Choosing between composite doors vs aluminium doors

Composite doors vs aluminium doors. What’s the difference between these two products when buying a new front door? Composite doors are cheaper, lighter and work well with existing or new PVCu windows and doors fitted elsewhere in the property. Aluminium doors are stronger, longer-lasting and generally considered the more premium front door and better investment long term.

Composite doors vs aluminium doors – materials compared

composite doors vs aluminium doors dark grey front door in a new-build home

The key difference between composite doors vs aluminium doors is their material make-up. Composite doors use a PVCu frame and a door slab using GRP skins and a timber or foam core. Aluminium doors use an aluminium frame combined with an aluminium door sash and panel.

The benefit of the aluminium door is material and colour consistency not to mention using the same profile system throughout. Composite doors as the name suggests use different materials making up the product and rarely is it one system.

The door panels on composite doors and aluminium front doors

The colour and surface finish when choosing between composite doors vs aluminium doors is another significant difference both in how they’re made and how they look.

Whilst you do get contemporary designs with composite doors, in many cases composite doors try to look like a timber door. Whether they carry it off successfully is subjective. Look at a composite door and you’ll find a grained appearance to the door skin. Pay more buying front doors with hybrid materials and you’ll get more luxury and a product built to last many decades.

Another visible difference comparing composite and aluminium doors is the cassettes used to house the glass on the composite model. Some cheaper models show the fixings holding the cassette in place and this can look unsightly. Aluminium doors use aluminium for their cassettes not a plastic and the look is just better.

Overall, aluminium doors benefit from consistency with a more streamlined and coherent look and they don’t try to replicate a wood door, although wood-effect finishes are available. The painting process on aluminium doors is more advanced and looks more authentic – it’s not pretending to be another material. Aluminium doors are powder coated using an advanced coating process. Even better, these processes are subject to very strict quality and environmental standards.

The benefit of composite door slabs is their flush appearance compared with some aluminium doors where the panel is glazed into the door sash. But spend a little more and you get this seamless door look with aluminium as well.

Finally, the metal accents creating modern designs, combined with high-grade architectural handles just looks better on an aluminium door because it uses aluminium everywhere.

Aluminium doors use thicker door panels

The timber core composite door is a fine product but these panels usually go up to 48mm thick for the door leaf with something like a Solidor or Endurance product.

Many aluminium doors use panels going up to 90mm. The benefit is improved insulation and a more robust door both in look and feel.

Why thermal expansion matters on composite doors vs aluminium doors

PVCu expands roughly two and a half times more than aluminium. Therefore, when PVCu doors are fitted on south or sunny elevations and especially in a darker colour, these are prone to thermal expansion. The downside is sticking doors and with doors struggling to close correctly or lock. Darker colours are especially problematic on composite doors.

The reduced thermal expansion on aluminium is widely known to provide significantly more reliable doors with none of the issues of PVCu and composite doors in warmer weather.

Where composite doors are better than aluminium doors

composite front doors in a wood design to a cottage
composite doors vs aluminium doors showing a solidor product in a cottage

There are several areas where composite doors are actually better than aluminium doors. First of all, is composite doors are better for traditional designs. Here, composite doors do have the advantage although there are some aluminium front doors such as the Smart Systems Designer Doors range offering very good styles in aluminium.

Next is stable doors. These are doors where the top half of the door opens like a window creating ventilation and they’re great in older houses. The only other option for stable doors is timber or hybrid doors. Aluminium doors aren’t available with a stable door design.

When you want a really good front door at a low price, composite doors are hard to beat. Comparing composite doors vs aluminium doors on price, expect to pay around 40%-60% more for a mid-range model in aluminium. So composite doors are better for those on a budget, rental properties and houses being renovated to sell on.

One advantage of composite doors vs aluminium doors is their option for having a fire-rated model. Aluminium has no fire rating, so you’ll either have to go with a fire-rated steel door or a suitable steel-clad aluminium system.

Where aluminium doors are better than composite doors

contemporary aluminium front door in a brick-built house

As well as the advantages already mentioned in this article, aluminium front doors are also better than composite doors in other ways.

For those homeowners looking for a premium product, it’s aluminium, timber, hybrid or steel doors that are established as a more high-end product. Composite doors, as good as they are, struggle with a luxury reputation.

Aluminium also offers significantly better sizes than composite doors. They go wider and taller than composite doors. The benefit of this is some doorways using a composite door mean having a side panel or glaze panel above where you can have a complete door set in aluminium.

It’s also the same for smaller doorways. Composite doors struggle to get below 800mm wide and many older cottages need narrow doors. Aluminium doors can go as narrow as 400mm with many models, so they’re a better solution here.

Where composite doors are better for traditional designs, aluminium is the go-to product for contemporary doors. Compare the two products side by side and you’ll see how much better aluminium doors look in the modern style. Smaller or even concealed hinges, bold architectural quality door handles, metal strips and modern glass. All these features just work and look better in an aluminium door.

Above all, it’s life expectancy. With just routine cleaning and periodic adjustment if needed, aluminium front doors will last longer than composite doors. Of course, composite doors vary in quality and price but take a look at the faded front doors on many new build homes using composite materials.

Security on composite doors vs aluminium doors

The good news is both door types provide excellent security high quality hardware, secure door cylinders and multi-point locking.

As both aluminium and composite doors undergo the same security testing methods and both pass, then there’s little to worry about for front door security.

Energy-efficiency on composite doors vs aluminium doors

The U-Values you get comparing composite doors vs aluminium doors depends on the thickness of the panel and the product. Broadly speaking composite doors market U-Values of around 1.6Wm2K and these do meet current Building Regulations.

Aluminium doors offer similar or better ratings with Passivhaus doors available and aluminium panels coming with U-Values well below 1.0Wm2K. The lower the U-Value, the more energy-efficient the product.

More information about aluminium front doors

Whether you choose a composite or an aluminium door, you will get a secure door with a quality guarantee. So budget or styling may be your deciding factor. Get in touch for more information about where to buy aluminium front doors near you.

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