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Karen made this beautiful doorway in the attic of her house

Green issues concerning doors are mainly about their insulation values (for external doors) and the materials they are made from.

Good external doors are quite hard to source in the UK because we have had a poor tradition of insulating and draught proofing them. This is why eco-house builders often use the imported Scandinavian and German ones which are available here.

There are four main considerations

  • The materials should be as sustainable as possible and with low embodied energy – Woodmarked timber for instance.
  • They should be well insulated (few UK manufacturers quote U values for doors) and it is the value of the whole doorset that matters. The Building Regulations for doors in new dwellings come under Fabric Standards  in part L1A of the Approved Documents.
  • They should be well draught proofed
  • They should be protected from weather damage.

Obviously there are other non-ecological considerations such as appearance and security.

Doors are a great opportunity to get creative and use native, locally sourced timbers.

Manufactured doors

Check that timber door suppliers are using timber with the woodmark. Some manufacturers, particularly the Scandinavian ones use a small amount of aluminium to clad the outer surface of the timber or in the form of a drip section to protect the bottoms of glazed areas. This works very well.

The U value of a solid timber unglazed doorset is about 3.0 W/m²K – quite poor, whereas composite panel doorsets can achieve values of around 0.25W/m²K. Unfortunately most door manufacturers seem unwilling to publish their U values. The building regulations cover the U values of doors and this now includes replacement external doors. Part 1LA of the Building Regulations cover this and can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Good draught proofing is essential and is now a factor in the Building Regulations section on air permeability. The problems associated with draught proofing are around endurance. They all work well at the beginning but it is very common (especially with PVC doors) to see draught proofing strips which have been accidentally torn out of place and are impossible to get back or replace with new.

Glazing in doors

The building regulations require that toughened glass is used in certain places where people are liable to injure themselves on impact with the glazing.  The darker areas show where toughened glass is required. The image is taken from Approved Document part K of the Building Regulations which explains several other legal requirements of glazing.


Fire doors

Fire doors are required in certain situations. These are mainly covered in the Building Regulations Approved Documents part B1 – “Means of Escape” and see part B1 Appendix B with its accompanying table showing the locations of the various types of fire door.
More information at the Door and Hardware Federation web site

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