Composite door design is evolving. So, what will drive future trends and how should you be adapting your offer?
Energy efficiency, security and distress purchase are evergreen drivers of home improvements. The other is appearance. So, in a toughening market, what will happen to composite door sales? And what do experts forecast will drive future sales?
Hayley Barker, Hurst Doors’ Head of marketing, says: “Ultimately, it’s the style of the property that influences the design of the door. The traditional options continue to be the staple with the classic front door and cottage door designs – but we’re seeing a definitive shift to more contemporary styles.
“This includes a shift to aluminium-type designs. People are looking to achieve a match to aluminium products and carry through the design to their front or backdoor but are looking for a more affordable and more energy efficient option.”
The window and door market shift to aluminium
Aluminium is taking a growing share of the replacement and new build window and door markets. Whole house refurbishments in aluminium, are, however, not always the default, with a shift to hybrid-installations combining aluminium inline sliding or bi-folding doors and colour-matched PVC-U options.
“Everyone has to balance aesthetics against cost and performance,” continues Hayley. “As an industry, we’ve seen the growth of aluminium but also more contemporary PVC-U window designs, for example flush, which emulates aluminium but at a far more affordable price-point.
“That extends to entrance doors. An aluminium front door will cost you anywhere between £2,000 to £5,000, even £6,000 at point of retail, dependant on the specification. That pushes aluminium entrance doors to a point which for many homeowners is simply too high.”
Hurst’s new Designer Range has been developed to emulate the appearance of aluminium, and to support its customers in tapping into the demand for the aluminium aesthetic, but at a more accessible price point.
It features four different styles, including solid and glazed options, which Hurst has paired with a contemporary and carefully selected colour palette, maximising design reach, with a choice of flat colour finishes in greys and black, plus Hurst’s wider colour offer.
“The range emulates aluminium finishes with almost every shade of grey that you can imagine, including Slate Grey and Basalt Grey, which is a new addition to our offer. We also have a Dusty Grey and Silk Grey,” explains Hayley.
“Greys are popular on contemporary doors (but not the only colour available), while the finish on our new Designer Range emulates aluminium powder-coated finishes with a slight stipple-effect, rather than being completely flat, with a low sheen.
“We’re also matching it with a contemporary range of glass options, for example minimalist etched finishes, which contribute to a very clean simple and ultimately contemporary aesthetic, creating an opportunity to up-sell a complete offer to the end-user.”
A move away from woodgrains
More generally, Hurst cites a shift away from woodgrains, particularly Rosewood and Oak, to alternative wood grains and solid colour options. This reflects a wider trend with sales of woodgrain finishes down across the sector so that solid colour finishes now make up over 80% of the market compared to 20% for woodgrains.
Hayley says: “The same shift in colour that’s been identified in window sales, extends to doors. We continue to sell Rosewood and Oak and other woodgrains but at lower volumes. What we’re seeing, even in installations into period properties, are higher volume sales of solid flat finish colours, and more subtle colour options.
“Colour tends to follow interior design trends. It had been grey, it then went to blue and we’re now seeing greens, so that’s why we’re introducing a new Dusty Green into the range.”
Will smart door locking systems come of age?
Hurst also predicts that smart door systems will assume greater importance as part of an added value sell. Hurst’s composite offer is supplied with Kubu equipped door locks as standard. Activated, homeowners can check the status of their door in real-time; it prompts them to check that doors are closed; provides a history of use; and fully integrates with Alexa.
“As everyone has been so busy, installers haven’t had to push smart technologies. In a more challenging environment, points of differentiation and the up sell becomes more important. Kubu is part of that offer, with smart products assuming far greater importance as Millennials move up the housing ladder.”
What will the biggest selling door styles be this year?
Hurst’s top-selling composite door in 2023 has been the Composite Four. Part of the Classic Range, it is a ‘four panel’ door featuring two twin vertical glazed panels in the top.
“It’s definitely our best seller,” says Hayley. “It’s a very traditional door and suits a wide range of properties from period homes through to new build. Other popular doors in the range include the Composite Half-Glazed; Half Moon; and Half Moon Three. In terms of Cottage Doors, our most popular styles are the Solid Cottage; Diamond and Small Rectangle – chosen by homeowners who are looking for that rustic feel.
“In our Contemporary Range the two dominant styles are our Four Rectangle Door and Long Rectangle Door – we have a very literal naming convention, but it means our customers always know which door we’re referring to!”
The importance of retail sales support
Hayley says effective marketing is even more important in a potentially more challenging market. Hurst has a new retail brochure scheduled for launch at the end of summer, alongside next generation retail sales tools. These have been designed by Hurst’s retail experts to support its customers in shifting the narrative away from a commodity sell to a higher margin opportunity.