Door dilemma: composite -v- uPVC – what’s the difference?

Doors have come on a long way in recent years, but it’s the subtle new features that can make a big aesthetic difference to your home.

So what is the difference between a composite door and a uPVC panel door?

COMPOSITE DOORS
Quite simply, composite doors are designed to look like a painted wooden door. They are a single door with an outer frame and a threshold. You can have a choice of colours both inside and outside. Visually, a composite door looks much more like a traditional wooden door.

Two examples of composite doors with sidelights. Smooth white uPVC outer frames and coloured wood effect traditional style composite doors.

uPVC DOORS
These come in two main options, either with a full panel (usually decorative) or they can have a midrail so the door can have a half panel at the bottom and glazing at the top. For panel doors, essentially instead of having glass in the door you have a panel. With a resi door you also have an outer frame and threshold. Resi doors can come in smooth or woodgrain foiled finishes.

Two examples of uPVC resi doors with door panels. LEFT: Half panelled door in oak effect foiled resi with midrail and decorative panel to lower section and matching glazed sidelight. RIGHT: Full panelled resi with decorative cottage style panel in smooth white.

In our opinion, panelled doors are a more cost effective solution but composite doors are much better looking!

One of the most obvious differences between a composite and a panelled door is the look of the panel. Despite much improvement over the years, panels still have a somewhat “moulded plastic” look about them. And because the panel is fitted into the door, you have a somewhat heavy framed look, almost a “door within a door” look. Sometimes you can see a gasket line between the actual door and the panel itself, too. Composite doors generally have a much better aesthetic overall.

A contemporary panelled door in black/brown with sidelights. Panelled doors have improved greatly in recent years – this example is stylish and modern. But because the panel is fitted into the door, you have a heavy framed aesthetic which looks almost like a “door within a door”.

HOW DO THEY COMPARE ON PRICE?
A panelled door is more cost effective than a composite, so if you are on a tight budget and really want that new front door then the panelled option might allow you to do this. To be perfectly honest though, we would always recommend you opt for a good composite front door if you can, even if it means having to wait a while. Many customers get their windows replaced and then will have a new front door installed the following year or a few months later.

HALF PANELLED DOORS
These are more popular than a full panelled door and depending on the choice of panel, can actually look quite stylish. Panels are available in a range of colours with either flat or decorative options and are a cost effective choice for both front and back doors.

Half panelled doors. LEFT: Smart looking resi with midrail in Irish oak foil. Decorative moulded panel to lower section, glazed with leaded stained glass to top section. Gold lever handle and letterplate. RIGHT: Smooth white resi with midrail. Decorative moulded panel to lower section, glazed in obscure glass to top section. Complementary sidelights. White lever handle and letterplate.

THE YALE-STYLE RIM LATCH = KISS GOODBYE TO LEVER HANDLES ON YOUR COMPOSITE DOOR!
Multi-point locking doors have always been defined by their lever handles, there’s been no getting away from the fact; the handle is used to engage the multi-point locking system. Traditional wooden doors would have a Yale (or similar style) rim latch lock, where you would pull the door shut when you left the house. Now stylish escutcheon multi-point rim latch locks are available for composite doors. Operated with a thumb-turn mechanism from the inside, which activates the multi-lock when you are in the house, these new locks are the perfect answer for a modern, maintenance-free traditional style front door.

Yale-style rim latch locks are now a popular choice on composite doors. Unlike a Yale lock though, the rim latch acts as a multi-point lock, securing the door into the frame at a number of points upon closure. Operated by a simple thumb-turn mechanism on the interior of the door, the multi-lock is engaged as soon as the door is shut (known as a slam-shut). This is the Winkhaus Heritage multi-lock which is available on our Hurst composite doors. Quick, simple, secure.

Still not sure which to choose? Why not get some expert advice and give us a call on (020) 8868 1133 – we will be more than happy to talk you through all the different options available to you.

We hope to hear from you soon! 🙂

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Ruislip Windows

Based in Eastcote, Middlesex, Ruislip Windows and Doors are a respected local installer specialising in replacement windows, doors and conservatories in both uPVC and aluminium. Proud to be celebrating over 30 years in the business, the company was established back in 1986 by John Flynn, a City and Guilds qualified carpenter and double glazing installer. Originally trading as Ruislip Building Ltd, we became Ruislip Windows and Doors Ltd in May 1995 to better reflect our business. As the company grew and became more experienced, we undertook increasingly more challenging contracts and our portfolio continued to develop and expand. Now, over three decades since we first began, our installations range from the local domestic market to large commercial contracts. As professional installers with a reputation for quality and integrity, we choose our products very carefully, ensuring that our customers will benefit from the latest in technical and security specification. To this end, we install a range of products from trusted leading manufacturers, guaranteed to provide you with a top quality product that you will enjoy and benefit from for many years to come.

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