The Evolution Of Patio Doors

by | Sep 19, 2023 | Viewpoint

A PVC-U patio slider in your product range could be your trump card, according to aluplast’s Director of Sales Ian Cocken.

Bi-folding doors and sliding doors have been aspirational products for many homeowners looking to bring light into their homes, while opening up the internal space. Their popularity continued to rise as homeowners also built conservatories, orangeries and lightweight extensions, and were spurred on by the series of lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

“Having a slider in your product range has been key to winning and keeping customers, especially one that suites with your windows and doors,” says aluplast’s director of sales Ian Cocken. “Go back 10 years and people were ringing the slider’s death knell, but design improvements have raised its profile no end.”

Cocken says that while, for several years, aluminium was seen as the material of choice for bifolds and sliders, attitudes are now changing.

“Whisper it, but many aluminium bifolds and sliders are ill-prepared for ever-tightening Building Regulations,” he says. “Even with the latest round of revisions – which sees windows and doors with a glazed area of more than 60% going into newbuilds, or new extensions, requiring U-values of 1.2W/m2K – many aluminium products struggle to achieve that with double glazing. With the Future Home Standard expected in 2025, which will drive U-values lower still, many aluminium bifolds and sliders are going to look unattractive because of their weight, compromised dimensions and price.”

This, argues Cocken, is putting PVC-U products back in the limelight, especially as continued research and development have made them match fit for modern demands on windows and doors.

“When we brought our Smart-Slide PVC-U patio slider to market, it was not simply an alternative to PVC-U sliding doors, but a genuine alternative to more expensive aluminium systems,” he says.

The new Smart Slide neo sliding patio door system – released earlier this year – can span up to 6m at a height of 2.5m with just a sliding sash and a fixed panel. It can do this while achieving Passive House levels of thermal performance.

“Achieving anywhere this kind of size, with these design parameters, was unthinkable with PVC-U, unless you factored in a triple track design, which would incur extra costs and undesirable sightlines,” Cocken says. “So, Smart-Slide is an aluminium alternative when it comes to size, and it competes on this playing field when it comes to the other design features, while taking the best that PVC-U offers.”

For example, hardware for aluplast’s Smart-Slide is constantly being developed, with Maco showcasing its new Move system on its popular stand at this year’s FIT Show.

Visitors could see first-hand how the door lifts away from the gaskets and the weather seals when it is the ‘fully open’ position, so that it can glide effortlessly on its rollers, while accommodating individual sash weights of up to 200kg.

When it goes into the ‘fully locked’ position, a locking mechanism pulls the sash onto the frame and locks it on the meeting stile.

This provides excellent performance for both air/water permeability, meeting BS6375 for weather tightness, while achieving PAS24 for security.

Thanks to aluplast’s comprehensive foil offering, Smart-Slide neo can be finished in Smooth Anthracite Grey, an aludec foil that is designed to accurately replicate the look and feel aluminium.

This finish is one of 40-plus colour options, which help to meet the current significant demand for colour from homeowners looking create a contemporary look to their home.

“The colour options also help the Smart-Slide neo suite perfectly with our Ideal 70 and Ideal 4000 window systems,” Cocken says. “And with our flush casement and flush outward-opening door, homeowners and developers can achieve a suited appearance across a whole project with clean modern lines or heritage detailing, without having to turn to aluminium.

“Design wise, that’s a big win, but you are also ticking boxes for energy efficiency, price and sustainability thanks to our ecotech profile, which utilises recycled PVC-U without compromising performance.

“We can also back this up with an almost unrivalled investment in infrastructure. Our new £multi-million state-of-the-art extrusion facility on a 15-hectare site in Poland will include a production hall, a raw material mixing plant, alongside state-of-the-art R&D facilities.

“We are also doubling in size our facility in Tewkesbury, and together these investments will help guarantee the supply of high-value, robust and secure products into the UK.”

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