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Are composite doors better than UPVC?

No matter how skilled you are, it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of the products you are using or suggesting to your customers. While low-maintenance fibreglass and steel front door trends continue to get more and more popular, composite and UPVC doors remain market leaders with UK homeowners.

You will be pleased to know there are a range of benefits that come with replacing their external doors, including increasing thermal efficiency and beefing up the security of their property.
We’ve prepared this expert guide to help you understand the differences between UPVC and composite doors, plus some tips when it comes to installing them.

uPVC door vs composite door

What is the difference between UPVC and composite doors?

The difference between UPVC (un-plasticised Poly Vinyl Chloride) doors and composite doors is the material used in their construction. UPVC doors became popular in the 1980s and are made from an insulated frame sealed in plastic.

Composite doors followed in the late 1990s, and combine various materials pressed and glued together under high pressure to create one single structure. Materials include glass reinforced plastic (GRP), insulating foam, UPVC and wood.

Benefits of UPVC doors

UPVC doors are ideal for homeowners on a tight budget as they are significantly cheaper than composite doors. They require little upkeep and are easy to clean — a wipe down with warm soap and water often does the job.

Another big advantage is their thermal efficiency. UPVC doors trap heat indoors during cold snaps, and keep unwanted heat out during the summer months, reducing energy bills.

If security is an important factor, UPVC doors are extremely tough to break as they are built with a galvanised steel core. Many UPVC doors also include a 5-point high security locking system, offering a higher level of defence over a traditional single-point locking system.

These types of doors also offer longevity. UPVC doors can withstand extreme weather conditions, helped by the fact all of the mechanisms are concealed within the frame. If a UPVC door is well looked after, it typically has a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

In the past, colour options for UPVC doors were typically restricted to black or white, but there are now more options available. You can also find options with decorative glass panels.

UPVC door

Disadvantages of UPVC doors

UPVC doors are generally suited for modern builds, and typically look out of a place on a more traditional or period property. Their styles are limited compared to composite doors.
UPVC doors are robust but their lightweight nature means they can be prone to sagging and sashing. Exposure to too much heat can rupture the UPVC frames.
Over time, UPVC doors can discolour and become yellow in appearance. If this happens, you can use an Allcoat exterior paint to bring them back to life.

Benefits of composite doors

Twice as thick as UPVC with a solid timber or condensed GRP (foam) core, composite doors can take more impact than UPVC doors. The combination of materials and their unique properties results in an exceptionally durable, versatile and weather-resistant composite door.

Like UPVC doors, composite doors are easy to maintain, only needing an occasional wipe down to keep clean and a drop of the oil on the hinges.

Composite doors are available in a wide range of styles and colours. Composite doors won’t react to seasonal changes, meaning they won’t discolour or fade over time. A quality composite door has an average lifespan of about 30 years.

For the environmentally-conscious, most composite doors have an A or A+ energy rating through their efficiency in retaining heat and reducing heat loss.

Composite door

Disadvantages of composite doors

As the manufacturing process for composite doors is complicated and involves more materials, they cost more than their UPVC alternatives. This process also causes them to expand and contract more than a standard white UPVC door. Composite doors will naturally swell and expand when exposed to long periods of sunlight

Top tips for fitting UPVC doors

Follow these top tips when fitting UPVC doors to ensure they are correctly installed. Remember though, every project is different - seek appropriate specialist advice if needed and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.

1.    Measure the brickwork opening in at least three different places. Do not measure the existing door or frame. Take three measurements horizontally (top, middle, and bottom) before deducting 10mm from the smallest measurement to give your width. Take three measurements vertically (left, middle, and right) before deducting 10mm from the smallest measurement to give your height. This 10mm deduction gives you fitting leeway.
2.    If you need to remove the old door, check it will not harm the building’s structural integrity. Brush away any loose debris or mortar, along with any of the old sealant.
3.  Before fixing the frame, make sure the door is plumb and level using packers and spirit levels. Drainage holes should be at the bottom of the frame.
4.  Drill fixing holes in the side of the frame and secure it in position. Use at least five fixings per jamb, and take care not to overtighten the screws, as this could distort the door frame. Quality shims are a great way to stop any movement and any slight adjustments.
5.  It’s necessary to toe and heel glaze when fitting a UPVC door. Toeing and heeling is essentially using the glass to reinforce the door — the frame should be secure enough to take the weight of the sash without bowing or dropping

Top tips for fitting composite doors

Correctly fitting a composite door will enable your customers to enjoy its many benefits. We’ve put together five handy tips for installers to ensure a professional installation. Seek appropriate specialist advice if needed and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
1.  It’s recommended that at least two people install composite doors, due to the heavy parts.
2.  To reduce exposure to the elements, set the door’s outer frame as far as possible. The frame should be secured into the brickwork using industry-standard plastic-sheathed frame fixing bolts.
3.   Use a spirit level to ensure the jambs are square and plumb in all planes, guaranteeing a secure and precise fit. 
4. To stop draughts and prevent water from leaking in when it rains, always apply a perimeter sealant. If the property is near a main road, look for a perimeter seal that also offers some acoustic dampening.
5. Once installed, use an Allen key (‘hex’ key) to adjust the hinges and ensure smooth operation.
Jewson supplies a wide range of composite doors and UPVC doors for your project or next job. Manufactured with durability in mind, they provide a wonderful addition or transformation for any property.
Don’t forget every project is different. Products, materials and services that we mention may not be suitable. Where necessary, work should be carried out by a qualified professional. We recommend seeking expert advice if needed, and following manufacturers instructions. Don’t forget to check your work is compliant with any relevant laws or regulations. 

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