Can PVC-U bi-fold doors take market share from aluminium?

Steve Mines, Sales Director, Sliders UK, explores the impact a new wave of PVC-U bi-fold doors are having on the bi-fold door market as a whole.

PVC-U bi-fold and inline sliding doors have been the ever so slightly ‘poor relation’ to aluminium for some time. When was the last time, for example, that you saw Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs ‘eulogizing’ about the architectural merits of plastic?

Even historically speaking, the press received by PVC-U building products has edged towards the unfair but now – and with a new generation of PVC-U bifolds coming to market – it’s completely unfounded.

I’d like to take the opportunity to flag two products as prime examples of this shift, the Aspect bi-fold from Eurocell and the Imagine from Veka.

We manufacture both as the Ultimate Aspect and Ultimate Imagine bi-folding doors and we do so alongside aluminium systems from ALUK and the Ultimate Evolution adjustable jamb system.

Why? Well as a specialist door manufacturer, by default we need to offer our customers access to a range that they can’t get elsewhere but also because we recognise that the market demands it.

There is a definite place for PVC-U in bifolds and the Veka Imagine and Eurocell Aspect have huge commercial potential.

The first thing that both do is put a tick in the box against Part Q, PAS24:2012/16 and Part M under disability legislation – they’re good to go in new build and commercial sectors and retail.

But it’s innovation in aesthetics, which is prompting industry analysts to forecast that PVC-U systems could take market share from timber and aluminium.

The Ultimate Aspect and Ultimate Imagine, deliver a real step change in the appearance of PVC-U bifold doors with slim sightlines, elegant hardware and wide choice of foiled options.

Ultimate Aspect Bi-fold Door at a glance:

  • Slim line energy efficient and low maintenance PVC system
  • Available in a 2 to 7 panel configuration, allowing up to 90% of glazed screen to be opened.
  • White, through-colour cream, Golden Oak, Rosewood, Irish Oak, White Ash, Golden Oak on white, Black ash on white and Grey Ash on White available as standard
  • All folding and sliding doors include heavy duty rollers and stainless steel anti-jemmy pins
  • Fold in/out and left or right slide options
  • Optional traffic door only
  • Low aluminium 32mm threshold option with ramps for wheelchair option (Part M compliant)
  • Tested to PAS24:2012/16, PAS 23 and BS6375
  • U-values as low as 0.94Wm2/K* indicative testing by Veka

PVC-U systems still have a slightly ‘fuller figure’ when compared to the ultra slim sightlines of aluminium but they come in at a price point which is far more affordable and are, therefore, more accessible to homeowners.

Again as illustrative examples, the Ultimate Aspect and Ultimate Imagine PVC-U bi-folding doors, demonstrate what is being delivered. The slim contemporary sightlines of Ultimate Aspect door echo those of an aluminium systems.

The Ultimate Imagine offers classic sculptured and beveled profile options but again maximizes glass area – a key innovation and answering traditional criticism of PVC-U systems.

Veka Imagine/Ultimate Imagine at a glance:

  • Slimline 70mm energy efficient PVC-U system
  • 19 different panel configurations to a maximum of seven sashes
  • Can span up to 6000mm wide and up to 2400mm height. The maximum sash width is 1000mm
  • Available in 18 foiled finishes
  • Choice of beveled or sculptured sashes and beads.
  • Doors can be set to open inward or outward
  • Custom designed hardware from ERA
  • PAS24:2012 accredited with Part Q approved
  • U-values as low as 0.94W/m2k and an indicative DSER rating of A+13 .

Going back to our original question, ‘can PVC-U products take market share from aluminium’, the answer is that they have potential to – and then in some areas.

Aluminium bifold systems clearly have a structural integrity that even the best PVC-U systems can’t match.

Take our ALUK offer, the Ultimate Aluminium bi-fold door – the UK’s first Secured by Design accredited aluminium bifold door – for example. It’s available in two to seven panel configurations, with inward or outward opening and traffic door options. Featuring multi-point locking, heavy-duty rollers and stainless steel tracks, all running gear is fully concealed to deliver a strong aesthetic while it also features the option of a 34mm low threshold or 22mm room divider threshold.

Achieving U-values as low as 1.4w/m2K, Standard colours include white gloss, anthracite grey matt, and semi-gloss graphite black as standard, dual colour with bespoke finishes are also available on competitive lead times. But capable of spanning distances of up to 6000mm by 3000mm in height, it delivers critical extra distance and importantly greater structural integrity and flexibility, where larger weights and spans are part of the requirement. This is a product for higher end and Grand Design-type installations. The point is that it’s not affordable on every budget or a requirement on every project.

If the industry is effective in selling the benefits of a new generation of PVC-U products to homeowners, the opportunities for PVC-U are, I believe, very real.

Our strategy as a specialist, has always focused on offering our customers choice. We offer both from a single point of supply, where you know in advance what discounts will be applied, where you get a single delivery whether you want PVC-U or aluminium products and a single invoice.

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