A new generation of doors

Ian Cocken, director of sales and marketing at Aluplast, explains how the inline sliding door has been reinvented, increasing end-user appeal.

There has been a definitive shift in IGU manufacture towards over-sized units. Glass processors are investing in capacity, not simply in volume terms but also in their ability to manufacture at scale. IGUs 2,000mm x 2,000mm, or those hovering around the 4m2 mark, have gone from being the exception to an increasingly ‘standard’ part of the production run.

High-end and large-scale glass applications are defining architectural design. They’re also having a massive influence on the broader market. This includes driving appeal among homeowners for whom, very high-end aluminium products may be out of reach but still generate aspirational demand.

With new and more accessible products coming onto the market in the last six months, we can expect a realignment in the wider home improvement market this year.

This has informed Aluplast’s own strategy. We followed up our launch of our Passivhaus equivalent standard Lift-and-Slide Door in 2017, with the launch of its new Smart-Slide Inline Sliding Door in autumn last year.

The modular Lift-and-Slide, which is also available in our aluminium external cladding system aluskin, is targeted at the upper to premium end of the market.

Capable of spanning openings of 6.5m x 2.8m with just two sashes, it delivers impressive design flexibility, rivalling that of many aluminium systems.

It is the new, Smart-Slide Inline Sliding Door, which can, however, be expected to have broader market reach. Capable of spanning openings of 5.85m wide by up to 2.5m high, Smart-Slide, in common with its bigger brother, also delivers impressive design flexibility.

Combining this with ultra-smooth running and easy intuitive operation, the 70mm system does so at a price point that makes it far more accessible to a broader segment of the home improvement and new build markets.

Maximising the glazed area and with minimal sightlines, its available as a conventional sliding system or, in common with the Aluplast Lift-and-Slide, can be upgraded to simple but highly effective new hardware, which allows the door to retract in on itself and self-close automatically with the operation of the handle.

Able to accommodate 28mm through to 40mm glazed units, Smart-Slide delivers ultra-low U-values and an advanced level of energy efficiency.

One of the principles that has defined Aluplast’s product development strategy has been the focus we have applied on modularity; the Ideal 4000, Contemporary Squareline casement window system, the new flush sash, which we also launched in the autumn, the Aluplast Lift-and-Slide, and now Smart-Slide door.

It delivers scope to upgrade the closing mechanism to the self-close option, building towards a higher end sell. This can also be done through finish options, with availability in a wide range of foils, Woodec, our next generation wood-effect foil, and aluksin.

Woodec was also launched by Aluplast last autumn. This replicates the natural appearance of timber while combining it with the through-life advantages of PVCU. This includes three ultra-life-like woodgrains: Turner Oak Malt, a subtle light oak finish; Sheffield Oak Alpine, a silvered oak finish; and slightly darker, Sheffield Oak Concrete.

We have a very strong standard offer but the opportunity to build on that, to demonstrate to the end-user the added value that these platforms deliver – foils, Woodec and aluskin – support installers in commanding better margins.

Inline sliding doors have always delivered a high degree of practicality – they save space, they maximise the uninterrupted view from the property – but they haven’t until now always delivered on aesthetics or end user aspiration.

The architectural application of the product at the very top end has and continues to change end-user perception, creating demand and appeal.

A new generation of more accessible PVC-U products are meeting that demand at a more accessible entry point. Modular and up-sellable, they are also generating higher margin opportunities for installers and offering a raft of manufacturing efficiencies and lower stock holding, also fabricators.