Front Door Buyer’s Guide
A detailed guide of what you need to know when it comes to buying and replacing front doors – from material choice to airtightness and security ratings
Although timber remains the most widely used material for front doors, due to its natural beauty and ability to suit any style of house, issues with twisting and warping and their tendency to stick when the weather changes can be a problem. There is also some degree of maintenance required to keep them looking good. Choosing a hardwood, or a product such as hemlock – a sturdy North American softwood – will lessen, although not eliminate, the chances of movement.
Among the best options for a fully stable timber door is to choose an engineered timber, consisting of smaller sections of wood that have been glued together at angles to one another to reduce movement. Another alternative is Accoya — a heat-treated timber that promises superior stability to hardwoods.
Usually made up of a GRP (glass-reinforced plastic, also referred to as fibreglass) facing with a core made of either polystyrene (‘hollow’), fibreglass or timber. Timber core doors offer better security — try maximising the core thickness (48mm is ideal).
There is a current trend in the contemporary design world for oversized (that is usually over 1m wide — significantly larger than standard) front doors. These add a real sense of drama to a façade and provide a stunning focal point. Inevitably they are a more expensive option than a standard off-the-shelf door, and considerations over their weight need to be made. They are best installed in a new build or substantial remodelling project, where their scale can be designed in from the off. Pivot doors can be oversized too, budget permitting. Specialists Urban Front supply pivot doors up to 1,200mm wide and 2,400mm tall.
For the first time, the security of front doors (on new homes only, not replacements) is now controlled by Building Regulations. Approved Document Q – published in October 2015 – gives guidance to manufacturers and homeowners on how to achieve the minimum standards. This guidance is based around compliance with PAS 24, a standard which measures door security against three minutes of forceful attack. Ideally, your replacement door should meet these requirements too.
Secured by Design is a police initiative started in 1989 that supports the principles of ‘designing out crime’ through physical security and processes. Look out for the Secured by Design designation on companies’ websites and products; the initiative awards these to products that pass police standards and tests.