As Distinction Doors celebrates 15 years in business, national sales manager, Andy Grogan, looks back at the rise of the composite door. 

It has been more than 20 years since Drew Wright brought the first GRP composite doors over from Kuala Lumpur.  In 2004, five years later, Distinction Doors was formed.

To date, over four million Distinction Doors have been installed in the UK, and the product has come a long way since those early days.  As a company we never stand still, we are continually looking at ways to improve.  Most products have a life cycle and it’s no different for a composite door.  With each new generation of door there have been improvements, as we remedy issues, drive change and respond to customer demand.

From the mid-70s to the mid-90s, PVC panels dominated the UK market but in more recent years, industry and building requirements have brought change.  Substantial opportunities for GRP composite doors rose in the early 2000s, growth was largely and firstly due to the security and low maintenance benefits, at the expense of PVC entrance doors.

The composite door ticked a lot of boxes but more importantly, it could be developed and enhanced to exceed expectations, something which Distinction did and continues to do.

Stylish Choice

Perhaps, the greatest strength of the composite door is style – it lends itself, with ease, to an extensive range of designs, compared to other door materials which can be limited in both flair and sizes.  In the beginning this opened the door to other markets as decision makers had a wider selection to choose from.  As demand grew, more and more fabricators started to use GRP doors; extending both their range and customer reach.

Rainbow of Colour

White PVC panel doors were a main stay of residential areas right up to the early Noughties.  White was the common denominator.  While timber doors could be jazzed up with a lick of paint, PVC doors remained stubbornly white – with each system house selecting their own shade!  The joy of the composite door was the introduction of colour, adding to the traditional red, blue, green and black offered by the PVC door market.  Composite doors can be offered in just about all colours.  This again, has helped fabricators and installers win business as they can offer unrestricted choice.

Developing Doors

As awareness grew so too did the demand for development.  Performance, security and maintenance became critical factors for those supplying new build and social housing developments.  The GRP composite door market responded, working with hardware designers and manufacturers, and associations and initiatives like Secured by Design (SBD) to meet modern requirements.

Thermal Performance

Over the years, marketing has played an important role in boosting appreciation of the benefits of installing a composite door.  Alongside maintenance and security, energy efficiency has long been promoted as a beneficial factor.  Composite doors are renowned for their thermal performance and how they can help to reduce energy bills.  When independently tested, our Signature composite door (44.5mm) is more than 17% more thermally efficient than a solid timber core door (48mm) and a timber panelled door (44mm), for example.

Reducing Waste

The environmental impact of plastic has been a national concern since the BBC aired ‘Our Blue Planet’, episode seven of its award-winning Blue Planet series in December 2017.  As the UK’s number one selling entrance door, we strive to exceed customer demands, trends and requirements.   The launch of our nxt-gen range in early 2017 is proof of this.  With the environment in mind, we designed and developed the nxt-gen doors to be trimmable – reducing the amount of waste going to landfill by 75%.  Being a more environmentally friendly option is one of the many reasons that the next generation of composite doors are becoming increasingly popular in all market sectors.

It would be hard for millennial fabricators and installers to imagine a time when composite doors weren’t a key fixture of streets, cul-de-sacs and housing estates across the UK.  Demand has risen from 50,000 composite doors in 1998, to 700,000 in 2019 (D&G Consulting).  Today, composite doors have close to 50% of the entrance door market.

To find out more information, contact us.