Buying a new entrance door-the choices

Looking to buy a new entrance door or front door? An entrance door is available in aluminium, PVCu, timber, composite doors and hybrid materials. All of these materials, whether used as a front door, porch door, side or back door provide secure, functional and reliable doors.

Here’s our guide to buying a new entrance door with an explanation of what you get with all the different materials.

The advantages of a new entrance door explained

Aside from adding a fresh look to the front of a property or kerb appeal, there are other great reasons to buy a new entrance door. And the choices available extend to those looking for an affordable option or something more high-end.

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Aluminium entrance doors and front doors

Price, styling, sightlines and colour are all available when buying a new entrance door regardless of its material.

Enhanced security with a new door

Improvements in design, as well as hardware technology over the years, now mean doors are more secure than ever, and with an even bigger choice of opening, locking and operating options. Therefore, upgrade your door with any of the latest products and you get the latest tech with fingerprint hardware, surveillance and connection to home automation systems.

Even if you don’t need this level of technology, a new door compared to older models gives you more locking points, a better more secure design, components designed to withstand attack, the latest glass technology and an even bigger range of styles, designs and colours. All of the components going into a new entrance door are designed to last much longer too.

Lower energy bills, improved thermal and sound performance

With many sales messages around energy efficiency for new windows, front doors outperform your new windows by some margin.

The thick thermal panels or door slab whether solid or combined with glass gives you some of the lowest U-Values and some of the best door energy ratings. Replace an old door with one of the latest models and you’ll instantly notice a warmer and more comfortable hallway and noticeable improvements if your front door opens straight into your living space. This thermal performance also results in better noise insulation too.

Significant improvements in designs

Ongoing product enhancements over many years now mean doors come in substantial styles. As a result, most materials offer both contemporary and traditional styles. Some materials lean more to one than the other. Aluminium, steel and hybrid doors lean more towards the modern. Composite doors or timber doors favour the traditional. But broadly speaking there’s a significant choice with any material.

Even better, handles and hardware have come a long way and you don’t need the traditional lock and handle as one unit. You can even get architectural grade handles in a choice of sizes, designs and metals enhancing the look of the front door compared to older versions.

A new entrance door now lasts longer

Improved and more stringent quality standards, a more durable design and advances in product testing now mean a new entrance door lasts longer than previous models.

The paint coatings, the glass, material quality and significantly better components overall make new front doors more reliable and dependable with reduced maintenance too.

Aluminium entrance doors and front doors

contemporary aluminium front door in a brick-built house
The Dutemänn Haus aluminium door using high end profiles, panels and hardware

Compared to PVCu or composite doors aluminium entrance doors offer substantial benefits, although they do cost more. Expect to pay between £1500 and £3500 for an aluminium front door but prices vary for a number of reasons.

First of all is the quality of the aluminium profiles. Some products use top-end profiles such as Schuco and Reynaers, two of the better aluminium systems on the market. Then is the quality of the components. An aluminium entrance door comes with slimmer and more discreet hinges and some even have these completely concealed. Aluminium front doors are also the slimmest with much narrower frame profiles than PVCu, composite, hybrid or timber doors.

Aesthetically, aluminium front doors look better than PVCu and composite doors. They also feel more solid and robust. There are no welded frame joints, the glass lines are neater and they don’t attempt to look like the genuine article. Even better with an aluminium door are the more flexible sizes. They go wider and taller than other materials, therefore doing away with side or top panels.

Examples of popular aluminium front doors are Dutemann, Origin, Smart Systems Designer, Spitfire and Hormann. At the very top end check our Pirnar or Urban Front.

Aluminium entrance doors when first designed have integration with other windows and doors built-in. This means that they can be coupled to other windows easily creating multiple assemblies and can also be coupled to sliding doors if required. Finally is the extensive choice of colours and locking options.

The other benefit of choosing aluminium doors is it’s much easier to match the profiles to other doors around the home, something more difficult to do with other door types.

Hybrid front doors

modern grey hybrid entrance door in a timber house
Velfac hybrid front door with aluminium outside and fine wood inside

Hybrid doors or windows offer something over and above aluminium front doors. These luxurious products use aluminium outside and wood inside. Prices start at around £2900 for a front door going up to £4000 depending on how it’s specified and configured. However, the benefits are well worth the extra cost.

First of all are the many different design options making these suitable for most property types and these are the doors used by developers of luxury high-end homes. Low maintenance aluminium outside combines with real wood inside. The look and feel of these doors is quite special.

Even better with a hybrid entrance door is its outstanding build quality, superb insulation and inside a wonderful warm-to-the-touch feel. The wood options inside start with timber going up to ash, oak, mahogany and walnut. Velfac, Internorm, Rationel, Westcoast all make excellent products.

Composite Doors

composite front doors in a wood design to a cottage
One of the better composite door brands, made by Solidor

How good a composite door is very much depends on the brand. There are some excellent products on the market. There are also some quite cheap products often used in new build homes and fading within a short period of time. Prices for composite doors depend on the brand, its construction, colour, glass and hardware chosen, but expect to pay around £1200-£1500 supplied and fitted for a decent brand like Endurance or Solidor. Anglian, Everest and Safestyle all provide these and you’ll also frind them in builders merchants. Other brands are Distinction, Trudoor or Door Stop. Overall, composite doors are a good choice for those on a budget.

These by far, dominate the residential entrance door market with varying degrees of quality.  The cheaper end of the composite door market consists of doors with a GRP or glass reinforced plastic core or internal foam core.  The outer frame of these doors is any of the PVCu profiles on the market.

The quality end of the market has doors with solid timber cores, marketed for their high security as each core consists of solid wood and therefore much harder to damage and force entry. The nice thing about composite doors is the styles and colours and they also come as stable doors – something not possible with aluminium.

There are a wide variety of styles and options on composite doors to suit traditional or modern properties.  Composite doors are normally fabricated with an internal and external decorative skin with glazing being in the form of glazed “cassettes” that bolt onto the door skin.  The fixings on these cassettes can often be visible and of either high or questionable quality, varying from supplier to supplier. The good news around the better brands of composite doors is their high quality locks and consistent claims around security. These are indeed secure doors.

One drawback of composite doors is that the sizes are governed by the sizes of the slabs.  Narrow doors often found in cottages are a problem for many composite door products as the panels cannot be made small enough to suit the aperture.  Similarly, oversize or tall doors are restricted for the same reasons.

There are some reported issues with dark coloured composite doors suffering expansion in hot weather causing locking and latching issues.  Others have reported possible fading when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.

Steel Entrance Doors

a new entrance door made from steel to a luxury house
Steel doors are some of the priciest but also offer the best in security and strength

Steel doors are not often seen when visiting the mainstream double glazing showrooms being the choice of specialist front door companies. These types of doors are  amongst the best front doors that you can buy for quality, longevity and overall strength. Prices start at around £2500 going up to £10000 or more for the ultra-high end products.

The weight, operation and high quality construction of steel doors is often evident as soon as they are seen or opened/closed for the very first time.  Designs are flexible, hardware options are extensive as are the opening options, even coming as pivot front doors. Steel doors remain the choice of luxury homes and discerning buyers. Where many components on other materials are screwed or riveted or with brackets, most steel doors utilise welding in their design.

Just like aluminium, steel doors have excellent thermal performance, acoustics and security but with steel being so strong, you’ll get the very best performance across all areas with a steel door, longevity being one of the key features.

Timber Front Doors

oak timber front door in a surrey mansion
The very best in long-lasting timeless doors, shown here, a Bereco product

Timber doors are arguably the best in luxury and proven to stand the test of time. Now available in modern as well as traditional styles, prices supplied and fitted start at around £2000 going up to £6000 or more. You can buy cheaper from builders merchants such as Jewson, Howdens, Wickes or Travis Perkins and arrange your own fitting, although these aren’t as good quality as the more premium brands.

The quality brands include Bereco, Urban Front, London Door Company, Accoya and many others. The quality is first class, the attention to detail like no other product. You’ll find many of these made to order in all manner of styles and designs. Character properties look their best with a real wood door and despite other materials, wood is the most authentic. One only needs to look at the many original wood doors sill in operation and functioning perfectly after many decades. Some doors still in use today are over 100 years old.

They’re also environmentally friendly with most manufacturers part of professional and responsible sourcing.

Like any natural material, it may need maintenance but do not be fooled by marketing tactics stating that wood doors are a high maintenance product.  Today’s modern manufacturing and paint coatings available mean that timber doors are available with long guarantees on performance and their finish.

Damage the surface finish on a timber door and yes, you’ll get degradation of the timber underneath. Do the same damage to an aluminium door with a powder-coated finish and the same thing happens over time. So all coated products need maintenance is the pro-tip here.

PVCu Entrance Doors explained

new entrance door in white pvcu with matching side panels
The cheapest and most basic option is a PVCu door

A new PVCu entrance door is the most basic and affordable option. Buy something like this from Wickes or similar builders merchants and prices start as low as £300 before fitting. Supplied and fitted, expect to pay around £800-£1200. All PVCu brands such as Liniar, Rehau, Deceuninckck, Kommerling, Duraflex, Anglian, Everest and Safestyle offer this option.

PVCu front doors are best for those wanting to spend the least amount of money or for rental properties needing a refresh. They come in either fully glazed or with a decorative panel and matching side or top panels if required. You’ll also get options such as a mid-rail, letter box and a good lock with at least five locking points and operated by lever/lever or lever/pad handles.

Whilst the most simple of front doors, composite doors are a better option being more robust and ageing better. Historically, the security aspect of panelled entrance doors has been an issue.  The infill panels used in entrance doors largely comprised two external skins of upvc with a simple foam/polystyrene core.  Some regard these as unsafe as it’s possible with very cheap doors to kick in the door panel with little effort depending on its quality.

More information and where to buy a new entrance door

You’ll find many of the mainstream and popular brands in good window showrooms. When you want a more bespoke entrance door, the specialist front door suppliers give you an even wider choice.