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In terms of overall longevity and ease of upkeep, composite doors are one of the best options on the market today. In fact, few owners find themselves spending more than a few minutes each month maintaining their composite doors, and many spend substantially less.
What do you need to know about the upkeep, long term safety and fire rating of composite doors? Read on:
Modern composite doors sold in the UK by a reputable home improvements company will feature a high security multipoint locking system. The door itself conforms to the highest industry and regulatory standards, and is both BS 6375 and PAS 24 approved.
The BS 6375 is a set of standards for the performance of windows and doors sold in the UK. It focuses on strength, weather-resistance and reliable operation. Just one part of passing the BS 6375 test is the door being opened and closed more than 50,000 times without failure of the door, frame, hinges or locking system.
The PAS 24:2012 Enhanced Security Performance standards ensure that the door offers a suitable level of security for a private residence. If a door is PAS 24 approved, that means that it was manufactured at a facility that was tested for PAS 24 compliance.
A mandatory requirement for all composite doors sold in the UK is the CE Mark meaning that it meets standards set by European law. It came into force on 1st July 2013 and covers a variety of different factors including water tightness, resistance to wind load, thermal transmittance, impact resistance and air permeability. In short it means that the composite door is safe to install and fit for purpose.
The simple answer is ‘no’. If the door is operated correctly, but the reason why composite doors do not warp or expand is slightly more complex.
Good quality composite doors will have been designed to resist swelling, warping or losing their shape in any way. They are built of multiple, reinforced layers of different materials, all laid together in such a way that the door remains absolutely rigid and stable in any reasonable or even extreme set of conditions.
For some composite door construction, the chief anti-warping feature is their ‘monocoque’ glass reinforced plastic outer shell. As they’re essentially cast in a single piece and filled with polyurethane foam at a high pressure in the factory, there are no cracks or seals that could allow moisture to enter, and no ‘empty’ space inside to encourage condensation.
An alternative construction method is a solid timber frame and core that is covered in a highly durable uPVC shell. Whatever method is employed it is this layering of the constituent parts that presents a single, solid piece to the elements, and is therefore very resistant to warping.
No, composite doors do not fade in the sun. Unlike uPVC or timber, whereby the colour is finished on the exterior of the door panel, the GRP skin is incredibly durable to the outside elements and keeps the colour looking like new, whatever the outside conditions. So you won’t need to worry about the colour fading or having to repaint the door panel, which is commonly done with timber doors.
The reason composite doors do not fade or bleach over time, even when exposed to strong sun for years or decades at a time is that the colour is not applied to the surface. They are not painted at the factory, or skinned with a thin film of coloured or patterned material as some uPVC or steel doors are. The thick GRP or uPVC surface layer is coloured throughout. That means that even if the very dent- and scratch-resistant surface is compromised in any way, the new cortex thus exposed is the exact same colour as the rest of the surface. The entire outer layer is produced with that colour at the factory.
Another reason that composite doors don’t fade is the way that colour is made in the first place. Some dyes and pigments are known to degrade when exposed to UV light over time – for example, think faded packages that have been left too long in a sunny shop window. However, the pigments mixed into the outer layer of a composite door are highly resistant to UV and other harmful radiation. Certain colour mixes even contain long-term UV protective chemicals – a permanent sun-screen – to ensure that the colour does not fade or change over time.
You can… but really you should never need to. One of the real benefits of a composite door is that the colour will remain as vibrant as when it was first installed for many, many years.
However, tastes and styles evolve, and you may decide that you’d like to change the colour of your composite door eventually. If so, clean the surface thoroughly, and apply two thin coats of any non-drip gloss paint. Just be careful not to get paint on any of the weather seals, as that could degrade their function.
There are many types of composite doors on the market today and many of them are rated as ‘fire doors’.
Composite fire doors are specifically constructed to resist the heat and chemical damage of a typical house fire. The outer surface is usually thicker, for instance. The core is made of a material that resists combustion and melts at a high temperature, and the reinforcing elements might be steel rather than hardwood. The end result is just as sturdy and attractive as a standard composite door, and as close to fireproof as modern technology can make it.
To be rated as a ‘fire door’, the doorset (the door and outer frame, as supplied from the factory) must meet the standards set out in BS 476: Part 22: 1987. A typical residential fire door is rated to withstand fire and keep out smoke and toxic fumes for at least 30 minutes before failing, giving you and your family time to become aware of the problem and leave through another exit.
Every part of your home needs at least a little attention now and again.
Once a month or so you may want to wash your composite door with warm soapy water. Nothing more should ever be required, and even that can be reserved for when a hard rain has kicked up enough soil to be noticeable, or if nearby construction has made the air very dusty. That is really all you need to do to ensure your new composite door lasts as long as possible, and looks great the entire time.
In conclusion, you really don’t need to do much to keep a composite door looking as good as the day it was installed. It will resist fading and warping without special attention, and never needs to be painted or refinished.