aluminium crittall-style doors. an investment or fashion trend?

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Nick Dardalis

The trend for the Art-Deco, heritage and industrial style, and especially for aluminium Crittall-style doors, is now firmly established in new build extensions and when replacing patio doors, windows and even inside the home. The benefit of the steel look is its timeless style when you consider buildings originally fitted with Crittall® or other metal windows that are always refurbished with identical windows. This timeless and iconic style now works brilliantly in homes, offices, bars and restaurants. If you’re considering aluminium Crittall style doors or windows and not sure whether the style or indeed the many products available in the steel look, are an investment in quality glazing or a soon-to-pass fashion trend, read on.

The trend for aluminium Crittall-style doors is not new

aluco aluminium crittall-style doors in a modern house conversion
Always stylish and on-trend aluminium Crittall-style doors. Hinged and sliding models by Aluco Aluminium.

You might think the trend for aluminium steel-look windows and doors means the product concept is new. In fact, the early specialists in these types of windows like The Heritage Window Company, have been around for twenty years or more. And some fabricators of aluminium Crittall style doors and windows have been making them for even longer. There are also numerous companies making new steel windows or set up for the refurbishment of old metal windows.

The reasons why aluminium Crittall-style doors and steel-look windows are not new are actually quite simple. First is the requirement to replace existing steel windows with a like-for-like or suitable equivalent in listed buildings or for homes in a conservation area. You can’t just rip out old windows and fit what you like. Second and equally important is that many people improving their homes actually care about what they replace their windows with and want the new glazing to keep with the house’s style or enhance its look.

Why is the Crittall® style so popular right now?

aluminium crittall-style doors in a new dining room extension
The look will remain timeless when the glazing style works well in the design. Sunflex heritage French doors.

Just like all trends, they come and go. Fashion is an excellent example where trends can circle back every few decades, coming back either as the original with a modern twist. And it is no different for glazing and interior design. And just like fashion, starting with a particular look on the catwalk, glazing trends change through innovative architecture, interior designers with creative flair and vision, and homeowners looking for something entirely different from standard double glazing. Colour is another reason, with new windows and doors rarely being white or brown.

  • Original ‘double glazing’ is aluminium starting in the 1960s
  • Aluminium falls out of favour replaced by PVCu in the 1980s
  • Aluminium is back in fashion since around 2010 – slimmer and better-looking windows

For patio doors especially these have seen a shift too.

  • Early double glazing was mainly French doors in 1960s and 1970’s
  • Sliding doors, whether aluminium, aluminium in hardwood frames or PVCu in the 1990s
  • Bifolding doors get popular around 2005-2008, sliding doors fall out of fashion
  • Sliding doors, especially slimline models, come back into fashion around 2017
  • Sliding doors and aluminium Crittall-style doors are presently in fashion

Trends today originate from many sources. Before, it was physical shows, print, media and old-style advertising. Now it is enhanced visibility through the internet, social media, music and aspiration, not to mention our growing interest in lifestyle programmes, property renovation being one of these. Even celebrities and influencers now tell us what doors and windows they’ve had in their homes. For doors and windows, it also starts with innovative glazing companies deciding to offer their customers something new and different.

A trend may rise to popularity for one reason and fall out of favour for another. Trends are at times, unpredictable phenomena, but certain behaviours remain true. Indeed, the life cycle of a trend consists of five stages: Introduction, Rise, Peak, Decline, and Obsolescence.

For doors and windows, it also starts with innovative glazing companies deciding to offer their customers something better. Aluminium Crittall-style doors are currently in the rise stage. The reason for this is their adaptability to virtually any style of property because they take inspiration from original and timeless window designs. Timber-look PVCu casement and sash windows taking inspiration from crafted joinery, are another example, and these too are very popular right now for replacement windows.

The glazing trend of the last decade around slimmer frame profiles, views, transparency, opening up your home, connecting to your outside spaces, and filling your home with light is what made bifold and sliding doors, and especially aluminium patio doors, so popular. Aluminium Crittall-style doors do not go against this trend. They’re just another product in a different style that provides a similar experience. So there’s little chance of these going out of fashion. But there is every chance a new type of door will appear in the future.

Aluminium Crittall-style doors vs steel

steel internal crittall doors in a lounge setting
Steel is slimmer and, by design, looks different to aluminium

There is a genuine case to answer that if you want the absolute best in this glazing style, then go for the original and not what is obviously an aluminium imitation – as good as aluminium currently is. We’ve seen all the current aluminium versions of the steel look, and you will see a difference between aluminium and steel. These material and design differences can also make the difference between staying in fashion and possibly going out of fashion.

Steel is slimmer and has smoothly welded corners, the glazing bars are seamlessly also welded to the door frames, giving an altogether better look. They are not cut and applied manually to the glass, the badly-made products having visible edges. Overall the entire fit and finish of the authentic Crittall® door ensure it does what it says on the tin – that this is the original and best. The fundamental differences between steel and aluminium as materials are essentially the reason why Crittall doors and other steel brands look the way they do. The significant advantage of aluminium Crittall-style doors is cost saving and often a third of the price of the genuine article.

Arguably a genuine product like Crittall® always stays on trend because it’s not only proven its longevity for over 100 years but also because it is a brand with kudos, pedigree and heritage.

aluminium Crittall-style doors 5 reasons why they’ll stay in fashion

aluhome air mod windows10
The suitability of this style for most property types is likely to retain its popularity. aïr MOD doors by Alühome

The Crittall, industrial, heritage or Art-Deco look will remain popular as a glazing style simply because of how this distinctive style looks. There is no other genuinely comparable product.

Light-filled and spacious rooms will always be desirable in a property renovation. For interior doors and even with the grid-like pattern, few products let light flow like aluminium Crittall-style doors.

The introduction of aluminium doors and windows has improved buyers’ access to this style because the genuine steel product is more expensive, exclusive, and until now, discounted by customers with lower budgets.

There aren’t any other alternatives for exterior doors anywhere near as slim. For interior doors, only frameless glass doors or steel provide anywhere near the minimalist sightlines.

The styling and appeal of these products work in most house types, not just Art-Deco and replacing the original steel windows. Cottages, suburban house extensions, Victorian terraced houses, Georgian homes, apartments and new build homes. This style suits them all and complements existing architecture.

And 5 reasons why this style could lose its appeal

cortizo steel-look sliding doors
Too many bars can be overkill, obstructing the view.

There is a risk that the over-promotion of this glazing style may also result in its downfall. You see this style everywhere now for property renovation projects, especially interiors. We fear people will tire of it.

Some products and companies continue to offer nothing but standard doors with bars on the glass, turning people away from this style, because it is not the properly-designed steel-look system they’re looking at.

The grid-like pattern created by the heritage bars really only suits certain aperture sizes. The bigger you go with aluminium Crittall-style doors, the greater the risk of doors starting to look a little like a cage.

We see the overuse of black as a go-to colour as a mistake by the glazing industry and risks going the way of white plastic windows. It becomes staid. These doors look really attractive in lighter colours, cream, grey and other finishes.

As interest grows in more energy-efficient glazing, the Crittall® style falls short when you want the lowest U-Values.

More information and where to buy aluminium aluminium Crittall-style doors and windows

You can get in touch for details of exterior and interior steel-look doors and windows, product advice and where to buy the right products from the best suppliers. Use our contact form and get free impartial advice.

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