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What are the benefits of a front door canopy?

An over door canopy brings with it a range of benefits to help you protect and maintain your front door. Especially if you want or need exterior wood door protection. But what exactly is a front door canopy and why can it be such a valuable addition to your property – and your time? Read on to learn more.

What's the difference between a door canopy & a porch?

A front door canopy provides cover and protection, usually by sitting directly above your door and giving an overhang which projects from the front of a building.  This overhang, depending on its size, can offer beneficial shelter against rain, sun and wind.

A bit like an umbrella for your door. 

Occasionally, a door roof canopy can be created by the roof and soffit too (see our the gallery for an example) but often a door canopy will be a standalone fixture fitted above the door.

A porch on the other hand is often more enclosed – it can have sides, pillars or windows but it can also be a completely enclosed space with a door of its own.

A door that is set well back from the front face of the building but with an open front (also in the gallery), might be considered a type of porch/canopy hybrid. If you are building or renovating from scratch, this type of front door protection is useful to plan into your design.

However, a standalone canopy can still provide a simple, effective solution if you want to add additional protection to your front door. See below for more examples of different canopy & porch styles.

Why might a canopy or porch be recommended when considering a new front door?

Allowing for a canopy to be designed into your house elevation early on can help to provide sun protection for your front door as well as protection from wind and rain. This means:

1. Less maintenance and more shelter

Most importantly, any protection provided for your door will reduce the amount of maintenance you do over time.  This applies to all door finishes including liquid metal doors, steel doors, painted doors, lacquered and - especially - oiled hardwood doors.

If a door that is covered by a large canopy doesn’t get any rain or sun on it, then in most cases it is completely protected from exposure and weathering.

However, if the door only has a small overhang of 500mm or so, then it would disproportionately get rain and sun on the bottom half of the door and it would therefore weather more than the top half.  Making sure the entrance has an overhang that extends to a suitable distance so that it’s protecting the whole of the door is a good way to keep maintenance to a minimum.  

The main example where the above wouldn’t apply as easily would be if you live in a very highly exposed location, by the sea for example, where you are naturally more open to the elements and in that particular case have the added measure of corrosive saltwater to consider. In these locations, a more robust covering like a partially or fully enclosed porch would be recommended if low maintenance is important to you.

Learn more about door maintenance here.

2. Makes a pivot or a flush doorset a reality

Doors with a pivot opening or doors that are flush (where the door sits flat in-line with the frame) would always require a canopy to protect them as they cannot be fully weather-sealed in the same way as a hinged doorset.

Pivot and flush doorsets ideally need overhangs that cover the whole door in its entirety as this will help to prevent water ingression. 

3. A canopy or porch can be a design feature

Canopies are usually designed into a house elevation at an early stage but even if they aren’t, there are so many design ideas available for canopies that they can be a really straightforward feature to add in.

Zinc, steel, glass, Corten (weathered steel) and stone are just some of the materials used to make them.  It’s definitely worth designing a canopy as not only a functional piece but a beautiful addition to your front elevation.

What if my house design doesn’t allow me to have an overhang or canopy?

If for any reason you are not able to have a canopy or porch to protect your door, it’s very important to make sure that the door you choose is finished to withstand weathering as much as possible and that it is also the correct door type for its location on the building.

The option with the most protection in this scenario would be a hinged, rebated door in a painted finish.

A lacquered (clear sealing coat) finish can also work for natural hardwoods – the door will still need maintenance, but much less than that of an oiled finish (which soaks invisibly into the wood rather than adding a clear layer over the top).

What are the best hardwoods for doors in exposed locations? 

Lighter colour hardwoods like oak, iroko and cedar perform better in exposed locations, as they tend to preserve more of their original colour when exposed to UV rays from the sun.

On the other hand, darker woods like American walnut and especially fumed oak have more potential to lighten, especially if they are overly exposed to the sun.

Good canopy or porch protection as discussed in this article can significantly help in preventing this. As an added prevention measure, it’s also possible to stain these darker woods before they are lacquered/oiled to give excellent long-term colour preservation.

Should you add a front door canopy to your home?

Not every house or door needs a canopy or porch. However, if you're planning a new build, replacing or renovating your front door and especially if you have, or are thinking about, a pivot or flush style door, this feature should play an important role in your plans.

Considering how to best protect your front door from the natural elements will ultimately help you to preserve its condition for longer - the more protected, the less time and frequency you'll need for maintenance!