A Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a Composite Door in 2022

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If you’re in the market for a new front door, chances are you’ve considered a composite door among your options.

There’s no denying the popularity of composite doors today. They outperform uPVC doors in almost every aspect and are far less problematic (and costly) than traditional timber doors. Composite doors offer a variety of options to satisfy most homeowners.

We’ve seen composite doors installed in a wide range of properties, from modest terraced houses to multi-million-pound dream homes. The versatility of this product makes it an ideal solution for any entrance door, suitable for almost any budget or taste.

Key considerations when buying a composite door

The market offers a vast array of composite doors, and like most products, their quality can vary. To help you avoid a potentially costly mistake, we’ve listed the key factors to consider when purchasing a composite door.

1. Deciding between foam-filled or solid core

What are foam-filled composite doors?

Foam-filled composite doors are the traditional method of construction for these doors. When composite doors first appeared in the mid-2000s, they typically featured a foam core with GRP-colored skins on the outside.

The foam inside generally consists of a mixture of hard materials (such as polyurethane) and softer foam, often reinforced with a timber sub-frame for extra rigidity and strength.

What are the benefits of foam-filled composite doors?

The main benefits of foam-filled doors are:

  • Highly energy-efficient, contributing to excellent thermal properties.
  • Cost-effective compared to solid-core alternatives.
  • Widely available, though quality can vary significantly.

What are solid core composite doors?

Solidor introduced a solid timber core door in the late 2000s, setting it apart with its heavier and more robust feel. Despite having thermo-plastic skins like foam-filled doors, the solid core provides a sturdier construction.

What are the benefits of foam-filled composite doors?

The main benefits of solid core doors are:

  • Stronger construction and a more substantial feel.
  • Higher cost due to more expensive materials.
  • Potential issues with thermal movement, particularly in extreme weather conditions.
  • Lower energy efficiency compared to foam-filled doors.

Summary

Foam filled:

  • Cheaper
  • More energy-efficient
  • Quality varies widely

Solid core:

  • Stronger construction
  • More robust feel
  • Prone to movement, making proper installation crucial

2) Design options

Today’s composite doors come in a wide range of designs, typically categorised into traditional and contemporary styles.

Traditional designs

Traditional designs often draw inspiration from classic Edwardian and Victorian doors, making them suitable for a wide range of properties, including modern ones. There’s also a significant demand for doors styled after 1930s properties, which feature distinctive looks that homeowners often want to preserve.

When choosing a design, consider the amount of glass in the door. This affects both security and light. For example, a narrow hallway might benefit from a design with a large glazing panel to let in more light. Conversely, if privacy is a priority, a solid door design or one with a smaller glazing aperture might be more suitable.

Contemporary designs

Contemporary designs have surged in popularity, featuring unique and creative styles inspired by modern architecture and the art deco period. Our top-selling contemporary design is the Milano door, which features an 1800mm stainless steel bar handle. For those seeking something truly distinctive, consider options like the Modena or the 5 Square Curved.

Bespoke options

For those needing something more customized, certain manufacturers offer stable door and French door options. We recommend the Solidor product line for bespoke needs, including arched composite doors, which are especially popular for 70s and period homes.

3) Colours

In the past, most composite door manufacturers offered only five colour choices. However, by 2022, the range of colours has expanded significantly, providing homeowners with a broad spectrum of options. Our Solidor range boasts an impressive 27 colours.

All the doors we supply can be colored on both sides, and you can mix and match these colours. This flexibility is important, as some composite doors are still only available with a white interior.

Top Tip: If you select a door with a different colour on the outside and white on the inside, the central spine (where the locking strip is) will likely be white. It’s also crucial to check this if you order a door with colours on both sides, as the central spine often isn’t colour-matched and will typically be a standard colour like black, white, or caramel (for wood effect doors). While most customers might not notice this detail, it can be an aesthetic concern for some.

Bespoke/ RAL colours

Some companies offer bespoke colour services, typically using the RAL colour chart. This option is ideal for customers seeking a unique colour or wanting to match their door with existing elements like a garage door or fascia.

However, we advise caution when choosing this path. RAL-colored doors are sprayed, which makes the finish less durable compared to ‘through colour’ doors, where the colour is injected into the door skin, making it more hard-wearing.

Doors endure a lot of wear and tear, especially in busy households with bags, keys, and prams frequently coming into contact with them. A sprayed RAL-colored door, if marked, will likely show the white door skin underneath, leading to higher maintenance. It’s wise to ask your supplier for some touch-up paint when you order the door.

If your door has a low aluminum threshold, check with your supplier if it’s also sprayed. Since thresholds are walked on daily, a painted finish is unlikely to last. We recommend opting for a low threshold with a standard powder-coated aluminium finish if possible.

4) Security

All entrance doors must comply with certain building regulations, but it’s surprising what some manufacturers can still manage to get away with.

A common concern is the glass area on a front door being a potential entry point for intruders. However, it’s rare for burglars to smash the glass to gain access. According to a 2020 survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a staggering 76% of attempted burglaries on residential homes targeted the front door. The most frequent point of attack was the lock.

Composite doors typically come with a ‘Euro cylinder’ or ‘barrel’ lock, which many people are familiar with. These locks can be picked, snapped, ‘bumped,’ or even drilled out, compromising the door’s internal locking mechanism. Euro cylinders are graded from 1 star to 3 star, with varying levels of quality and security.

Shockingly, many UK manufacturers still use 1 star cylinders for composite doors, and even for high-end products like bi-folding and sliding patio doors. This means you could spend thousands on a premium product, only to have it secured by a lock that costs as little as £2.50.

How can I ensure my composite door is secure?

We strongly recommend choosing a door with a 3-star cylinder lock. This is the highest security rating available, meeting enhanced security standards such as PAS24, Document Q (required for new builds), and Secured by Design (a standard developed with the UK police force).

3-star cylinders come with anti-pick and anti-bump features and are often designed to snap intentionally when attacked. This means the cylinder breaks in half deliberately, preventing exposure of the internal locking mechanism and making the door impossible to open.

Among the various 3-star cylinders on the market, all our Solidor doors come with the 3-star Ultion cylinder from Brisant. Released after several years of development, the Ultion cylinder is widely regarded in both the door and locksmith industries as the most secure cylinder available. It has received almost every award a lock can earn, making it an obvious choice for ensuring the highest security for our doors.

Finding reputable brands

Just as you wouldn’t typically invest in a car from an unfamiliar brand, it’s prudent to approach composite doors with the same level of caution. This is because many smaller fabricators source inexpensive composite slabs from overseas, often resulting in a lack of consistency in quality. While some fabricators maintain high standards, it can still feel like a gamble.

Opting for reputable brands based in the UK ensures confidence in the manufacturing process and sourcing of materials. Solidor are among the most recognised and trusted names in the UK composite door market. However, there may be other manufacturers that better suit your specific requirements. Here are some reputable UK-based manufacturers to consider:

  • Solidor
  • Door Stop
  • Rock Door
  • Apeer
  • Virtuoso
  • Endurance

Guarantees

It’s commonly expected that any reputable composite door should be backed by a 10-year guarantee, but it’s crucial to delve into the fine print. While the 10-year period often covers the main door and frame, components such as hardware, moving parts, and glass may have separate warranty terms.

Interestingly, these are the components most likely to require replacement over the span of a decade, rather than the door or frame themselves. Therefore, it’s important to exercise caution when making your selection. Common items that may need replacement include hardware (such as door furniture prone to pitting or corrosion), perishable gaskets, and hinges. Ensure you thoroughly review the guarantee’s fine print; if certain items are only covered for a short period, you may incur charges down the line.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that many of these common issues stem from inadequate door maintenance. Maintaining a composite door doesn’t require much effort; occasional cleaning with soapy water to prevent hardware corrosion and annual oiling of hinges should suffice. Some manufacturers may void warranties if the door isn’t properly maintained, so it’s essential to keep this in mind.

Popular Recommendations

We trust that this article has provided valuable insights to aid in your decision-making process. Here are some final recommendations drawn from prevalent buying trends we’ve observed:

  1. Solidor Ludlow 2
  2. Solidor Flint Beeston GB
  3. Solidor Palermo

Interested in Receiving a Quote?

If you’ve made it this far and are considering a composite door, it would be a missed opportunity not to give us a try! We’ve been at the forefront of online composite door sales since 2008, offering comprehensive assistance and advice.

Explore our Solidor range today, featuring a wide variety of colors and designs, including stable, French, and arched doors.

For any questions, feel free to contact us.

FAQs about purchasing a composite door

What distinguishes foam-filled from solid-core composite doors?

Foam-filled composite doors blend hard materials with foam, ensuring exceptional energy efficiency. Conversely, solid-core doors boast a timber core, imparting a sturdier feel albeit with a potential susceptibility to movement.

How do I select the appropriate design for a composite door?

With a plethora of options available, ranging from traditional Edwardian and Victorian styles to contemporary and bespoke designs, it’s essential to consider factors like glass area for light, privacy needs, and preferences for either traditional or modern aesthetics.

What should I understand about guarantees for composite doors?

While composite doors typically come with a 10-year guarantee for the main door and frame, it’s imperative to scrutinize the warranty for different components. Moving parts and hardware may have shorter coverage periods, so thorough inspection of the guarantee is advised.

How extensive are the colour options for composite doors?

The colour palette for composite doors has significantly expanded, with our Solidor range offering up to 27 colours, including the most recent Solidor colour additions for 2024. Additionally, bespoke and RAL colours may also be available to cater to individual preferences.

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