Is replacing a rotted entry door sill a five-minute, five-hour or five-day job?

It depends.

A quickie stopgap approach is to scrape out the rot, pack with filler and see if longer screws can hold the sill firm. A more sensible option is to completely replace the damaged sill with a new assembly, including a sill flashing made from a flexible membrane installed to allow water to drain to the exterior. In either case, it’s best to track down what caused the rot in the first place and make sure it’s not part of a far larger water infiltration problem.

Then there’s the ultimate sill solution: Go wood-free.

Devon Miller knows all about sills and doors. As head of global supply chain procurement for Georgia-based Harris Door and Millwork, water-damaged sills are a callback and warranty-claims pain he avoids. They’re bad for business.

“Old school sills were just a piece 1x6 piece of oak or mahogany with a rubber bulb strip,” Miller recalls. “It works okay at first but you know it eventually rots or warps.

“By the 1990s extruded aluminum seals were available with a wood substrate and wood cap above. It was a little better than the old system. But wood always makes it a risky bet,” the 30-year industry veteran observes.

Breakthrough Material

Miller was relieved to see composites enter the picture in the 2010s. The material science is convincing. Composites hit the performance sweet spot for building product manufacturers, contractors and homeowners:

  • No rot or warping
  • Little or no maintenance
  • High durability
  • Minimal heat or cold transfer
  • Color options and effective color holdout
  • Good screw holding strength
  • No aluminum sweat concerns

Miller understands the aesthetic appeal a hardwood sill may have … and definitely the lure of price. “Three to five years out, a homeowner may see the first signs of a doorway problem. The dollars the builder or contractor saves with wood comes back to bite the consumer. A replacement exterior door system could cost $5,000 or more,” Miller estimates.

Why Risk It?

In Miller’s view, it’s not worth the callback risk or reputation harm, especially when composite alternatives are price competitive. Any dollar differential should be seen as performance insurance that benefits everyone.

The team at Harris Door and Millwork specifies only composite sills for exterior door systems. Does it matter then, what composite sill manufacturer the door maker partners with? Aren’t all composite sill assemblies alike?

Not at all, according to Miller.

A Cut Above

“I’ve been in this industry long enough to have visited many door and window companies,” Miller explains. “I’ve seen the testing and development labs of most of the big-name players. You know what’s funny? One of the most impressive R&D facilities I’ve seen for door performance isn’t even a door and window manufacturer.”

The supply chain expert singles out Endura, a maker of door components, as a cut above for sill performance, innovation and value.

“There’s a very narrow supply chain for door sill components. Endura is a competitive edge. Their Z-Series Adjustable Sills are our go-to assembly,” he reports.

As you consider materials for your next remodeling or new construction project, consider the performance and enduring value a composite sill offers.

Learn more about how composite sills from Endura benefit you and your customers.