Composite doors are made from a combination of materials to offer a range benefits in terms of security, strength, longevity, thermal efficiency, low upkeep and aesthetics.
Components vary, though generally a composite door is formed with a wood core and insulating polyurethane foam set in a reinforced PVCu, wood or metal frame.
There will then be a weather-resistant skin that presents the finished look.
Read more: Design ideas for your front door
When the materials are factory finished, the resulting door is high performing and looks like real wood (or whatever aesthetic you’re going for).
Plus, composite doors come without the problems of weathering and warping caused by the natural expansion and contraction of solid timber.
The heart of the door is where its strength lies. The core slab could be made from a polymer subframe, hardwood or laminated veneer lumber (LVL), where layers of timber are cross-bonded for strength and rigidity. For instance, Endurance Doors have an LVL core with 17 cross laminations made from Nordic wood.
Timber solid core doors are often considered premium products. Just Doors are made with Nordic pine and Solidor uses hardwood from sustainable forests, with the option
to have a steel mesh overlay to make the product even stronger.
These solutions are around 48mm thick rather than the standard 44mm. If you’ve got a tricky opening to work with, opt for a door with tolerance to be trimmed, like the White Mexicano from DirectDoors.com. Otherwise, all Rockdoor’s composite designs are made-to-measure.
The most secure composite doors are UKAS PAS24: 2016 Certified, where tests have been carried out on the lock and the door’s strength to see how it stands up to unwelcome, heavy impact.
Secured By Design, a police security initiative, is another accreditation to look out for.
Solidor and Rockdoor’s products have three-star lock cylinders, the highest rating for security with the latter using S-Glaze technology, where the glass is part of the door so it can’t be prised out.
In addition, Solidor covers your home for up to £5,000 for uninsured losses if you buy one of their composite doors with a three-star Ultion cylinder and two-star LockLock handle.
Most composite doors come with a 10-year guarantee, with some companies, such as DirectDoors.com, typically offering a service life of around 25 years.
The majority of composite doors are finished with a compression moulded skin of glass reinforced polyester (GRP), a rigid structure that won’t warp over time. GRP is used in boat-making and is resistant to denting and colour fading.
Plus, it does not need repainting or re-staining, and can easily be wiped clean. GRP that has colour all the way through, like Safedoors’ products, means that wear and tear over time will be less noticeable.
Matheson & Brown and Solidor provide solid timber core doors finished in Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a durable thermo-plastic material that’s also used to make Lego.
Weekamp doors, available through DirectDoors.com, feature a 7mm Medite Tricoya weather resistant skin for a sleek, glossy finish. At the cheaper end of the market, products are finished in a hardwood veneer.
Once you start doing your research, you’ll discover that there’s an enormous range of designs, available in a variety of colours and wood grain effects, with options for panels and glass.
For example, go to Value Doors’ website and you’ll see “The Aberdeen” comes in 440 variations based on different glazing and colour options.
Some companies work hard to help ease the decision making process. With Endurance Doors, for example, you can use their design tool to pick the door type, frame shape, style, colour, glazing and finishes.
The result raises your enquiry to your three nearest suppliers. If you want to see how a front door would look in your home before you buy, Rockdoor has a design tool where you can see a product overlaid onto a picture of your property.