What is a composite door? One of the many questions you'll find yourself asking during the search for a new front door. As an option for your home, composite doors are enduringly popular, but what they actually are is less than obvious to most.
You'll find jargon aplenty when shopping for front doors, which can get in the way of making the right decision for your home, so we asked the experts to give us a break down of what a composite door is, what it's made from and how to decide if it's a good pick for your porch.
What is a Composite Door?
As the name suggests, a composite door is made from a variety of materials - however, while a range of doors could technically be referred to as composite doors, the term usually refers to a specific type of front and back door.
A rebate refers to a groove in the vertical edge of the door which creates a snug fit between the door and the frame, enhancing the door's thermal qualities.
“Typically, a composite front door has a glass reinforced plastic (GRP) skin which can be moulded to allow for a variety of styles and designs,” explains Ryan Schofield, Managing Director, Thames Valley Window Company.
The GRP skin helps make the doors extremely tough, rigid and waterproof.
The base of the door is typically a steel/metal with a polyurethane foam core. They can have either an extra insulating double rebate or a more simple single rebate.
What are the Benefits of a Composite Door?
Composite doors represent a practical choice for replacing a front door, as they are extremely durable and weather resistant.
“The exterior door structure of a composite door gives outstanding rigidity and stability,” a spokesperson at Eurocell tells us, “so unlike wooden alternatives there’s no risk of swelling, shrinking or warping and the door won’t stick or let in draughts.”
Composite doors also have high thermal efficiency, helping the home stay warm and be more energy efficient. Current building regulations require replacement doors with a U-value of 1.8 W/m2. Composite doors carry a low U-value and are very likely to exceed these requirements.
Thanks to the materials used, composite doors are also one of the best for home security.
As well as the practical benefits, composite front doors are often chosen for their aesthetic qualities. Due to the nature of GRP, the outer panels are much more versatile than the likes of PVCu, allowing for a wider range of colours available. They also come in a choice of styles and finishes, including timber effect, while not requiring the regular repainting and maintenance that timber doors need.
Are Composite Doors Better than PVCu Doors?
"Arguably, yes. Composite front doors have many benefits, which is why they are more expensive than PVCu front doors," says Ryan. Weighing up the benefits will depend on how much you want to spend.
PVCu doors can also have a high level of energy efficiency and security for the home, and are available in a wide range of styles, but they are simply outclassed by composite doors in all of these areas.
Overall composite doors' strength and high quality is what sets them apart from PVCu styles
How Much Does a Composite Door Cost?
Composite doors are a premium alternative to the likes of PVCu doors and as such you can expect a premium price. For a basic composite door, expect to pay from £1,100 upwards, including installation, but this can quickly increase depending on the brand, design and glazing you choose.
How Long do Composite Doors Last?
Look out for composite front doors with a guarantee - 10 years is a standard offering for many brands. However, a professionally fitted composite front door is designed to last much longer, and should endure around 20-30 years.
Are Composite Doors Worth the Money?
Thanks to their longevity and strong thermal properties, composite front doors represent good value for money.
For the environmentally-minded, the thought of buying a composite front door, plastic components and all, may be less than appealing. However, with its U-value reducing heat loss and therefore energy usage, and the potential to last for 30 years or more, they represent a savvy eco buy too.
Some companies also offer composite doors made from recycled plastics with low carbon footprints, further helping to lessen the impact of your purchase on the environment.
Hugh is Digital Editor of homebuilding.co.uk and has worked on a range of home, design and property magazines, including Grand Designs, Essential Kitchens, Bathrooms, Bedrooms and Good Homes. Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture and green homes, and moonlights as an interior designer, having designed and managed projects ranging from single rooms to whole house renovations and large extensions. He's currently renovating a Victorian terrace in Essex, DIYing as much of the work as possible. His current project is a kitchen renovation which involves knocking through walls and landscaping a courtyard garden.
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