Composite doors are the number one selling entrance door in the UK. Arriving in the UK over 20 years ago, changing styles, glazing options and colours have seen these modern entrance doors keep pace with trends, responding to demands of architects and homeowners, alike.
Andy Grogan, national sales manager for Distinction Doors, supplier of the UK’s number one selling entrance door, explores the rise of the composite door, highlighting developments in performance, security and technology, and what designers and specifiers should look for when selecting an entrance door.
Let’s begin by explaining what a composite door is. By its definition it’s a door produced from a number of materials. The ‘skin’ can be GRP (glass reinforced polyester), ABS, steel, PVC and other materials. The void between the skins is filled with an insulating material. Entrance doors manufactured from an engineered timber core with skins bonded are also included as composite doors.
Today, composite doors have close to 50% share of the UK entrance door market (source: D&G Consulting). Since 1998, demand for composite doors has risen from 50,000 to 700,000 in 2019. This growth was largely at the expense of PVC entrance doors, which fell by 50% between 2003 and 2019, from 910,000 doors to just 420,000.
PVC panel doors, alongside timber doors dominated the UK domestic entrance door market for more than two decades – from the mid-70s to mid-90s. But new legislation brought in to satisfy social housing requirements challenged both the PVC and timber door markets, as they struggled to meet the demands. Composite door manufacturers and suppliers spotted this opportunity and ran with it.
The doors already ticked a lot of boxes but more importantly, there was the freedom to develop and enhance the products, making them a popular choice for architects and specifiers.
Prior to the arrival of the composite door, choice was limited. Glazing and hardware options were often the only way of injecting interest into an entrance door. Yes, timber doors could be lifted with a lick of paint, but PVC panel doors were ordinarily white, with colour palettes limited to traditional shades of red, blue, green and black.
Today, composite door suppliers offer a kaleidoscope of colours, including vibrant shades such as Signal Violet (RAL 4008) and Colza Yellow (RAL 1021) alongside muted tones like, Pale Roundel Red (BS 454) and Pastel Blue (RAL 5024). In fact, some suppliers can paint a door in any RAL colour, with colour matched glazing cassette. And don’t forget, the joy of a composite door is the option to have dual-colour – one shade for the external face and another for the internal. The options are endless.
Colour and style are perhaps the greatest and most promoted strength of the composite door – it lends itself to an extensive range of designs compared to other door materials which can be limited in both flair and sizes. This has meant the door has extended its reach far beyond new build developments to the extensive replacement door market, with styles to suit both modern and traditional homes.
Yet, style doesn’t mean compromising on performance. As the composite door market has expanded and stabilised over the past two decades, proven performance has become a critical factor in the specification and procurement process. For example, the door leaf and glazing system are major components when part of a door set and have a proven ability to achieve PAS24:2016, industry’s enhanced security standard, a prerequisite in attaining certification to Secured by Design, a police initiative to protect against unlawful intrusion.
Composite doors offer a robust alternative to PVC panel doors. The solid rigidity of the composite product means that it not only feels secure but is secure. Coupled with this, one composite door on the market today, achieves a weighted noise reduction (Rw) of 29 decibels, keeping outside noise to a minimum. If a GRP skin is specified, then this too adds to the door’s durability. The high-impact resistant glass reinforced polyester offers exceptional endurance and will maintain a pristine appearance.
One GRP composite door supplier underpins the strength and quality of its door with a 10-year surface warranty and 25-year structural warranty; such is its belief in the product.
And so, the new kid on the block is now a firm fixture on streets and developments across the UK. Architects and specifiers no longer need choose between aesthetics and high-performance. The modern composite door offers this, and so much more besides – colour, style, security and sound and thermal insulation…
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