Making an entrance has changed – door materials have developed far beyond traditional options to offer composite alternatives which provide a wide choice of styles as well as practicality. Chantel Roach of Distinction Doors explains all

PVCu panel doors, alongside timber doors, dominated the UK domestic entrance door market from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. But new legislation brought in to satisfy social housing requirements challenged both the PVCu 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 performance, making composite doors a popular choice for architects and specifiers.

Today, composite doors have close to 50% share of the UK entrance door market (source: D&G Consulting 2020). Arriving in the UK around 25 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.

Composite doors consist of a ‘skin,’ which can be of GRP (glass reinforced polyester), ABS, steel, PVC and other materials, around a void filled with an insulating material. The term ‘composite doors’ also covers entrance doors manufactured from an engineered timber core with bonded skins.

Colour options

Prior to the arrival of the composite door, choice was limited. Glazing and hardware options were often the only way of injecting style and individuality into an entrance door. Yes, timber doors could be enhanced 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 and Colza Yellow alongside muted tones like Mouse Grey and Pastel Blue. 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. In fact, the options are endless.

Stylish security

Colour and style are perhaps the most widely promoted strengths of the composite door – it lends itself to an extensive range of designs compared to other door materials, which can be limited in both design flair and dimensions. 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, the industry’s enhanced security standard. This is a prerequisite in attaining Secured by Design accreditation (the police initiative to protect properties and clients against unlawful intrusion).

Being granted Secured by Design (SBD) status means stockists and distributors can support SBD-approved door fabricators in manufacturing the ‘ultimate enhanced security doorset.’

Solid performance

Composite doors offer a robust alternative to PVC panel doors, designed with a solidity that not only feels secure but is secure. In addition, a weighted noise reduction (Rw) of 31 decibels is possible, keeping outside noise to a minimum – ideal for those specifying for buildings of multiple occupancy.

If a GRP skin is specified, this too adds to the door’s durability. The high-impact resistant glass-reinforced polyester is designed to offer exceptional endurance, and will maintain a pristine appearance.

Thermal performance

Alongside maintenance and security, energy efficiency has long been associated with composite doors. They are renowned for their thermal performance, assisting in reducing energy bills. With most GRP composite door sets being energy rated A-C, specifiers are not limited when selecting for energy conscious clients.

The future is here

With the evolution of smart technology, it’s no surprise that fabricators and installers of this most modern type of entrance doors are embracing the future of hardware and entrance systems. This ranges from keyless door locks which allow users to unlock and lock the door, wherever they may be, to smart locks controlled by smartphones and other Bluetooth devices. Then there is the instinctive collaboration between security experts and virtual assistant AI technology.

With enduring demand and reputed evolution, the future of the composite entrance door market is secure!

Chantel Roach is commercial director at Distinction Doors