With the growing UK housing crisis, the rise of the build-to-rent market, need for affordable housing and the limited available building space, multi-occupancy buildings, such as apartments and flats, are increasing in number. Here Patrick Dean, Head of Marketing and Sales at Door-Stop, explores the various factors to consider when specifying front doors for apartments or flats.
The front door of a home is an important feature for many people. However, as apartment front doors are not immediately visible to the outside world they can be sadly neglected, with doors of older social housing flats in particular often cheap, plain and basic, both in construction and visual design. Yet a well-maintained, secure front door can actually say a lot about a housing provider, in addition to what it represents to the resident and the building’s community as a whole.
There are many front doors available on the market, but there are some key elements to bear in mind:
A front door is often the main barrier between a home and the outside world, protecting not only a person’s home and possessions, but also their family. This is the same for occupants of multi-occupancy buildings, as even with a secure main building entrance, security is not any less important for the individual apartment doors.
With 72 per cent of burglars breaking into homes through the door, 1 it is important to consider the door’s security features, such as hardware, solid cores and cylinder locks, providing occupants with the knowledge that their home is safe.
Look for strong, high-quality locks that have excelled British Standards tests and are approved by Secured by Design, the official police security initiative. In fact, there are even cylinder locks available that actively work against intruders, able to detect attempted forced entry and activate an additional “attack” lock in the mechanism. Some door suppliers will even provide a guarantee against break-ins and burglaries with their products, a guarantee that can be passed onto the housing provider or occupier for added peace of mind.
A secure front door would not only reassure the resident that their home is safe and protected, but also benefit the local community, helping combat crime and reduce burglary rates.
However, there is more to security than just the lock – after all, a high-quality door lock installed on a cheaply manufactured uPVC door would be money ill-spent. Specifiers should therefore also consider the door’s physical structure.
One of the most popular options on the market is the composite door, constructed from layers of materials such as PVC, wood and glass reinforced plastic (GRP), which are pressed and glued together under high pressure conditions. Compared to a standard uPVC door, the mix of materials makes a composite door stronger and more durable, with an estimated life-span of 35 years. Door-Stops’ GRP skinned doors, for example, achieve great definition and long life performance, with GRP commonly used in the manufacturing of boat hulls.
Specifying a composite door will not only reassure the resident that their front door is robust and strong, but is also a cost-effective solution for the housing provider, increasing the door’s life-cycle and minimising the amount of maintenance required.
The emphasis on fire-safety compliance is bigger than ever. With a specific requirement for apartment doors in multi-occupancy buildings to be fire-rated, it is a crucial part of a building’s specification. It is therefore important that specifiers and housing developers understand what they should be looking for to ensure that the doors they are installing meet the necessary regulations.
FD30 and FD60 fire doors are most commonly specified, which offer 30 and 60 minutes fire resistance respectively.
It is important to check that the supplier has had its fire-doors, including all related components, tested and approved by a recognised, independent third-party certificate scheme, such as CERTIFIRE, assuring the performance, reliability and quality. Don’t just accept the manufacturer’s declaration that the doors are fire-safe, ask to see the certification to ensure that the doors have been subjected to the correct test procedures as specified in BS 476-22:1987 or BS EN 1634-1:2014.
Style and design
There is often a common misconception that fire-doors are bulky, heavy and unattractive in appearance, however, this does not have to be the case.
There are a wide range of fire-doors on the market that are available in a huge amount of different styles, designs and colours, all with various contemporary hardware options. This creates the potential for thousands of customisable variations and enables specifiers and social housing providers to effectively produce a bespoke front door.
The aesthetics of a front-door is a key factor to be considered, as an attractive looking apartment will not only encourage long-term tenancies but will also enhance the appearance of the overall building and communal corridors, and help residents take pride in their home.
Energy-efficiency has long been a ‘hot’ topic. In a world of growing energy prices, people are placing more emphasis on saving energy and cutting down their household bills. Efficient boilers, high-quality double-glazing and effective insulation are all popular solutions.
However, it is just as important to consider the thermal efficiency of front doors and the effect they can have on a building’s thermal performance.
The current Building Regulations state that all new doors sold and fitted in England and Wales must have a U-value of at least 1.8W/m2K in existing dwellings or 2.2W/m2K in new dwellings. A door’s U-value is a measure of heat loss, meaning that the lower the figure the better the thermal performance.
Specifiers and social housing providers should not fall into the trap of thinking that, just because the entrance to most apartments in a multi-occupancy building will be accessed from internal communal spaces, that the thermal efficiency of doors is not as important as external doors installed in individual houses. However, communal corridors in multi-occupancy buildings can often be un-heated, making them cold spaces in the wintry seasons, and nobody is going to want valuable warmth permeating out of their apartment into the external space.
Composite doors are often the best option when it comes to thermal efficiency, with its thick multi-layered structure providing better heat retention than a door manufactured solely from PVC, timber or aluminium.
It is clear that there are a lot of factors to be considered when specifying front doors for apartments or flats in multi-occupancy building. However, it doesn’t have to be a complex process, with some door suppliers and manufacturers having handy tools, such as an online Door Design Studio, where the developer can ensure that all factors, such as security, fire-safety, design and aesthetics are considered.