Perhaps one of the more interesting new product launches to happen this year, Door-Stop International have announced that they are to launch a solid timber core composite door slab. This would be their first foray into the higher end of the composite market, and will come into direct competition with solid timber veterans Solidor and also Endurance.

The product launch is interesting, because of the dynamic is it going to cause between the other solid timber manufacturers. But I think it is more than just a product launch. I think it points the overall composite door market in a new direction.

Timber battle ground

Credit: Door-Stop International

The most obvious thing to point out is that this will put Door-Stop in a much more obvious competition to the likes of Solidor and Endurance now. Solidor are the veterans in this area, and are the best known name when it comes to solid timber solid core door slabs. This part of the composite door market is mature already, so to enter the fray at this stage is a big ask.

Still, there continues to be plenty of demand out there from home owners for a high quality composite door. And Door-Stop already have a wide and established installer network and good exposure when it comes to home owners. This then adds an exciting element to the timber door slab dynamic. Will the likes of Solidor and Endurance see this new product as a threat? Will they look to tighten their own grips on the market to make sure that Door-Stop’s new timber door slab has a rough a launch as possible?

There is now most certainly a timber door slab battle ground, and the two with the biggest marketing budgets are Door-Stop and Solidor. It is going to make for an interesting watch from the side lines as the established ones react to this new arrival. I would expect some heightened marketing campaigns from competitors at the time of launch.

This isn’t going to be plain sailing for Door-Stop. Whilst I welcome the addition of a high quality door slab to their portfolio, there are some hurdles they need to overcome.

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Quality control and production

Up until now Door-Stop have had a foam slab. It’s what they launches with in April of 2008. But since then, the game has changed, and so has Building Regs. With more recent additions, many foam slabs have failed the new PAS24 regulations. It has meant foam slabs from other suppliers cannot now be fitted to new-build properties and extensions. Only to retro-fit on existing buildings. That is a lot of new business not possible to access for foam slab makers.

So we now see the attention turn to timber slabs, and you have to wonder if Door-Stop’s new timber slab has been borne out of the new PAS24 regulations. Still, progress is a good thing and a higher end slab does no harm to the company or the industry at large. There are however some things to bare in mind when it comes to timber slabs.

For example, the quality of the slab itself. Even some of the most well known composite door makers will admit they have had issues with timber slabs in the past. Expansion, warping and so on are problems that absolutely have to be addressed when it comes to timber composite door slabs. We don’t know the construction of the Door-Stop slab yet, in fact we know very little about it at all. But I hope that it has gone through some very rigorous, methodical, extreme testing before it comes to market. Installers will have no hesitation to call out a poor door slab.

The quality control on these new slabs has to be on the money as well. My guess is that they are going to cost more than the foam slabs Door-Stop do. Which is fine, you would expect this to be the case. But, if you’r going to charge more, installers and indeed home owners are going to expect an extra level of quality control and finesse. Installers will not want to see timber door slabs that are marked, missing items, delivered late or come to find bigger issues like warping in the medium term. Quality has to be backed by quality in all other areas.

One thing I would like to see is the timber sourced for these new slabs sourced from the UK. Preferably from a sustainable forest. Again, there is very little information out there to take bullet points on, so I can’t so much other than to speculate at this time. But my hope is that British industry and British resources will be supported in this new product. It would be a shame to see timber sourced from abroad being put into these slabs. We have a great timber industry here in the UK and those embarking on using timber in fenestration products should be using timber from the UK.

A new direction?

It is well known that a certain number of foam slab suppliers did not pass the new PAS24:2016 tests. It has resulted in those slabs being unable to be fit to new-builds and extensions. Bad news for those suppliers. This new venture from Door-Stop for me is a sign of where the composite door market is going.

For me, this is a signal of maturity starting to come into the market. Lets face it, foam composite doors are the cheaper end of the wedge. Designed to be sold quick, made quick and fitted quick. Home owners who don’t want to spend four figures on a door will be the ones buying them. The problem is, there are problems with them. Other than their questionable quality, the new PAS24 regs poses quite a serious problem. So the composite door market faces a question: tweak and fiddle with foam slabs to crowbar them into sneaking into PAS24 compliance, or start fresh with a brand new, higher end, better made product? I sense the latter, and Door-Stop knows this.

This is a signal that the composite door market is hitting maturity. It has had it’s rapid growth phase. That boom period where suppliers couldn’t churn out the doors to meet demand quick enough. We’ve had plenty of those years, and the market is a good decade old, if not older. We’ve reached that point now where those who started off at the “value” end of the market now have to evolve their product offering to not only meet new regulatory demands, but to also compete at the very top level where a few composite door suppliers have been operating for most of their business life.

This is a good thing for the composite door market overall. Maturity brings better margins, better quality products and a better offering to the home owner via installers. What it does do is it creates new competition between suppliers.

As of yet, we don’t know an official launch date, we don’t know any solid details about the product, how it’s made, where it will be made etc. Door-Stop have only put together a teaser page on their website asking for people to register online for interest in the product when it goes live. When it does, I will check it out properly and give my full review on it.

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