Residential Entrance Doors? What are the choices?

The residential home improvement market is strong in the sales of residential doors, with entrance doors forming the greater part of door sales.  There are a number of products available in entrance doors and consumers have a lot of choice and differences in prices.

A new entrance door is a reasonably cost-effective way to bring an instant transformation to a property and bring it up to date. Whether it is a traditional or modern home, the are a wide variety of doors available to suit, but is there a best product?

PVCu Entrance Doors

pvcu entrance door
A PVCu door is the cheapest available but may not have the aesthetic appeal of other materials.

These are by far the most cost effective replacement doors available on the market. For front doors they will normally be glazed with some kind of decorative panel, for side or rear doors they will normally comprise a mid rail and either glass above and below or a panel below the mid rail. All PVCu doors today comprise at least a five point multi point locking system operated by lever/lever or lever pad handles.

With the diversity of PVCu entrance doors available, no two doors are identical although in situ, they do look very similar.  Much of the aesthetic appeal will be determined by the choice of infill panel in pvcu doors.

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.  There were various reports of people gaining entry simply by kicking in the door panel.  Advances in panel design resulted in infill panels comprising a timber of steel core which reinforced the panel in some way, but theoretically, the door panel given enough force and time can still be forced out.

Composite Doors

composite doors
Composite doors form the majority of what you will see in double glazing showrooms but other options are available.

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 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.

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.

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 s 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.

Timber Doors

natural look of a wood door
Nothing beats the natural look of a wood door and nothing will last as long.

Timber doors are manufactured from high quality wood and are available in both modern and traditional styles.  Often made to order they can be manufactured in unlimited sizes and styles.  They form the high quality end of the market and are renowned for their long service life. 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.

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 coatings available mean that timber doors are available with long guarantees on performance and their finish.

Timber doors will be at the premium end of the market but they remain a natural and hard wearing product that will look good and perform for many years to come.

Steel Doors

a steel entrance door
A steel entrance door offers the ultimate in quality, thermal performance, long life and high security

Steel doors are not often seen when visiting the mainstream double glazing showrooms.  These types of doors are  amongst the best front doors that you can buy.

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.  There is very high quality construction in steel doors that utilise what is regarded as one of the strongest metals available on the market today.

Steel doors are available in a large range of designs and styles and come with high good thermal insulation, very high security and are guaranteed for long service life for many years to come.

Aluminium Entrance Doors

aluminium entrance door
Aluminium doors can also be manufactured to replicate any style whether modern or traditional

Aluminium Doors are available as either fully glazed, with horizontal and vertical rails and like pvc or steel doors are available with a wide range of decorative infill panels to achieve either a traditional, modern or contemporary design.

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.

The majority of door types available come with several options depending upon the application. Some examples are:

  • Wide choice of colours
  • Low threshold options for disabled access
  • Dual colour meaning different colours inside and out
  • A wide variety of hardware such as lever handles, pull handles, decorative or antique hardware
  • Electric locks and swipe card entry

There are very few showrooms that can demonstrate an entire range of entrance doors in all materials.

If you have already visited some double glazing showrooms, you may have noticed only one or two types of doors available such as composite doors and PVCu doors.  Often double glazing companies will put in their showroom what sells best for them and if you have a property that may suit a steel or timber door better you may not have the opportunity to view it.

It makes sense to shop around, search online and see what is best for your particular home and property.  Just because a showroom only shows you a composite door for example, this does not mean this is all you can have!

Some products such as steel doors and timber doors are to be found in dedicated specialist showrooms so please do your research and find the right door for your property not simply what your local double glazing company wishes to sell you.

By viewing and trying out the wide range of doors available, you will be able to make the best and most informed choice for your home.