Scott Francis, Doors Technical Manager at Bowater by Birtley, looks at the rise in demand for composite doors and why latest innovations can help developers boost the appeal of their properties.
Specifying external doors is an extremely important aspect in any new-build project. As one of the first things that people see, the front door in particular is a major focal point of any home, especially for potential buyers, so it will need to be aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the style of the rest of the building. It should also be robust enough to act as an impenetrable barrier and deterrent to even the most persistent of intruders, be energy efficient and enable the homeowner to gain easy access.
With so many factors to take into consideration and what can seem like no end of options available in terms of core materials, styles and colours, choosing the right door can be a difficult decision. The challenge for housebuilders is to identify a type of door that offers clear differentiation and is valued by the homeowner.
Composite is key
A report from Palmer Market Research 1 states in just over ten years, sales of composite doors have risen from less than 20% of all door sales in 2007 to now accounting for more than 54% of the total domestic entrance doors market. It has also estimated that by next year the sector is likely to have grown by a further 22% and that the composite door sector will see significant growth over the next few years as the material continues to gain share at the expense of timber and steel entrance doors.
This rise in popularity is due to many homeowners and developers recognising the benefits that composite doors offer – appealing aesthetics, energy efficiency, security and low maintenance. As such, the industry has responded by offering a wider choice of designs and colours in order to meet these aspirations. Recent innovations include contemporary and traditional styles along with smooth and woodgrain skins, as well as more hardware options and glass designs.
As well as aesthetics, most homeowners now expect that a door will offer high levels of energy efficiency and security, as the majority of ranges do. However, even then there are certain features in a composite door range that makes it stand out from the crowd. For example, there are definite benefits to specifying a 68mm double rebated composite door.
They offer a higher rate of acoustic performance and achieve better thermal efficiency by the fact that there is more insulation compared to a 44mm door.
One of the biggest draws of a composite door for homeowners is that it doesn’t require time-consuming and costly maintenance to keep it in perfect condition, as the robust GRP (glass reinforced plastic) skin will not fade, warp or crack. This is because the insulating foam core and strong outer frame, which makes up the composition of the door provides strength and resilience, making it perfect for residential use in any environment.
Thermal efficiency is also a key factor for homeowners looking to manage their heating bills and be more environmentally friendly. A composite door with an inner core made up of 100% CFC free Polyurethane foam, which also acts as a superior sound proofing agent, can deliver some of the lowest U-values in the industry, meaning better energy efficiency and a warmer home.
According to the government there are around 1.7m homes in the UK that are now susceptible to deluge as a result of climate change, so having a PAS 1188 certified flood door installed on developments that are close to areas susceptible to deluge is a great solution for concerned homeowners. In addition, when it comes to specifying doors for multi-occupancy developments, it is important to ensure that the doors to each apartment also hold the required fire safe certification.
As more intruders are becoming experts at ‘lock bumping’, housebuilders will also find that homeowners are very receptive to simple steps that can avoid them becoming a victim. As a result, it would be beneficial to opt for a door that include safer and secure locks that are linked and backed up by an array of multipoint hooklocks. Even more beneficial would be to choose a composite door that has been awarded a Secured by Design accreditation, which is given to all police approved doors that meet PAS24 regulations and the national standard for safer homes.
Advances in design and overall aesthetics, assured higher levels of security, ease of installation and better thermal and acoustic performance, not to mention flood defence, means the composite door will remain a firm favourite with both homeowners and developers. However, with little to differentiate most ranges, housebuilders need to partner with a supplier that can offer composite doors with clear elements of difference, and which are valued by potential homebuyers.