Depending on the sun exposure, a door may need repainting or replacing sooner rather than later. If you can see light around it from the inside, if it is hard to close or lock, or if the door itself is warped, it's time to consider a new door.
Even if you can't see light, air may be moving through gaps in the weather stripping. On a very cold or hot day, hold the back of your hand an inch or so away from the bottom and perimeter of your door. If you can feel air moving or a significant cold spot, that's a signal your existing door could benefit from better sealing. High-performance fiberglass doors available now can have four times more insulation than wood doors.
Once a new door is installed, or if an old door is still functional but looking weary, it's time to consider what color to paint it. Remember that your front door is where you leave the world behind and enter your personal retreat, so color is a big part of the experience. Pick something that contrasts with the rest of the house enough to draw the eye but still works with the surrounding colors.
Here is what traditions -- and color psychologists -- have to say about front door colors:
* Red. By painting the front door red, the owner is saying the home is full of life, energy and excitement. In Feng Shui, a red front door means "welcome," and in early American tradition, it meant the same thing -- if a home had a red front door, tired folks traveling by horse and buggy would know they were welcome to stop and rest.
* Brown. An earthy tone is friendly, beckons you in and helps you feel grounded but while a brown front door looks natural and organic, it can send mixed messages in terms of color psychology. Some darker shades of brown signal a desire for privacy, even isolation.
* Blue. A blue front door signals that the owner views the home as a place of refuge -- calm, serene and relaxing, the perfect retreat from a demanding world. Blue also denotes loyalty, so anyone who paints their front door blue indicates a sense of loyalty and wealth.
* Dark blue doors are believed to create calm and peace for your home, plus are thought to bring positive energy. Like a uniform or a great business suit, navy blue commands respect.
* Green. Green brings to mind health, harmony and the outdoors, all good attributes for a home environment. Psychologically speaking, green connotes health, safety, tranquility and harmony, also good for the home environment.
* Black. A black front door projects strength, sophistication, power and authority, indicating to all who enter or even passersby that the home is a serious place inhabited by a person of substance.
* White. White is the classic front door color. White throughout history represents virtue, purity and simplicity.
* Yellow is a color that evokes mental clarity, perception, understanding, wisdom, confidence, curiosity, humor and merriment.
* Purple. In some cultures, a purple door signifies royalty and wealth, but not necessarily monetary wealth. In Feng Shui it is connected with psychic activities such as meditation. In the West, clairvoyants and religious clergy use purple to show their connection to the spiritual side. Because it is an unusual color for a front door, painting your front door purple can show the world that you are open-minded and willing to think outside the box.
* Dark gray. Harmony resides here. Not too warm, not too cold, a gray in perfect balance.
Drive around your neighborhood and look at other doors to see what works and what doesn't. Try photographing the front of your house, making a larger print, then holding paint chips over the front door to try out various colors.
Once painted, your front door will extend a friendly greeting to visitors, but more importantly it will welcome you.