Opening statements


Being a key first impression of your home, doors also make a statement about who you are. Tracey Pomfret from George Barnsdale offers some advice to self-builders on specification choices

The humble door has evolved over the years but its role has always been to keep the inhabitants safe and warm and to offer some privacy from the outside world. Today, they must perform all of this and look amazing too. 

When it comes to choosing a door there are so many options, single hinged, double hinged, stable, bi-fold, french doors, and sliding patio doors, to name a few. To get a handle on this (metaphorically), self-builders and homeowners should consider the basics first.

Consider the doors at the design stage of your project – discuss with your architect or builder the options available and what would work well with the design of your home. Do plenty of research and use magazines, Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration. It’s also worth talking to some door specialists for guidance and advice.


A farmhouse style building demands a traditional front door with minimal glass, often painted in pastel colours and adorned with traditional hardware and a cute bumble bee knocker. However, a modern, sleek design, usually larger than a traditional door with horizontal panels and sleek chrome handles is perfect for an architect designed contemporary building. A stained door like this brings warmth and a natural aesthetic to minimalist designs that might otherwise be too harsh. 

Aside from the front door, do you want bi-folds or sliding patio doors at the back? What size are you going for? What type of locking system? A contemporary door works well with keyless entry
systems using an app on your phone while a traditional French door is better with a traditional lock. Stable doors can often have unsightly locking systems, so shop around for products that are more discrete.
You could go for a really bold colour, alternatively anthracite grey bifold doors bring a smart industrial feel to a kitchen/breakfast room. 

What shape do you want? Arched top? Angled? Do you want any cut-outs, bespoke designs or etched glass? Consider the surroundings you are in – a porthole looks amazing on a contemporary door by the coast and an etched fan light is ideal in a traditional property. 


Timber is the traditional material for doors, it is environmentally friendly, looks beautiful, and the latest timber technology means it won’t warp. Timber performs extremely well thermally and is more secure than many other materials. A modern, high performance door will last at least twice as long as PVCu and is obviously better for the environment. The modern paint systems that are used by good quality manufacturers mean they won’t need touching for a decade or more. They can also be easily repaired and offer greater versatility.

Composite doors combine traditional designs with added strength compared with PVCu alternatives. They are low maintenance and perform well, but they are a less sustainable option and are at the higher end of the price bracket. 

Many architects recommend aluminium doors, especially for patio doors because of the slim profiles offered and the maximisation of glass. This is usually a more expensive option but they are available in a wide range of colour options. 


New Building Regulations are being rolled out that demand even higher thermal performance – this might mean you need to consider triple glazing and the door will probably need to be thicker than you originally planned. There is even a new ‘Document O’ which covers overheating, and which will require good ventilation throughout the building and the control of solar gain so specialist glazing will need to be considered where large areas of glass are present.

Sometimes contemporary doors without a weather board or floor level bi-fold doors can leak. Ensure your supplier has robust design and installation methods for such products. Juliet Balcony doors (which are really just large windows) can also present problems with water ingress – it’s essential to ask your supplier for evidence of performance testing if you are considering these products. 

In terms of security, choose a door with multipoint locking and make sure the frame is as robust as the door. This is often something that is overlooked and it’s important to remember the door is only as secure as the frame it is fitted into. Choose products that are tested to PAS24 and Secured by Design. 

Tracey Pomfret is head of marketing at George Barnsdale