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Period Style Front Doors - Is it time to switch to contemporary materials?

New materials are being used to build front doors, below we look at how changes to the industry may affect which period door best suits your need.

Classic Victorian Style DoorIt is fair to say that in the world of front doors as with many other architectural and home design features, period styles are still very much in demand. In probability the majority front doors purchased in the UK owe their classic lines to designers and craftsmen who worked a long time before you or I were born.

Whether you prefer the larger more solid look and feel typical to the Georgian period, or you just simply couldn’t consider hanging a front door which didn’t incorporate elaborate Victorian stained glass – everyone has an image in their head of how their front door should look.

So we have established that period designs are still sought after. What about the decision of which material should be used to make each door? Not something much debated you might think. Traditionalist will argue wood, some might even go one step further and match wood type to period – oak to Victorian for example. But is it still appropriate to use 19th century materials for a product which can so greatly benefit from 21st century technology? Cue big inhales as thoughts go to UPVC products featuring black gaskets and shiny white frames.

No I am talking about the advancements in GRP or glass reinforced plastic to those not in the industry, a relatively recent addition to the composite doors market. Advancements made in the manufacturing process have meant that recreating classic period styles out of this material are now becoming more common. Not only is it possible, the final product actually stands up as direct competition to wood – not simply aligning itself with the more affordable option that UPVC is.

The traditionalists mentioned above may never come round to the idea of installing a new composite door. For some the feel and the ageing of natural wood will always outweigh any benefit which newer materials might bring. For most of the general public though, knowing more will help make a more informed decision when the time comes.

Edwardian style door

Natural wood with its graining and feel is a material which just can’t be reproduced. Add 50-100 years of use to this and a door gains a character all of its own, prompting questions such as ‘who it has seen come and go?’ and ‘who in the future might pass through its gate?’. A new GRP door cannot compete with the antique period doors for history, but advancements in manufacturing technology means stained or painted wood can easily reproduced. Grains are visible and even to touch the doors feel natural. Meaning that if it’s a natural finish which is making you lean slightly towards wood - GRP may be worth a bit more investigation.

Security may now have more of an impact on the door purchasing decision than ever before. 67% of home burglars enter through the front door. Most GRP doors are manufactured to strict regulations, Yale Composite Doors for example design and build their doors to adhere to’ Secured by Design’, a UK Police initiative for safer homes. Wooden doors, especially Georgian designs are certainly not flimsy. But certainly in a direct comparison GRP doors offer a much greater level of protection.

With household bills over the next year coming under more and more scrutiny due to the economic climate, minimising the amount of heat lost through the front door may become a slightly bigger issue. Heat loss will also be thrust into the limelight in October this year with the introduction of the door U value (a measure of the amount of heat lost through a door) an industry wide regulatory standard for all new doors. Classic period doors are notorious for the drafts they often let through. GRP doors on the other hand lead the way in regards to compliance, and are in fact the only type of door at the moment to adhere to the regulatory 1.8W/m2K (minimum).

I think the underlying message here is that when searching for your dream period door, your search should no longer be restricted to a single material. Of course for some of you the decision had already been made before reading this article and wood will always be the only material to choose. But if your mind isn’t made up yet it really is worth investigating the benefits which GRP composite doors can bring.