Closing the composite and aluminium gap

Tony Craggs, managing director of Virtuoso, talks about the new generation Virtu-AL aluminium effect composite door.

The composite door has exploded in popularity over the last decade and is now the most popular choice of entrance door, accounting for 50% of doors sold in the UK. Delivering style, greater security, and improved efficiency, the composite is king in the UK.

Aluminium is however taking an increasing share of the market. With its inherent strength, durability and aesthetics, it has long been popular in the commercial sector. Now, thanks to its improved thermal performance and slim sightlines, aluminium is highly desirable among homeowners too. You only have to look at the sheer number of aluminium bifolding and patio doors being installed to see where the market is heading.

We recognised early on that there was a gap in the market for a product that would satisfy the growing consumer demand for modern, aluminium style products. Differentiation is everything in a saturated marketplace and we wanted to help our customers stand out so we embarked on an extensive research and development programme to create a product that combines all the features of a composite door but with the appearance of a high-end aluminium door. And the result is Virtu-AL – an aluminium textured, non-woodgrain finish composite door.

Since the launch of Virtu-AL, we’ve been talking to installers and they’re genuinely excited because they have something totally new to sell from a high quality manufacturer. Those installers that’ve been offering conventional composite doors and door panels, can now cater for every consumer need with this higher-end product. Essentially, it opens up some terrific new market opportunities for installers, enabling them to become part of the growing aluminium sector.

Even contemporary composite door designs can seem traditional because of their woodgrain finish, while aluminium doors can look industrial. Virtu-AL is different: an ultra-modern GRP skinned door that brings the best of a composite and aluminium door in one.
Aluminium certainly delivers the premium, architectural look that consumers desire but it can be pricey. Virtu-AL complements the crisp, clean features of other aluminium products and helps homeowners to affordably create a coherent aluminium look throughout their home.

Virtu-AL incorporates a 4mm GRP skin, which is thicker than many other GRP skins, and looks and feels just like aluminium. Underneath this skin is a high performance 44mm composite slab.

We want people to touch the door because it feels completely different to a traditional composite door. Many installers have said that it is a serious contender for aluminium because they simply can’t believe the door slab is GRP.

The Virtu-AL door is all about being different and we’re delighted to offer four contemporary designs, which are totally exclusive to Virtuoso. These designs – complete with our new anodised glazing cassettes and bespoke grooving – are totally unique, taking the contemporary look to a whole new level. The bespoke colours and hardware from ERA Fab&Fix are the perfect touches and, to top it off, we were the first manufacturer to adopt the new inline flat pull bar.

We are already working on new developments and we’ll be launching Virtu-AL in a Smarts aluminium frame early next year.
We are also a launch partner for the new Lock Lock security handle from Brisant Secure. The handle can be ordered as an optional extra via our ‘Gateway’ door designer software, which allows customers to quickly design, quote and order composite doors online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.