call us or complete the form below. We’ll take the time to understand your needs and design a front entryway that welcomes you and guests into your home for years to come.