What is a composite door and why are they so popular?

The composite front door has become very popular in recent years and today remains the best selling front door product by far. And there are good reasons why.

old upvc doors were criticised for their thick appearance and the risk of plastic panels being easily kicked in.

old upvc doors were criticised for their thick appearance and the risk of plastic panels being easily kicked in.

It was introduced to address many of the weaknesses of PVCu front doors which consisted of a standard plastic door but glazed with a decorative PVCu panel to give whatever effect the homeowner wanted for their property. But despite the popularity of the PVCu door, for many years the product was plagued with concerns including:

  • how easy it was for the polystyrene door panel to be kicked in despite the high security multi-point locking and the internal glazing beads.
  • how it was simply a panel in a bulky front door that made them look far too narrow
  • how earlier poor quality door panel upvc skins were prone to discolouration resulting in a yellow looking panel within a white front door

Composite doors made their introduction into the marketplace and thankfully “designed out” the many flaws of uPVC doors. The market was given a credible alternative to plastic doors that were stronger, more secure, more thermally efficient and much better.

Composite doors today are manufactured from different materials that include PVCu, engineered or solid timber, GRP that is Glass Reinforced Plastic and cheaper products with just foam.  Generally composite doors have a combination of materials that are pressed together and glued under very high pressure to create the finished door skin.  These will then be fitted with the different door hardware such as multi point locking, handles, glass vision panels and accessories such as letter plates, door knockers, spyholes and door numbers.

We must credit designers and manufacturers of composite doors in providing consumers a strong, secure and weather resistant front door that today will not fade, warp or twist and also provide impressive thermal characteristics and long life.  This has also been reinforced by the British Research Establishment giving a life expectancy of a composite door of approximately 35 years.

But what we must also remember is that a composite door is an imitation of a wooden door.   They’re manufactured and designed to look like a wood door, comprising textured and grained internal and external skins but marketed with all the advantages of virtually maintenance free and long life.  Does it matter that this is an  imitation product? This will depend on the individual customer.  There are also contemporary variations of composite doors as well.

It is up to you to decide whether a solid core door will be better than a GRP door. Both types are manufactured by excellent companies such as Double glazing Distinction Doors as examples and all composite door companies of course demonstrate the advantages of their own particular product.

Should I ignore the obvious advantages of a composite door?

A composite door will comprise a PVCu frame but will not match white powder coated aluminium that well

A composite door with sidelights and toplights in this design may be prone to rattling with some systems.

You shouldn’t.  The choice of front door will depend upon what you want, what you wish to spend and what product best suits your home. If a composite door is right for you then buy it. There is nothing wrong with composite doors and they’re a good product.

However it may be worth thinking about why you have decided to replace your windows and doors elsewhere in your home with aluminium.  It is because you have understood and have been made aware of the advantages of aluminium windows and doors, or you simply didn’t want PVCu from the outset.  Therefore why not ask your double glazing firm about other front door options?

Firstly, a composite door will comprise a PVCu outer frame.  Why accept a part PVCu product when you are enjoying all the advantages of slim lines, high strength and the high quality powder coated finish with your aluminium french doors, bifolding doors and windows.  Even if you opt for a composite door with a coloured PVCu outer frame, the finish of the product is nowhere near close to the powder coated finish of aluminium windows and won’t be an exact colour match either as the finishing processes for plastic profile and aluminium profile is completely different.

Be aware that some composite doors in PVCu frames with sidelights and toplights such as the one shown here may be prone to rattling and shaking when the door shuts.  It is the way PVCu doors and frames are coupled together that can cause this and because PVCu is a weaker material compared to aluminium or timber.  We have often been contacted by consumers who have replaced their old timber door in the same design and are very disappointed to find with their composite door that the whole screen can shake when they close the door.