Where to start
With so many door materials, styles and colours to choose from, picking the right door can seem daunting, so I recommend listing your functional, physical and emotional requirements.
This can be as simple as wanting to keep the dogs and children in or out of the house while maintaining a flow of fresh air and light to future-proofing your entrance with a wider opening, low threshold and ergonomic handle. Consider, too, practicalities such as which way you want the door to open.
Also, while you may already be aware of the security features associated with modern entrance doors, what about thermal performance? Given the rising cost of energy, you want to be sure that your investment will boost the energy efficiency of your home.
Let’s start with the material used to construct your door. Budget and design criteria will often dictate your choice of door material, with aluminium at the top end of the scale and PVC-u suited to the more budget conscious. The UK door industry has expanded so much recently that there’s now an option for everyone.
The PVC-u door market, for example, has been overtaken by the composite door. They are available in a greater number of styles, colours and designs and will suit a wider variety of properties, while a dual colour option also allows you to complement both the interior decor and exterior.
The material will also impact the performance of the door. Some door types will have a void in the panel, while others will have a solid timber or glass-reinforced plastic core. This can affect the thermal efficiency and security of the door, both key factors in the decision-making process.
It may only be one small element in the fabric of your home, but your entrance door can impact the overall thermal performance of your home. Often opening onto a hallway and giving access to other rooms and floors, it would be easy to lose heat through an inefficient entrance door.
Like white goods, a door (known as a doorset in the industry – including the door slab, frame and glass) is rated using a Doorset Energy Rating (DSER), graded A++ to E. The DSER considers solar gain, thermal transmittance and air leakage.
Used to determine the DSER, U-values are a good indicator of a door’s thermal performance and can provide valuable guidance in the selection process. It’s worth noting here that energy-efficiency requirements changed in June due to an amendment in Building Regulations, which included an uplift to Approved Document L.
The changes may impact anyone undertaking a self-build, renovation, extension or home improvement project. If you’re looking to introduce new or replace doors in an existing property, for example, then the required U-value for a doorset has improved from 1.8 to 1.4.
If you are building a new home or converting a commercial building, warehouse or barn into a dwelling, then you will need to meet the requirement of Building Regulations (in England) Approved Document Q (security – dwellings). In part, the security requirements relate to doors at the entrance to a building. They must have been manufactured to a design that has been tested to an acceptable security standard.
You can exceed the requirements of Approved Document Q by choosing a Secured by Design entrance door, which has been rigorously tested and certified by a third party.
Secured by Design (SBD) is a Police security initiative operated by the UK Police Service and provides a recognised standard for all security products that deter and reduce crime – the Police-preferred specification.
Once you’ve established the required practicalities and performance, it’s time for the fun part, selecting your door style. As a rule, it’s best to stick to a design that complements the architecture of your home. The look and period of your property can help determine a modern or traditional door style. But if you wish to be bold, choose the design you like most and best suits your lifestyle.
Many door suppliers, particularly composite door suppliers, have a huge selection to choose from. Some suppliers also offer an online door design configurator, and I can’t recommend this enough. Have a play – see what works, what doesn’t and what you like best. Some platforms also allow you to upload a photograph of your property to augment reality – a great tool for those who find it hard to visualise.
Light and bright
When choosing a door style, don’t underestimate the importance of natural light. We are increasingly aware of the associated benefits to our health and wellbeing, and while you may have factored this in elsewhere in your project, it can be easy to overlook at the entrance. The desire for natural light will influence your choice of door style, glass type and design, and whether a fan or side lights should be considered.
You can choose from double or triple glazing, with some suppliers offering triple-glazed, laminated glass as standard. Many also offer glass options to help with thermal efficiency and security. For added peace of mind, obscure or opaque glass may be preferable but also think of adding a blind within the glass unit.
Where possible, I would always recommend visiting a door showroom before committing. This will help you determine the quality of the door material, get a true representation of the colour and finish, and appreciate the ergonomics of the hardware – handle, knocker etc.
Remember to take your plans or photographs of the build in progress or existing building; a reputable supplier can then guide you through the options and help you make the right choice.