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White uPVC Doors
White uPVC Door

Residential door is the term given to ordinary single doors, including uPVC doors, timber doors and composite doors and generally refers to the main front or rear entrance / exit door.

Residential uPVC doors often have one or more fixed side panels or an attached ‘flag’ window.

uPVC Doors have given way to Composite Doors in recent years as they offer a greater opportunity for more contemporary designs.

White uPVC Double Doors
White uPVC Double Doors

Double uPVC doors are often referred to as French doors and can be manufactured to open either inwards or outwards.

uPVC Bi-fold Doors
uPVC Bi-fold Doors

Bi-fold doors can be manufactured with as many as seven sections or door leafs, each up to one metre wide.

This means that bi-fold doors provide the widest opening of all door styles.  They can also be designed so that some or all of the door sections move to one side or the other.

uPVC Sliding Patio Doors
uPVC Sliding Patio Doors

Two types of uPVC sliding patio doors are available.

Tilt and slide patio doors offer ventilation by tilting the door inwards without having to slide the door open whereas an in-line patio door only offers the slide function.  Both types of uPVC patio doors can be manufactured in 2, 3 or 4 sections

uPVC Doors - What is uPVC?

uPVC is the abbreviation of Un-plasticised Polyvinyl Chloride and is exactly the same product as PVCu.

In day to day use the terms have become interchangeable but officially the term PVCu has been used since the late 1980’s, bringing the UK into line with the rest of Europe.  This is simply because in most European languages the noun (PVC) is placed before the adjective (unplasticised).

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a chemical compound of chlorine, carbon and hydrogen originating naturally from petroleum, natural gas and sodium chloride (common salt).

PVC is commonly used in ‘plastic’ sports bags and some shoes after being modified by softening it with the addition of ‘plasticisers’.  Un-plasticised Polyvinyl Chloride means that the product has not been modified and therefore not softened, but in its pure form it is still not entirely suitable for windows and doors.

Stabilisers and additives are required to improve the longevity, and ensure that it is UV stable and does not discolour.

The amount of these additives differs from one manufacturer to the next to form different compounds, though two common additives are acrylic to harden the compound and Titanium Dioxide to make it appear whiter.

As a result, uPVC: –
• Does not biologically decompose or rot and can be recycled
• Is resistant to weathering
• Is low maintenance
• Is tough on impact
• Retains its shape in normal climate conditions
• Can be reshaped and formed at high temperatures so can be extruded to form window and door profile and even bent to form arched windows.

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uPVC Door Styles

uPVC Residential Doors

By uPVC residential doors, we are referring to the standard front or rear access doors to your home. Whilst most householders would install a fairly plain but functional rear access door, a stylish uPVC or composite door, is the perfect way to make an entrance and a warm welcome at the front of your home. Well specified and properly installed double glazed uPVC residential doors can offer style with security.

In most situations uPVC residential doors to the rear of your home will lead into the kitchen and will generally be half glazed with a solid panel in the bottom half and clear or obscure glass in the top half to provide maximum light into a working kitchen. Where existing windows don’t offer sufficient ventilation in a kitchen, uPVC residential doors designed as stable doors should be considered. There are several ways of manufacturing these and it is an ideal way of creating extra ventilation whilst leaving the door closed to keep children indoors and pets outside for example.

uPVC residential doors as front doors however, often with a combination of side panels and / or fanlights are generally more ornate to create a feature entrance. They are often specified with less glass than a rear door in order to provide more privacy from the public highway but this shouldn’t be at the expense of a darkened hallway.

White PVCu Door Panels 1

Typical double glazed uPVC residential doors designed as a front entrance door normally have a reinforced uPVC outer frame fixed to the brickwork of the house with a hinged door sash.

The door leaf will then be fitted with a decorative uPVC panel which, though can be solid, could have up to six double glazed, shaped panels set within it.

Front uPVC residential doors can be fitted with clear glass but they would generally have obscure glass panels for privacy or for a more decorative appearance, leaded designs, Georgian or Astragal bar, coloured lead or bevelled glass designs could be installed. Additional design features include acid etched or sandblasted glass in a variety of designs.

Some companies even offer bespoke decorative glass patterns and the author remembers from twenty years or so ago, a large and extremely elaborate coloured glass design of a peacock in a front entrance door for – yes, you guessed, a Mr Peacock.

A wide choice of door furnishings for uPVC residential doors complete the picture with a choice of handles, letter plates, door knockers, spy holes and thresholds in white, black, gold, brass and both polished and brushed chrome.

White uPVC Door Panels 2

uPVC Double Doors

uPVC double doors are often referred to as French doors and have two hinged, opening sashes to provide a wide access generally from the rear of your home into the garden.

uPVC double doors are normally fully glazed to provide high levels of light and an excellent view out to the rear, where privacy is not so much of an issue as it is to the front of your home.

uPVC double doors can be manufactured so that they either open outwards into the garden or inwards into your home and care should be taken not to have them obstructed by furniture, or to cause an obstruction themselves.

On very wide openings, fixed side panels may be required to one or both sides of the double doors otherwise the doors may be larger than recommended manufacturing sizes or too wide to be practical.

It should be noted that even though both doors in a set of French doors will open, you would be normal only to use the main door most of time – the second door can only open once the first one has been opened.

Outward opening uPVC double doors should be fitted with restrictors on the tops of the door leafs which prevent the doors from opening more than 90 degrees, otherwise they may hit external brickwork and become damaged.

Locking systems on PVCu double doors

There are several ways in which locking systems on PVCu double doors can be configured.

The main door will always have a key locking handle but to save money some door companies will not fit a handle or lock to the second door.

In this case, top and bottom levers are revealed when the main door is opened, which are used to release the second door from the outer frame.

If handles and a key locking facility are fitted to both the main door and the second door it would be wise to request that the keys are ‘suited’, that is, that the same key unlocks both doors in a set of PVCu double doors.

uPVC Double Doors on a Conservatory
Light oak French uPVC doors

uPVC Sliding Patio Doors

uPVC Sliding Patio Doors – In-line or tilt & turn?

uPVC sliding patio doors can be specified as either in-line sliders or as tilt and slide doors.

In-line sliding patio doors are generally made up of one fixed glazed panel and one which slides across it to form the opening.

Early patio doors, especially in aluminium frames, had the sliding section on the outside of the fixed panel and posed a security risk. The sliding section could often be easily lifted out completely to gain access from outside.

Modern uPVC sliding patio doors have the sliding section on the inside of the fixed panel – this not only reduces the security risk but also means that the sliding track is better protected against inclement weather.

For wide brick apertures, uPVC sliding patio doors may have to be split into more than two sections.

Three part uPVC sliding patio doors would generally have the centre pane sliding across one or both of the adjoining fixed panels.

Four part uPVC sliding patio doors would normally have the centre two sections sliding, one to cover the left fixed panel and one to cover the right fixed panel.

PVCu sliding patio doors – Tilt and slide

Tilt and slide patio doors offer an additional function to in-line sliders as the sliding door can also tilt inwards into the room.

This two way opening facility increases both the complexity of the opening mechanism and also the price.

The major benefit of tilt and slide patio doors over in-line sliding patio doors is the ability to provide ventilation without the door being open for access.

White PVCu Edwardian conservatory with uPVC sliding patio doors
Sun Lounge Conservatories - White uPVC Conservatory with Four Part Sliding Patio Doors

uPVC Bi-Fold Doors

Whilst conventional double doors and sliding patio doors will remain a traditional solution for most customers, uPVC bi-fold doors are unique in offering almost unrestricted access to the widest of doorway apertures.

uPVC bi-fold doors use a combination of mechanisms from both hinged doors and sliding doors to allow individual – but connected – door sashes to both fold and slide open within a top and bottom track to form a concertina effect.

In most cases as many as seven sections of uPVC Bi-fold doors up to a metre wide each, can be connected together to slide one way or another to open up a room almost completely to the outside or into a conservatory.

The wide variety of combinations should satisfy most customers, with door sections folding back to the brickwork on or both sides.

The size and complexity of the doors, tracks, hinges and locks makes uPVC bi-fold doors easily the most expensive of the various styles available – though in wide apertures there is no other door style which offers this amount of clear access.

White uPVC Bi-fold doors in closed position
White uPVC Bi-fold doors in closed position
White uPVC Bi-fold doors, one section open
White uPVC Bi-fold doors, one section open
White uPVC Bi-fold doors, open
White uPVC Bi-fold doors, open

uPVC bi-fold doors provide a stunning feature to large homes, new extensions, conservatories and orangeries with the large glazed area providing excellent views of your garden.

When fully open, uPVC bi-fold doors will give you a seamless connection from your home to your garden.  uPVC bi-fold doors can also be used between your home and conservatory or orangery which can provide the widest possible openings from you home into the conservatory, and your conservatory into your garden.

No other type of hinged or sliding door can offer that.

Safety and Security of uPVC Doors

Safety and Security of uPVC Doors

One of the many reasons for replacing your existing doors is the excellent safety and security features offered by the very latest advanced uPVC door systems.

Old wooden doors tend to have poor locking systems and glazing which is fixed into the frame with either putty or an external quadrant bead held in with panel pins.

Even the early uPVC frames offered very little in the way of resistance to potential burglars, with poor locking systems, external beads and frames without reinforcement.

For the best in safety and security, the latest uPVC doors should all have: –

• At least 70 mm frames (the thickness back to front) to add improved stability and strength to the door

• Internal steel or aluminium reinforcement, not only to strengthen the window frame but also to ensure that fittings such as hinges and locks are screwed into the internal metal, not only the uPVC outer frame

• Internally glazed doors (sealed units installed into the frames from inside rather than outside) so that the glass is more difficult to remove from outside, without breaking it

• Multi-point, shoot bolt and hook bolt locking systems to deter or severely delay entry by a burglar

• Doors should be fixed into the house walls with proper screw fixings, not just fixing foam, otherwise the whole frame could simply be cut away from the surrounding brickwork

• Door panels should also be reinforced. Wooden doors often have thin wooden panels which can be kicked in by a burglar and early uPVC doors had uPVC panels with no reinforcement which allowed them to be kicked in, cut through or even burnt through.

PVCu Doors - Hook bolt locking mechanism on uPVC Doors
Hook Bolt Locking Mechanism on a PVCu Door