Think about automobiles. General Motors makes some GEO models that sell for about $7,000, and other models that sell for over $50,000. Both will get you down the road! And for a while, Yugos sold NEW for under $4,000! How coult THIS be? Well, it is related pretty directly to two things: Quality and Extra features. Try closing a door on a GEO and on a Cadillac ElDorado. The "feel" is VERY different! The ElDorado also has quite an assortment of luxury features which are standard, where the GEO is pretty much "bare bones."
A similar concept applies to fireplace doors. Doors sold by mass merchandisers' look nice when you buy them but feel really flimsy and cheap when you open or close the doors, and the brass plating sometimes starts coming off during the first winter of use. These are almost "disposable doors." At the expensive end of the spectrum are doors which feel strong and smoothly glide open and closed. Quality is obvious throughout, with a protective coating over the brass to keep it from ever discoloring.
In the middle are doors of intermediate quality, generally in direct relation to the price. This being America, these manufacturers have found a "fair" price for each of their products. When they tried to charge too high a price, competing models captured their market share. When they charged too low, they soon realized they could make higher profits without losing any market share.
Subjectively, we feel that most of the doors in the $350-$500 range have very good quality when economy is a significant concern. (That's why we include any of the doors up to about $350 price, as standard with the JUCA F-9A Built-In Fireplace.)
We usually start getting nervous regarding quality on doors which list for under $300 or so. If economy is not quite so pressing a concern, we think in terms of up to maybe $800 list. Above this, we usually only recommend door sets either because the style or appearance merits it (like super-narrow frames), because a particular unique style would enhance a desired room decor (like pewter doors), or because price is less important than absolute quality.
(Arch-Top door assemblies are usually $250 or so higher than comparable rectangular door assemblies.)
E-mail to: Jdoor1@mb-soft.com