Doors and Windows of the last decade

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Nick Dardalis

2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the Aluminium Trade Supply Website so we’ve had ample time to look at windows and doors of the last decade and see how things have changed. We’ve also been in the glazing sector for 32 years and used our experience to compile our top ten, whether new, emerging and resurging.  And we predict what to expect in the coming years too.

doors and windows of the last decade
The Steel-Look such as the Aluco, AirMOD or Alitherm are designs of the decade.

Top Ten Windows and Doors of the decade.

The past ten years have been exceptional for the home improvement industry. However, it’s not just about windows and doors.  Home extensions, renovations and contemporary building projects have seen a great demand for all types of products used to improve a home. Kitchens, interior design, interior colours, bathrooms, building products and home furnishings.  All of these have seen changing trends.

Here are our top ten windows and doors of the last decade.

1. Steel-look doors and glazing.

The steel-look and steel-replacement systems are an enigma.  They are visually unlike other types of patio doors and windows and go against the trend.  Throughout this decade the design message was clear. Improved views, letting in the light and creating connected indoor-outdoor living through large expansive glazing.   Steel look systems are the opposite. Horizontal and/or vertical bars interrupt the glass and the view.  For doors, this trend takes us back to hinged not folding or sliding doors. That said, they are on-trend, with clean sharp lines, incredibly desirable and create quite beautiful glazing done right.

Taking inspiration from original Crittall® Windows, the last two to three years have seen phenomenal growth in steel look and steel replacement systems.  You can use these both inside and outside the home. Patio doors, internal doors, exterior or interior screens and room dividers are just some ways to add heritage or contemporary steel-look glazing in the home. In aluminium, we think Smart Systems Alitherm Heritage suite is about the best there is.  But you’ll also find Aluk and Reynaers offer similar great products.  But do your research.  We’ve also seen the horrendous results from some installers and fabricators who don’t know how to sell or make these products for the correct look. Contact us for information on products and where to buy.

The popularity of steel look systems has seen new specialist installers and manufacturers emerge too. They now offer some standout products in this Art Deco style.  Only Crittall® Windows is the real deal with the best sightlines, aesthetics and longevity. However, the phenomenal trend for steel-styled glazing and the excellent cheaper aluminium derivatives makes steel-look systems our top product of the decade. We also think aluminium steel-look has given Crittall® themselves greater visibility in some respects.

2. Bifolding Doors

white corner bifolds

The bifolding door remains one of the best patio doors for the home.  It didn’t make our top spot as it’s now a mature and well-known product.  However, bifolding doors have developed. The latest generation of doors are slimmer than before with products such as the Origin OB-49, Schuco ASS70, Sunflex and others offering less visible aluminium and more glass. There is also the incredible Sieger door currently holding the top spot as the thinnest bifold.  Or you can go completely frameless with a slide and stack model from Frameless Glass Curtains, with an altogether different folding door experience in the home.

buying cortizo sliding doors

With a bifold, there is no better way to connect the inside to the patio or garden.  Bifolding doors remain popular in home extensions and as a replacement for dated patio doors. For us, two brands stand out in our windows and doors of the last decade.  Origin Frames Ltd continues to be the best known brand amongst homeowners in the same way people think of Everest for double glazing.  The marketing and growth of Origin as a business and the calibre of its dealer network is unrivalled in our view. Their marketing, dealer support and consistent growth with even more competition over the last then years are exceptional too.  But Schuco also deserves credit.  Schuco carries out nowhere near the business-to-consumer marketing of Origin yet remains the go-to luxury brand for many installers and is known by homeowners.  We must also give credit to Smart Systems for their Visoglide door and Aluk for theirs. Another two brands with little direct engagement with the end-user market yet two of the best selling trade bifolds in the UK.  

3.  Sliding Doors

The latter part of this decade sees sliding doors gaining a new-found love.  The benefit of sliding doors is less frame, bigger glass panels and better views.  While sliding doors won’t open up an entire opening like bifolds, they’ve grown in popularity, brands and functionality.  Every major systems company over the last decade has both slimmed down and improved their sliding products keeping in line with current trends for minimalist doors and expansive glass panels.

Sliding doors provide larger doors at impressive panel widths and heights. You also get the benefit of excellent engineering, making even the heaviest doors effortless to slide.  Other innovations with sliding doors are soft and smart close technology such as those found in the latest Schuco ASE 60 slider.

4.  Cortizo Systems

cortizo logo

It wasn’t that long ago that nobody knew of Cortizo. Specifically for sliding doors, our fourth place goes to Cortizo Systems. Cortizo is the system of choice for many manufacturers and installers when it comes to the now well-known sliding door with the 20mm interlock and structural glazed construction.  Some of the best known aluminium names such as Origin, Air, Architectural Vision Systems, Infiniglide and many others use either a standard or customised Cortizo door as their minimalist patio door.

From relative obscurity, Cortizo systems are still not that well known in the UK for their other products.  However, for slim sliding doors, Cortizo has not only cracked the market but boosted the resurgence and new-found love for sliding doors.  Undoubtedly, the Cortizo product is also responsible for creating a near-obsession with thin interlocks in sliding doors, despite their limitations, higher price and installation complexity.

5.  Aluminium Doors

Composite doors will always be hard to beat for front doors and these are better than the foam-filled products with Solidor, Endurance and other products having solid timber cores and some gorgeous door colours and designs.  However, our issue with composite doors is longevity.  One needs only to look at the doors provided in new build developments to see how cheap versions of these fade, fall apart and not built to last.

At the other end of the spectrum is high-end timber and hybrid doors from specialist manufacturers and designers such as Urban Front or Pirnar. Aluminium doors now sit somewhere in the middle and came about this last decade.  Yes, they were here before with brands like Monarch Monaframe doors with designer glazed panels. This time they’re better, more secure, with incredible design features.  Hidden hinges, automatic door locks, automation and designer hardware, are all commonplace in aluminium front doors as well both traditional and modern styles.

However, the stand out aluminium door has to be the pivot door. Different, beautiful, a sight to watch open and shut.  Pivot doors also come at incredible sizes. Aluminium front doors and the pivot door take number five in our doors and windows of the last decade.

culmax aluminium doors.
Pivot doors made by Maxlight of London

6.  Flush Casement Windows

aluminium windows00007

Aluminium windows have not seen the development of their PVCu counterparts. Technically there isn’t a huge amount you can do with aluminium. PVC offers more scope for decorative mouldings and finishes such as with sash windows. Windows are constantly working to be thinner and more energy-efficient. However, flush casement windows finally came to aluminium.

Commercially we’ve seen windows opening out as balconies, parallel opening windows and developments in hybrid products such as fibreglass windows by Senior Architectural. However, one development started by Origin with their OW-80 product this decade is flush casement windows.

Popular with PVCu products already, aluminium windows have developed into flush casement models.  The success of flush casement aluminium windows remains to be seen. Stellar Aluminium Systems have hit the market with their version. Garnalex Systems are launching Sheerline early this year.  It remains to be seen whether installers will fall in love with windows in the way they’ve embraced sliding and bifolding doors.  Nonetheless, flush casement windows arrived this decade and look here to stay.

7.  Lantern Roofs, Skylights and Rooflights

origin os-77 sliding door

The extension market remains responsible for the popularity of all manner of patio doors as well as windows or floor-to-ceiling glazing. But no extension is complete without a lantern roof, skylight or rooflight.  The last decade has seen huge improvements in roof glazing products when previously it was limited to specialist suppliers and constructing a dated conservatory.

With slimmer products based on facade glazing technology, walk-on glass rooflights, opening rooflights and even those with built-in blinds. Lantern roofs, skylights and rooflights have in the last decade developed into highly desirable products.

8.  The Colour Grey and Special Colours

grey folding doors 1024x683

It’s not that long ago that special colours were only for commercial glazing contracts, shopfronts and cladding.  Anyone buying windows between 2000 and 2010 had quite limited stock colour options of white, black, silver or brown. Special colours took forever and were expensive.

We’ve now moved away from magnolia in our rooms and white, silver and brown for our aluminium windows.  Grey is by far the colour of choice for windows and doors with all manner of shades, textures and options.  However, a greater choice of powder-coated colours isn’t the only innovation.  In the last ten years, we’ve seen woodgrain aluminium and foiled aluminium such as the excellent Alumina Bifolding Door.

For steel look systems it has to be black and for modern extensions all manner of colours in between. As a result of aluminium itself growing in popularity so have colours. Therefore the colour grey and special colours take our 8th spot in doors and windows of the last decade.

9.  Express Bifolding Doors

express logo

The last decade has also seen developments in stand out companies as well as products.  There are many great systems and businesses that would make this list extend to hundreds. However, Express Bifolding Doors is, for us, one of the very best examples of how buying windows and doors has changed compared to the last decade.  Express Bifolding Doors takes number nine in windows and doors of the decade. Express has played a big part in elevating the experience of buying doors and windows.

Thankfully we’ve mostly moved away from ridiculous small window samples in the home, high-pressure calls, commission-only salespeople and questionable sales tactics.   Our work takes us all over the UK seeing businesses, products, showrooms, marketing and sales. Express Bifolding Doors has arguably the best showroom experience in the country, an excellent website and marketing message.  Granted, not everyone has the Express space, size or budget. Many even sell exactly the same systems.  Companies like Express and smaller reputable businesses have brought a new and much-improved way to buy doors and windows.  It wasn’t that long ago homeowners didn’t even know what system or brand they were buying. Now many are aware before they even get in touch to discuss their project.

10.  Luxury Door Brands

schuco bifolding doors review

Taking number ten in our list is the greater perception homeowners and the fenestration sector has around brands.  We frequently say there is no bad product on the market. Most windows and doors are designed to meet current standards, are safe, secure and weather resistant.

In the last ten years, we’ve seen more brand focus and brand perception than ever before. Where previously we just bought “any” windows, now as with other consumer goods we are looking at the name, the company behind it as well as the product.  Those in the trade do the same. Some glazing professionals may regard Smart Systems and Aluk as trade or builder-favourite brands to names such as Solarlux, Schuco, Reynaers, Sunflex or Centor having better quality and luxury brand perception.  The same applies to installers and providers of windows.  Many have branched out into the top end of the market where price is not the deciding factor.

Therefore as home extensions get more ambitious, customers desire ‘the best’, so the requirement for brand-specific windows and doors has grown.  We’ve seen more high-end brands in the last ten years whether due to price, reputation, specification or design. And we’ve played our part as the only website reviewing doors and windows to help homeowners and the trade.

The Aluminium Trade Supply Website. 2010-2020

The Aluminium Trade Supply Website is the biggest aluminium doors and windows information resource thanks to our independence and broad coverage.  We continue to advise and inform about aluminium products for the homeowner and trade market.  Every year we receive thousands of consumer and trade enquiries and continue to help buyers and the wider trade.  The last ten years also sees us now providing millions of pounds worth of residential and commercial referrals, putting homeowners in touch with quality installers and manufacturers.

There is greater awareness around sightlines, energy efficiency colours and security too.  Above all windows and doors are now perceived as an essential part of a home improvement project and homeowners carry out substantially more research than ever before.  Installers are also more knowledgable than before choosing to sell several brands instead of just one.  Importantly, we want our new windows and doors to provide solutions for the way we use our kitchen, living and outdoor spaces.  Aluminium continues to beat PVCu or timber when it comes to functionality in the home.

We’ve also seen the growth of consumer-focused exhibitions whether for general design, self-building as we British continue to love our homes. These exhibitions have certainly given new visibility to glazing, windows and doors in all materials.  Professional glazing businesses are now getting their products in front of the customer.

Finally, this decade has been one for integral glass blinds. Morley Glass, Hi-Tech Blinds and others have all enjoyed excellent business and growth over recent years. Thanks to the popularity of bifolding doors, integral blinds have proved to be one of the best ways of adding privacy and shade to large glass panels.

Ten Predictions for 2020-2029:

  • A greater focus on brand awareness, more dealer networks and specialist installers by major systems companies.
  • Greater and targeted marketing by systems companies to the end-user.
  • More European systems looking to enter the UK market despite Brexit.
  • Aluminium and PVCu products getting even more thermally efficient to meet changing regulations.
  • Energy efficiency and Building Regulations could see a direct link to climate change issues facing us all.
  • Home automation won’t reach windows and doors just yet.  We will still prefer a handle and key-locking method to our windows and doors instead of fingerprint scanners and automatic locks.
  • A greater focus on design, with contemporary glazing, aluminium windows and doors continuing to be desirable in the home.
  • New innovations in PVCu products looking to offer a cheaper ‘aluminium look and feel’.
  • Previously commercially-focused systems and brands will look to capture the end-user market.
  • Government spending promises should see an increase in commercial and residential construction and more glazing orders as a result.