Is the S500 series from Spitfire the best door in Europe? The doors from Spitfire are touted as the best not only in the UK but in Europe too. After building an entire showroom dedicated to Spitfire doors, as well as selling them to the public for a reasonable amount of time and getting stuck in with the fitting of one or two, I have a more accurate insight into the quality of these doors.

This is my review of the S500 series.

S500 with side lights being installed as part of the Spitfire showroom build

Immense build quality

The very first thing that hits you when you see and feel an S500 door is the sheer solidness of the product. I remember the S500 door that was delivered to our yard when our Spitfire showroom was in development. It came on a pallet and it was insanely heavy. It was slightly oversized in height and came with two side panels. Getting the door from the pallet and into the showroom and then into position was a huge effort. But we got it there, and it was clear that when it came to installing these on site was going to require us to invest in additional lifting help to aid our installers. These doors are heavy.

Here are some of the key stats about the build of the door that matter:

  • 95mm thick door sash
  • triple glazed laminated glass as standard
  • 20mm threshold with 15mm of clearance
  • U-Values as low as 0.6W/m²K – values vary depending on model and glazing
  • Inosmart biometric entry
  • PAS24 & RC3 secure
  • Max size: 1250mm x 2700mm

The weight of these doors lay with the door sash at 95mm thickness and the triple glazed laminated glass. If you haven’t seen one yet in person you really have to. I know it sounds cliché but when a door that thick and solid closes it screams quality. You would perhaps think of the German car door analogy but I would say even that doesn’t do this justice.

Spitfire S500 doors, which are manufactured by Inotherm in Europe, are available with the InoSmart biometric entry as an upgrade. We have this available on our showroom model and I do like having this product available in conjunction with the S500 series. The highest quality door does have to have a matching quality smart system. You can find out more about the InoSmart system here. The model we have is the finger print option, but does come with digital door bell, keypad and digital door viewer as well. It can be controlled via your smart phone and would suit installations that are going into self-build grand designs or any smart home.

In short, these things are built like tanks, if tanks were made of granite. Solid.

400 designs

Can there be such a thing as too much choice? Maybe. The S500 range of doors come with 400 designs to choose from. In comparison the S200 range has 60, and even then that is more than most composite door suppliers have available.

Then factor in the very extensive range of colours, wood grains, metal and other bespoke finishes. Now the vast array of handles and glazing designs. The permutations must run into the billions.

These are just a very small selection of the 400 designs that are available. You might think that having hundreds of designs within just one range of doors is a bit excessive. Perhaps from a British perspective it is, but these doors are made in Europe and their approach to choice and quality is leagues above much of the UK market and this is more the norm over there than it is here. These doors are made from scratch and can take ten weeks or more to be made and delivered.

If you are thinking of selling these then I would recommend using the Inotherm door designer. We have one available via our business website and we also have a freestanding door designer in our showroom where clients can come in and design their dream door in person with us, being able to scroll through all the designs, colour options and hardware ranges.

These tools are genuinely useful. It makes navigating the gargantuan range of doors significantly easier, and makes 400 designs feel much more manageable.

Lead times and installation

As I mentioned, these doors are not quick to be made and shipped, and nor should they be. We retail these doors from around £6000 and above, reaching five figures if the door has side lights and biometrics. You certainly would not want anything this bespoke and high-end to be rushed and risk damage or poor quality.

When we sell these we tell our clients production can take up to 12 weeks. The reality is more like ten weeks but we allow a couple of weeks of breathing room to compensate for any delays from Europe or regional holidays which can impact delivery times. Then, if it takes ten weeks the client gets a pleasant surprise of an earlier delivery.

The doors come incredibly well packaged, boxed in with timber on all sides to help protect the door. The only thing I would like to see added are straps to help when lifting the door from the van and into storage. Other than that, no complaints on the protection for the door.

On the face of it you might be wondering if S500 doors require a different method of installation or whether it takes more time than normal. Actually, the S200, S500 and S700 pivot doors are all relatively simple to install. In fact they are installed very much like a composite door. There are two main factors to consider however, and that is the weight and the doors being level.

As is made clear earlier in this review, these doors are seriously heavy. The S200 range isn’t too bad. They are heavier than a composite door but still perfectly possible to install between two fitters without much struggle. The S500 range and certainly the pivot doors are significantly heavier, especially when you get to oversized doors. It will take 2-4 people just to offload them from the delivery vehicle, and some installs will need more than two people to ensure a safe install. I know from speaking to Spitfire than on the larger S500 and pivot doors it has taken four guys or in some cases some hired lifting equipment to get these in place in their openings safely.

The other point I would make is that the doors have to be precisely level. The tolerances on aluminium doors are very exacting so they have to be 100% level in order to operate properly. This is where airbags become very useful.

However, once you have the door in place and level, they actually become very simple to install, and when you have done a few they tend to fly in quite smoothly. I remember being on site for our first pivot door installation and it although a bit daunting at first, considering the cost of the door involved, it was pretty straightforward to install. You just have to consider weight and logistics during the selling process.

Target market and are they worth it

You are not going to sell 20 of these per week. It is simply not a mass-market product, and it is not meant to be. Although these doors can be fitted to any property type, it is the self-build/renovation/architectural market that suits this door product best. For example, the two S500 and S600 mini-pivot doors that we are installing over the next couple of weeks are all going into large renovation projects and will look stunning once installed. There is nothing prohibiting sales to more regular homes, but the nature of the product and sales approach means it is the higher end of the market where you’ll find most of these doors go.

Are they worth the effort? Hell yes they are. From a purely profit perspective, the margins you can earn on a door like the S500 can be three to fives times that of a regular composite or PVCu door. If you can find yourself selling even 2-4 per month, your bottom line is going to look very healthy later on.

You will need a different sales approach if you are thinking about entering the higher end market. These tend not to be quick sales. The client will change their minds on the design and tech that goes into the door. You’ll have to update your quote a number of times. The client may spend a few weeks, maybe longer, deciding before they place an order. Spending £8k-£12k on a door isn’t going to be a quick process. But once you get that sales pipeline going it becomes a nice steady stream of sales.

Simple things like offloading, delivery to site and installation will need some thought. As I have explained, these doors are not thrown in. But as with most things, once you have done a few and work out what works for you, the entire process becomes a lot easier.

For me, there remains huge potential for high-end doors like this around the UK. Homeowners are becoming much more aware of products like this and can see the value in paying more for it. Installers need to be bold enough to look at expanding their product portfolios and opening up their minds to something more grand and exciting. Once that hesitation around the product is gone, it is amazing how much potential you can see in a product like this.

Find out more about the S500 range here:

Find out more about the Inotherm range here: 

To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe:

By subscribing you agree to DGB sending you weekly email updates with all published content on this website, as well as any major updates to the services being run on DGB. Your data is never passed on to third parties or used by external advertising companies. Your data is protected and stored on secure servers.