What you need to know about Aluminium steel look doors

Who makes the best aluminium steel look doors? Aluco, Alitherm, Reynaers and aïrMOD are the four best products for Crittall® style doors and the Heritage, Art-Deco and industrial look. There are also others on the market to consider. We explain everything you need to know about aluminium steel-look doors, what to look for to get the right look, and how to find the right supplier.

aluminium Crittall style door in black in a traditional house
Black Alitherm aluminium steel-look door supplied by Newlite Home Improvements, Sussex

Aluminium steel look doors explained

Whether described as Industrial, Art-Deco, Heritage, Steel-look or Crittall style doors, these products promise the on-trend slim frames, the popular black finish and the styling of classic metal doors.

These doors also take inspiration from the period steel doors with other features such as the plate behind the handles, minimalist hinges, deep bottom rails and the applied bars to the glass.

Virtually all products on the market take these original steel door design hues and mimic them. Some, do it better than others. As a result, aluminium steel-look doors work in virtually any property style and age. Whilst certainly a trend in glazing right now, there is a timeless and classic appeal to this design of doors just like the genuine steel product.

You also get the latest in aluminium door and profile technology. Thermally insulated frames, high specification safety glass, multi-point locking and excellent weather sealing. These are just some of the standard features across all aluminium steel look doors for exterior use.

Black remains the most popular colour although dark grey and even white looks just as good. We’ve also seen examples in other colours and these too work well.

origin aluminium steel look doors in a bifold design
An example of Origin’s standard slim bifolding door product with applied bars only.

Understanding a basic aluminium door vs a steel-look

It’s essential you know the different versions these doors come in.

Some suppliers provide a standard aluminium door and apply glazing bars to the glass only. And that’s it. The handles, other hardware and aluminium profiles are no different to a non-steel-look product. There’s nothing wrong with these doors and many buyers are certainly happy with this arrangement. However, there’s a visible difference between these otherwise standard doors and the best steel-look doors designed in a similar way to the original steel product.

The best aluminium steel-look doors come with a stepped detail to the profiles.

Deciding between Crittall style doors vs aluminium steel look doors

Only Crittall Windows provide a genuine product for sightlines and the 100% steel look. As well as this brand, you’ll find suppliers of other steel products. It’s only steel that’ll deliver exactly this slimline style with the grid-like pattern and there are other differences between aluminium and steel.

Cost is a factor for many homeowners and its here, aluminium steel look doors provide a much cheaper alternative. Aluminium also looks different compared with the genuine steel product also due to aluminium doors being mechanically joined and steel being welded.

Aluminium steel-look doors will give you a similar look but are in no way ‘Crittall replacements’.

The glazing bars on steel-styled doors

steel-look sliding doors
Close-up detail of slimline glazing bars

The thickness of the glazing bars you get on these door types very much depends on your supplier and how they choose to offer the product.

Generally speaking, aluminium steel-look glazing bars come with a 41mm transom to line through with the door rails. We know other better suppliers using a 35mm or 25mm slimmer bar and some models even use a 20mm bar. The thickness of the bars giving the multi-panel look is down to personal preference and also what words best with the particular system. More important is that the bars in the doors run through consistently with the sidelights.

There are some other products that do this ‘bar’ arrangement badly with thicker sightlines than expected. Bear in mind these are aluminium doors so you will not get the variety of bars on the genuine steel product.

For instance the Innervision, Homelight range, Berkley etc in steel come with glazing bar sizes ranging from 19mm, 26mm, 30mm. Again it’s worth stressing these are aluminium products not steel. Only steel gives the authentic slim lines. Therefore, a good supplier offering 25mm bars is giving you a better product aesthetically.

How to design aluminium steel look doors

The current generation of steel look doors in aluminium offers all the benefits of modern glazing with the classic look of period doors.

Insulated aluminium frames, high specification glass units, durable powder-coated finishes and latest specification locking systems are just some. So you’re not compromising on energy efficiency, weather performance or security. Here’s some other features you get.

  • Doors are suitable for installation as internal or external doors.
  • Can open in or out.
  • Can couple to sidelights and top glazed panels.
  • Are available with run-through mullions and transoms for a consistent appearance and matching glass pattern.
  • Substantial colour choices although black remains the most popular.

The steel look is a great way to add a metal screen or door to your home that makes a real statement, especially in the right colour such as black. The other advantage is how much natural light they bring into a room and creating privacy, with a real sense of space. Estate agents call this ‘broken living’, where you can define a zone in the home yet retain the open, airy feel.

Steel look doors with matching screens do not just have to be used for external use or to separate a conservatory. We have helped homeowners create beautiful fixed windows between the hallway and the sitting room. They make great looking room dividers, even shower enclosure screens and glazed partitions. Don’t forget the thermally insulated aluminium and quality glass units that will also make them energy saving.

Security of aluminium steel-look doors.

You may see information on company websites or be told by a salesperson that doors meet the required security standards. There are many badges and labels from Secured By Design and other testing organisations and institutes, relevant to door security but not necessarily to the type and style of door you are about to buy.

It is important we make you aware that not every one of these types of doors has been security tested.  While you may read that residential doors are accredited to say, Secured by Design, always ask your installer for details of the security test.  Not every version of a residential door is tested. By version, we mean:

  • The door configuration such as whether it is a single door or double door set.
  • Whether the door has a sidelight or just a full frame.
  • The type of safety glass fitted – laminated, toughened and the glass/unit thickness.
  • The size of door tested.
  • Whether the door opens in or out.

Smart Systems tells us that their Alitherm Heritage door is not security tested; this has also been verified by a number of their large and established manufacturers.  This does not mean that your door will be easy to break into or that you are getting a door that is not secure.  What this means is that this product has not been put through official security tests to obtain certification.  This may or may not affect your home insurance policy and we advise that you carry out the necessary checks.

buying steel-look bifolding doors
A Dutemann Schuco ASS70 in black steel-look supplied by Aspire Bifolds of Surrey

Steel look doors, designs and product options

Just like aluminium doors, there’s a lot of flexibility in available designs. As long as your doors fall within the design limitations of the system, such as maximum door widths or heights, there’s no reason why you can’t create the look you want.

It’s consistent sightlines that matter with these iconic door designs. Importantly, it’s where you’re having doors with sidelights where they need to line through and look the same. The same also applies to the surrounding sidelight frame. Ensure the lines are consistent throughout the door set. Is it essential? No, but it certainly makes for a better-looking product once installed.

black aluminium Crittall style doors in a kitchen

Single or double Crittall style doors

Shown above, a set of double doors and single doors with sidelight. The secondary leaf of the doors still has the thick lock plate design but no handles. This door is operated by hidden flush bolts.

An excellent solution to terraced or smaller homes with existing French doors or smaller doorways.

Black steel look doors, made by Duration Windows and fitted by Open Living of Hertfordshire.

black aluminium steel look doors in a kitchen extension

Aluminium steel-look French doors with side panels

One of the most popular designs for typical openings in new extensions. French doors with sidelights provide a balanced door set with symmetry. 

Available with equal or unequal panes, these designs work in any setting. Again, notice a well-designed product from an expert supplier comes with consistent slight lines to the rails and framing. 

Doors and framing installed by Newlite Home Improvements of East Sussex.

steel look doors in large screens

French doors and combination screens

It’s easy to also create substantial screens. This substantial home shows double doors with two sidelights either side and toplights above. 

Installation by Aspire Bifolds of Surrey – specialist installer of these aluminium systems.

Some of the best aluminium steel look doors

Right now, there are only a handful of system designed from the outset as steel look. Others simply add bars to an existing product. Whether these are authentic in look or even worthy of marketing as steel-look is subjective. Of course, budget plays a huge part in any property project. As a result, there’s nothing wrong in opting for something at the right price even if it’s not a true aluminium steel look door product. Here are the best of the present range of steel look products.

steel look doors separating a kitchen and lounge

aïrMOD series steel look doors

Available to the trade or, for homeowners via a quality dealer network is the aïrMOD system. 

Everglade Windows are one of the longest-established aluminium manufacturers, making steel look doors long before they were popular. As well as exterior doors are a range of matching windows and screens.

Crittall style interior doors

Aluco Aluminium steel look doors

Another well-known brand in steel look systems, windows, doors and bifolds are Aluco. Aluco steel-look products you’ll only find via a network of approved dealers. 

This system uses the Smart Alitherm system for exterior doors but the Aluco interior range of doors, screens and even sliding doors are some of the best.

These products are very well made, have excellent hardware choices, and of course look super stylish in the popular black matt finish.

duration steel look showroom

Duration Windows aluminium steel look doors 

Available to the trade or, for via the retail route are the steel look doors and windows made by Duration Windows. 

Another company with a long history in aluminium manufacturing, Duration also provide a full range of steel-look doors, windows and bifolding doors. 

Using Smart Systems but also making Aluk, there’s a host of these art-deco style products.

Smart Systems Alitherm Heritage or Heritage 47

black aluminium steel look doors in a country house

Unquestionably the most popular and one of the best for looks. Smart Systems Alitherm, Heritage or Heritage 47 is the product you see the most as you do your research. 

You can find this system as single or double doors, screens and windows. Image shows Alitherm steel look French doors and windows supplied and installed by Newlite Home Improvements. 

The Smarts Alitherm Heritage 47 System is, in our view, one of the most authentic-looking aluminium systems for the replacement of old steel doors. We first worked with the Smart Systems door as far back as 2013 when it was quite new in the market. The system was used to replace the old metal doors in a substantial Surrey house where the homeowner was insistent on retaining the look of her old Crittall doors. They were very much part of the overall house style.

Many of the products you’ll see are the Alitherm system under different brand names or re-engineered and improved.

The Smarts Alitherm Heritage 47 System is, in our view, one of the most authentic-looking aluminium systems for the replacement of old steel doors. We first worked with the Smart Systems door as far back as 2013 when it was quite new in the market. The system was used to replace the old metal doors in a substantial Surrey house where the homeowner was insistent on retaining the look of her old Crittall doors. They were very much part of the overall house style.

Many of the products you’ll see are the Alitherm system under different brand names or re-engineered and improved.

Visofold 6000 steel-look bifolding doors in a new extension

Aluminium steel look sliding and bifolding doors

If you are looking for sliding or bifolding doors with a steel look, again most systems use a standard slimline bifold with applied bars.

There is one product using the heritage sash found in French doors and these are the slimline Visfold 6000 model, but fitted with a different profile. The Visofold 6000 remains one of the best steel-look bifold doors.

Most installers will still offer an otherwise standard bifolding door. Do bear in mind there’s little available in the genuine steel product so aluminium probably provides the best solution here.

Read more about sliding doors in the heritage and steel look.

There’s also bifolding door products in the steel-look.

Aluminium Heritage, Art-Deco and contemporary steel-styled windows.

Frameless steel-look doors.

One of the most recent innovations in steel look systems is a frameless system. Shown here in an internal setting, this is a beautiful screen using only the minimum of aluminium profiles, with ingenious glass design. Made by Frameless Glass Curtains of Kent, this is another great product, giving the steel-look inside the home.