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Ken and Zoe Moore's front door was a bigger challenge for their builder than the kitchen cabinets were.
It cost more than three times as much as typical doors in their high-end Wrenwood subdivision in Monclova Township. But the 100-plus-year-old door, with a leaded beveled-glass window that fills the front of the house with interesting light patterns, is everything they wanted.
“The entryway coming into the house is the first thing you see, and we wanted that to represent the house,” said Mrs. Moore.
Although her door is unusual, her desire for an entryway that makes a statement is not.
Doors wider than standard size are hung in about 15 percent of new homes, up from about 5 percent 10 years ago, said Gopal Ahluwalia, spokesman for the National Association of Home Builders. By the end of the decade, he predicted, builders will hang wider doors in 20 percent of new homes nationwide.
A greater interest in the look of front doors has been building for years.
In the 1990s, front doors started getting taller. Todd Berman, president of Berman Building Co. in Sylvania, said his firm's typical door has grown to 31/2 feet wide and 8 feet tall from the standard 3 feet wide and 6 feet, 8 inches tall.
In the 1980s, builders of upscale homes began to take more interest in wooden doors. Both those trends have held steady nationwide, Mr. Ahluwalia said, citing his association's member surveys.
That means far more people are spending more money on front doors. Although builders charge an average of $1,500 for a standard-width door, a larger door is often $3,000, Mr. Ahluwalia said.
Almost every customer commissioning a $250,000 to $350,000 house from Decker Building Co. asks about the possibilities of a big, remarkable door, said Brad Greeley, construction superintendent.
“I think it's contagious. When they see one person do it, it really piques the interest,” he said.
But when buyers hear the price for such doors - often more than $4,000 - many stick with Decker's standard Fiberglas doors, which cost $600 to $1,500.
No more than 5 percent of homes built in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan are fitted with front doors that cost more than $2,500, said Dave Rupert, who opened a franchise of EntryPoint Door Transformations LLC in January.
There is, however, a small but devoted market for very expensive front doors.
Architectural Artifacts Inc. once sold for $10,500 a mahogany door with leaded-glass windows that came out of a 1905 home in Lima, Ohio.
Even mass marketer Home Depot has residential doors on its special-order list for up to $10,000.
Its most expensive front doors in stock are about $500 and Michael Henry, who works in the Secor Road store, said the priciest door he's sold was $5,200.
He said he's noticed a trend in the past year for buyers to spend 15 to 20 percent more on a front door, solely for the look, than they would have even a year ago.
But several builders said spending on front doors has held steady after jumping five to 10 years ago.
Mr. Rupert of EntryPoint is betting that even if home buyers don't spend much on front doors when they have a house built, they'll wish they had.
The market he sees for new oak and mahogany doors with flanking windows is largely in Monclova and Sylvania townships and scattered tony subdivisions.