The demand for the new generation of composite doors is growing rapidly and so to is their thirst for new and exciting foiled finishes as Mark Lofthouse, managing director of 3D Laminates and the pioneers of CoolSkin®, explains.
The composite door market is in a good place at present as the rapid growth of the likes of Endurance® Doors and Solidor has shown, with the expectation that this trend will continue for a good number of years, as the nation looks to replace the existing stock of first generation PVCu external doors.
These first generation PVCu doors have come to the end of their lifecycle and now we’re in an era where the composites are looking to dominate. When you consider how often we open and close our respective windows in comparison to a front door, then it sees a lot more traffic and obviously wear and tear. As a proud nation of our homeowners we want to make a more appealing and secure entrance to our homes.
Indeed, we are experiencing cases where installation companies are replacing front doors for neighbour after neighbour in certain streets and roads around the country. While their respective windows may look the same to the untrained eye, their choice of hardware and finish differ vastly with neighbours eager to stamp their individuality.
But that’s not to say that the market for panelled doors has completely died away, as they still offer a number of key selling propositions. The fact that our CoolSkin® product has re-ignited the confidence in the door panel market has been fundamental and our latest development with a VEKA substrate is also an important milestone for us, as we look to zero defect products for both the composite and panel door markets. With an exclusive trading relationship with Hornschuch for the UK and European market for the CoolSkin® door skins, we are also in a position to support and invest the unique nature of our branded product.
Panel doors also perfectly match the door frames in which they are hung, something that the GRP based slabs from the Far East certainly don’t. However cleverly you stain or emboss a GRP slab, it will never come close in matching a foiled PVCu outer frame, after all you wouldn’t buy a car if the bonnet didn’t match the colour of the doors.
This new generation of solid composite doors benefit from a foiled exterior that perfectly matches the frame into which they are installed, as they are made of the same basic material. Given their solid core they can also benefit from other hardware options and a better means of fixing for door numerals and drip bars.
These new composite door manufacturers are now able to offer 16-17 different foiled finishes either inside or out and that’s a strong USP. Our own range of CoolSkin® sheets now extends to 24 different finishes that can be bonded to either the internal or external faces of a solid composite door and with the new VEKA substrate, are designed to offer even better longevity as our accelerated long-term testing has shown.
While the big uptake has been in the 9 colours offered, the respective woodgrains have fallen behind the trends seen in mainland Europe from the likes of Rodenberg, who offer over 16 different timber-inspired finishes. Over the last 12 months we’ve seen the increased adoption of the Walnut/Nut Tree foil which offers a premium and alternative timber appearance, yet I believe the UK market for composite doors in particular, will look to new timber foils.
The minimum order quantities have come down considerably and there’s also a Hornschuch window foil to match our CoolSkin® sheets for composite doors. The composite door market, clearly leads the industry in terms of the number of foiled finishes on offer and I believe they will continue to innovate and offer new options.
The statistics from the extrusion companies now show that foiled sales now account for around 30% of the market and this trend looks set to continue as we follow the examples of our European counterparts. But while the systems companies have to invest in a number of frames, sashes, mullions and glazing beads for any new finish, the composite door sector doesn’t have such commercial and operational constraints.
It’s now commercially viable to offer some of these new foils without the need for the large systems companies to build up and invest in considerable stock. The opportunity for someone to launch a limited edition collection or a colour/woodgrain for just a single year maybe just around the corner and an exciting consumer USP.
The market for new and exciting foils is before us and we’re hoping to lead the composite door market into more individual finishes as we take inspiration from the European replacement door market. Competition between companies in the sector and a consumer desire for individuality will also combine to inspire the launch of new and exciting colours and woodgrains for 2016 and beyond.