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In this article, we’ll take you through the three main types of external doors available and weigh up the practical benefits each one brings. We’ll also discuss the difference between front and back external doors, to help you pick the right door for different places in your home.

What are Front Doors Made of?

Most front doors are made from one of the following materials: wood, aluminium, uPVC or Composite. 

Composite Doors

When it comes to door materials, composite doors are like a 'best of'. They use a combination of different materials, including wood, PVC, insulating foam and glass reinforced plastic. This helps them escape the flaws of other materials while enjoying all the benefits across all of them. They are a ‘composite’ of all these materials. This means you get a door with high thermal efficiency (due to the insulating foam), as well as a higher level of security and durability than a uPVC door. A composite door also has a more robust and weather-resistant surface and is easier to maintain than a timber door as it won't fade, split or warp without regular upkeep. The biggest drawback of a composite door is the price - this high quality comes at a cost.

Benefits of Composite Doors

Some will tell you that a composite door is a 'fake' door because it lacks the purity of timber doors. Yet, the high-quality wood grain effect featured on many composite doors gives a realistic and natural finish that closely echoes traditional wood, with many other benefits besides. As mentioned above a compose door is the most secure option. A lot thicker than uPVC, a composite door often features steel reinforcements and tough frames, making them almost impossible to break once installed correctly. In terms of visual design, you will struggle to find a wider choice of door styles too. Glazed panels are popular in composite door designs, allowing natural light into your home without seriously compromising the strength or stability of the door. Another main advantage of composite doors over timber doors is how low maintenance they are. They can't absorb moisture so they won't warp over time, and they won't need refinishing or painting to keep them watertight either.

Why Buy a Composite Door? 

Simply because you're getting a ‘best of all world' solution. Although this is not the cheapest material, you can always find a composite exterior door that is affordable enough when balanced out by its benefits.

Wooden Doors

We won't pretend you don't know what a wooden door is but when you are choosing a new front door it is important to understand the difference between wooden doors and composite ones. A standard hardwood external door is generally made with a single, or a wooden veneer lay over a solid core. There are no mixed materials like you see in composite doors and many buyers prefer timber doors as they feel more 'solid' or 'genuine'.

Benefits of Wooden Doors

One big benefit of timber doors is the ability to paint them and refinish them as often as you like. The surface of composite and uPVC doors do not take paint well, making it almost impossible to update the look of your doors if you want a change. With wooden doors, you can customise the colour exactly to match the style of your home's exterior or interior design. A quick sand, prime and paint job is all it takes. Another flexibility of wooden doors is size. If necessary, you can plane down solid wood doors without damaging the door as long as the raw edges are properly treated. When it comes down to it, however, the main reason people still choose wood is because of its look and feel. The traditional beauty of natural woodgrain is perfect for homes that embrace the country cottage vibe as well as more modern houses that are looking for a traditional touch.

Why Buy A Wooden External Door?

Wooden doors are probably the most popular choice for an external door. This gives you access to a wide range of door styles, price points and frames. They are also among the most visually appealing door type available. Though they cost considerably more than uPVC doors, they are similar to the cost of composite doors but do not offer as much protection and are far more vulnerable to the elements.

uPVC Doors

uPVC stands for unplasticised polyvinyl chloride. It is a stable and safe plastic material that has become a very common building material for exterior doors in the last 50 years due to its water-resistance and recyclable nature.

Benefits of uPVC Doors

The primary reason to opt for a uPVC exterior door is the cost, as they are much cheaper to produce than wooden or composite doors - in turn, they are cheaper to buy. They can also be more secure than conventional wooden doors as they can't split though you do need a high-quality uPVC door to offer that security. A big drawback for many people with uPVC doors is their finish and image. Wooden doors can be painted and offer a timeless styling, whereas with a uPVC door, what you get is what you'll always have. Many people think uPVC can look ‘cheap' due to its plastic nature and it almost always comes in a standard white finish.

Why Buy? 

If you are comfortable with their appearance, then a uPVC exterior door is a decent alternative to a composite or wooden door. They are also incredibly lightweight so are much easier to install alone without having to hire a joiner.

Back Doors and Front Doors

When you're picking external doors for your home, another thing to consider is whether you are looking for a front door or a back door. This can bring up its own set of questions and considerations.

Is there a difference between back and front doors?

No, there is no real difference between front and back doors. They are all external doors, so they all need to be strong, secure and offer excellent insulating properties. You can pick a door design or style that suits your preferences and use it as a back door or front door. That said, there are different considerations for a front door than a back door. A front door is usually visible from the street, meaning it needs an additional level of security and privacy than a back door that is enclosed within a garden wall or fence. A front door is also an opportunity to add a splash of colour and kerb appeal to your home, which is why many people go for bright or decorative composite and timber doors. With your back door, it can feel more important to find one that suits the style of your garden without drawing too much attention from the design features there.

Do You Have to Have a Door at the Rear of Your Property?

No. Building regulations state that every habitable room in a house must have a means of escape, but this can include large windows rather than doors. As long as you have one easy way of getting into your home, and plenty of windows you don't necessarily need a second door. However, having additional exterior doors like a back door is always more convenient. It is also helpful for visitors and creates a sense of flow through your home.

Should My Back Door Match My Front Door?

Only if you want it too. There is no need for all your external doors to match, in terms of material, style or design. Many people choose to have bright or eye-catching front doors while having simpler, more understated back doors. Of course, if you want all your external doors to carry a similar theme or even look identical, this is perfectly reasonable too. At the end of the day, the look of your external doors is entirely down to you.


Whether you’re looking for a new front door, back door or both, there are always a lot of options available. Between uPVC, wooden and composite exterior doors you have plenty of factors to consider, to help you find one that meets your own exact needs.

The External Doors Information Centre

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