Doors and Windows of the last decade

Photo of author

Nick Dardalis

Updated on

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.

Providing expert help to homeowners and trade professionals since 2010




Get Free help finding the right products from the best suppliers

16:42 30 Oct 23
Nick responded incredibly quickly to my enquiry (on a Saturday too!), and was able to offer invaluable advice on both aluminum systems and manufacturer / suppliers. Thanks Nick!
chris steerchris steer
16:18 09 Oct 23
Had a meeting with Nick during the grand designs show. Was extremely helpful and professional would highly recommend
Chris WesthorpChris Westhorp
19:55 13 Sep 23
Extremely helpful with pointing us in the right direction to find the products we required and suggesting firms that could reliably fit them.Nick was quick to reply and very detailed in his advice.Highly recommend reaching out to them.
Cathy GreenwoodCathy Greenwood
07:03 11 Sep 23
Update - A second email to nick for help on bifolds resulted in a detailed informative reply even on a Sunday ! This guy is so knowledgable and helpful .I approached Nick for an independent view on sliding doors v bifold and the different brand options . His reply was extremely detailed and prompt and allowed me to navigate this often confusing world in a much more informed way . Thanks so much Nick
Anthony CraigAnthony Craig
12:45 05 Sep 23
This is a must site for anyone looking for advice. Great service and very quick answers to questions. Nick has been of great help quiding us through the maze of aluminium products. Thank you
Philip DuffieldPhilip Duffield
20:24 26 Jul 23
I contacted Nick @ ATS for guidance on what aluminium sliding door systems would be suitable for an opening in an extension that is going to be both wide and tall. He came back really quickly with very detailed and incredibly helpful advice. He is clearly extremely knowledgeable about the systems on the market and their respective features and capabilities. If you’re feeling a bit lost by the overwhelming range of choices out there, I’d definitely recommend contacting him.
Dariush HekmatDariush Hekmat
17:25 19 Jul 23
Nick's advice is great. He is always quick to respond and spends time on responses, which really help to make an informed decision.
Alan FosterAlan Foster
07:51 12 Jul 23
Absolutely fantastic. Asked for advice about replacing Crittall (?) windows late last night and early this morning received 3 great suggestions and contact information for suppliers
Rachel LauRachel Lau
09:24 16 Jun 23
Fantastic website full of valuable and pragmatic advice about product selection and comparison: no other website gives information like this. Truly written for public interest. Don't hesistate to reach out to Nick via the mailing system. He responds very quickly, is friendly, and has very sound and high knowledgable advice. I have already shared this with my friend planning her own grand design.
guard Charlieguard Charlie
12:28 14 May 23
I emailed this company just on the off chance they could help me with new magnetic sliders for my patio door. They were not able to supply those but were so very helpful providing me with the name of a company who could. I am so very grateful at the great service. Dare say customers must be very happy. thank you so much.
Benjamin LewisBenjamin Lewis
10:06 04 May 23
Nick is very helpful indeed. Extremely knowledgeable on bifolds which was in relation to my query. Great website as well, some very useful articles. Particularly appreciated the article that lists all the major bifold options in order of their sightlines! Thank you!
P JonesP Jones
08:07 15 Apr 23
I asked Nick some questions about an installation we were considering and he replied within hours with some very useful suggestions that will probably lead us to using a different make and supplier. Thanks, Nick. Great work.
Nicholas WallNicholas Wall
13:18 02 Apr 23
Looking for fair and honest expert advice on all aspect of aluminium windows and doors? These guys will arm you with all the information you need to make the RIGHT choice in a highly complex, crowded marketplace. post a question and you will get a very quick professional answer you can rely on being based on fact. Thanks guys!
Giorgia SiriacoGiorgia Siriaco
16:25 21 Mar 23
After a lot of research to find doors that would meet our unusual size requirements and feeling increasingly uncertain about the best way to spend our small budget, I stumbled on the ATS website, and I'm so glad I did! I contacted ATS to request advice and Nick promptly replied with a wealth of information, providing us with options and relevant contact details. I only wish I'd found them sooner!
Carol NortonCarol Norton
10:01 17 Mar 23
I've been so confused about how to achieve the look I'm after, and going round in circles with various window/door companies, trying to get away from the huge chunks of plastic currently around my windows. I didn't expect an email to a company found through a Google search to really help - but I was desperate, so I tried. I'm SO glad I did. Finally I have clear explanations from ATS of where I've been going wrong, exactly what I'm looking for, and a list of local companies that might be able to provide it! The response has excelled my expectations and I feel as if I'm finally inching closer to a home with which I'll be happy and comfortable: thank you.
David NunnDavid Nunn
20:54 14 Mar 23
It is rare that I write reviews, however after my very positive communication with Nick - enquiring about suitable slim sash aluminium windows for my project, I felt that a review was definitely warranted. I can reinforce the many positive reviews posted so far, Nick was very quick to respond, providing comprehensive detail, with excellent independent advice.In summary, great service, thank you Nick.
Chantal AuerbachChantal Auerbach
13:04 09 Mar 23
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply was incredibly helpful informative and pleasant to deal with. He responded quickly to emails and was very knowledgeable. Highly recommend being in touch with Nick if you are considering new aluminium windows or doors.
Lee JonesLee Jones
20:21 22 Feb 23
I dropped Nick at Aluminium Trade Supply an email re high security slim sightline bi-folds and their alternatives and he responded that quickly (and so comprehensively) that I felt bad I’d not paid him for his time!Nick Sir your product knowledge is outstanding and you are providing a level of service that goes wayyyy above and beyond expectations. I’ll definitely make sure I mention Aluminium Trade Supply to anyone I encounter looking for a fenestration solution 🙏🏼
15:13 13 Feb 23
We are looking to replace some old UPVC patios doors with aluminium ones. The ATS website is a great source of advice in an area where clear information is sorely lacking. Having used the website, I then followed this up with a number of specific questions relating to our search, and Nick came back very quickly with clear, detailed and very useful advice.I have been very impressed with both the website and with Nick's advice. My only regret is that I didn't come across ATS before replacing various windows in 2021 - I'm sure it would have saved me a lot of grief and money! Thanks again Nick.
Azza McCabeAzza McCabe
17:47 01 Feb 23
So impressed with this company.Responded to my query quickly andgave valuable advice. Nick was extremely helpful and we were able to move forward with our project.
Adri LoloçiAdri Loloçi
11:21 08 Jan 23
Nick was super fast to respond and provided some great recommendations. I would recommend this website to anyone looking to find bifold or sliding aluminium doors.
Stephen HoustonStephen Houston
16:16 03 Jan 23
Looking for aluminium crittall style internal door and external patio French doors. Noted good reviews and thought would ask for advice. Comprehensive reply with excellent independent advice and lists of fitters who could provide products and installation. Great service.
Inga GeachInga Geach
08:25 21 Dec 22
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply has been extremely helpful with navigating the jungle that is aluminium glazing for our upcoming extension project. His advice was prompt, detailed and always impartial. Very grateful for your input, thanks Nick!
Amanda BurtonAmanda Burton
10:54 16 Dec 22
Brilliant website and an excellent service. Nick provided not only detailed advice and supplier contacts, but highlighted the considerations of various products so I could make an informed choice. Our Sunvista minimal sliders were fitted this week and I couldn't be happier, stunning. Thanks once again for your advice and recommendations, invaluable!
Keith BarnesKeith Barnes
17:18 10 Dec 22
Very helpful advice given to my question, including the name of 3 different companies that i could try for the product being enquired about. Many thanks
Munim ChowdhuryMunim Chowdhury
11:45 13 Sep 22
Nick has been very helpful on signposting me to a number of partner organisations for steel/aluminium doors.
SUSAN wallaceSUSAN wallace
17:26 31 Aug 22
My experience with this firm was exceptionally good and this is notalways the case as a female, dipping a toe into technical waters.I was spoken too with courtesy and at a level that helped me consolidate what was needed .On top of that I was given a list of companies and places where I could obtain the type of product I needed.I could not thank them enough and would certainly go there again and reccommend others do too.
Paul SalterPaul Salter
22:39 22 Aug 22
Contacting Aluminium Trade Supply is like contacting the Oracle direct. Advice is always comprehensive and balanced. On multiple occasions they have provided me with options that fully meet our objectives. Many thanks.
Nick McCormackNick McCormack
20:25 14 Aug 22
Really helpful and useful came back to me on a Sunday with some invaluable information. Highly recommended.
ray addisonray addison
13:14 14 Aug 22
received a prompt reply to my query,and helpful information from ATS