Door-Stop and the composite door market in general has been at the forefront of conversation over the past few days, thanks to their purchase by Masonite. So continuing that theme, I thought it might be a good time to analyse the impact composite door have had on the overall fenestration market.
Before the explosion of the composite door market, the use of colour was fairly limited. I joined in 2007 when composite doors were really just emerging. We didn’t know much about them at the time. At this point the only real colour choices were white, the standard wood grains etc. For any specialist colours it was a case of getting it sprayed by a specialist, which ironically we do a lot of know.
But along came the composite doors with their GRP skins which could easily adapt to colour. This gave the industry an opportunity to get something brand new in front of the homeowner and dazzle them with a fresh new range of colours instead of boring old white. Now, it was easy to be able to see a red, blue, green or black door without having to find some obscure way to achieve that finish. The customer gets to choose something new, and us installers get to sell colours much easier.
What this also did was to encourage the evolution in colours to other parts of our market. Windows for example. Would we have had such an array of colour choice now if composite doors hadn’t have come along? I would wager not. Once customers started demanding colours for doors, it was only a matter of time before it would naturally move on to windows.
In the early days of composite doors, lead times used to be quite a while. I remember them being at least 4-6 weeks at one point. But that wasn’t for long. When Door-Stop came along in 2006 they flipped the whole industry on it’s head by promising lead times of less than a week. Whether you agree with such a business practise or not, it had a profound impact on the way the composite market did business.
It forced others to look at their own operations and made them respond with their own reduced lead times. Admittedly not as low as three days, but in most cases the majority of installers won’t need a door in three days. Not only did it force the composite door industry as a whole to assess it’s lead times, but the wider fenestration industry too.
Look at the offerings other companies have now. Origin for example now use a revolutionary new 0-day lead time where they promise to make any bi-fold door to any lead time, whether it’s in one day or anything longer. It works apparently quite well. Then there are a plethora of window companies offering windows delivered in a week now. Would we have this situation without the influence of composite doors? Again I think not. There are other side issues to having such reduced lead times but that post is for another day!
Energised A Market
The double glazing industry has often struggled to capture the imagination of the general public. New windows and doors have often been seen as the poor relation to new cars and kitchens when it comes to home improvements and big ticket purchases. But thanks to composite doors, this seems to have changed.
Lets face it, white panel doors were never going to set the heart racing with the homeowner. But composite doors, with their wide range of new funky styles and colours give the consumer something fancy, something new and something they can tailor their tastes to. They can build their own unique door without having to copy their next door neighbour!
It’s even become a household name. Customers on a daily basis come in asking to see a particular brand of composite door in our showroom. This is something that almost no other window or door product has managed to achieve – certainly not within my time in the industry. And with that, composite doors have instilled a new energy into consumers when it comes to buying new windows and doors. I have noticed clients getting more enthused by purchasing new windows and doors. It is something they want to be proud of and show off. All thanks to the choice and uniqueness of what composite doors brought.
Skins and woodgrains
Not all are fans of the composite door however. One distinct feature of a composite door is it’s very heavy wood grain GRP/plastic skin. Admittedly, the early versions of these GRP skins for bloody awful! Cheap, unrealistic toy-like door skins were common on early versions of composite doors. It wasn’t until serious money was pumped into the market that the quality of the woodgrain finishes started to improve.
Still, composite doors do have some haters out there. But I do want to make one final point before wrapping this post up. Whether you like Door-Stop or not, whether you like they way they do business and the way they entered the market with their unique business model, this single company is the reason why the composite door market is today. And why the fenestration industry has changed so much over the past few years. They have had an impact on our sector like no other and this sort of profound effect is so very difficult to achieve. So for that alone we as an industry should recognise this – mostly for the betterment of the industry.
Agree or disagree? Has the composite door really done all that much for the industry or is a lot of it just hype? All comments are welcome in the section below.