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Where can I get an airtight external door?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 10 June 2015 at 11:45 am

Q. Hello, I had a wee search in the "Find a.." system but not quite what I was looking for. I am simply looking for an external house door and have been reading a lot about air tightness. I am guessing the run of the mill hardware suppliers and double glazing sales companies don't sell anything that is airtight or very near it. So where do I turn to? Thanks Peter.

A. This isn’t as difficult as you might think. Of course it does depend on your definition of airtight. Basically the energy efficiency of a door is based around three things:

  • the material that the door is made of and the amount of heat lost through that material,
  • whether there is glazing in the door and how much heat is lost through that,
  • the way the door is fitted and how well it fits. 

Wood and UPVC (rigid PVC) are common components of doors, but you can also buy some made of MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) or with steel reinforcing. 

Government legislation means that all new doors must be compliant with Part L or building regulations. This means that they must have a U-value of 1.8 W/m2K or less (that’s a measurement of how much heat is lost through the door). If you are looking for a new door, check the U-value (you may have to search for it) or check if there is an energy efficiency label. You want a B rating or better.

If your door is going to have glazing you want it to be at least double glazed and preferably triple glazed (many manufacturers offer this now). Most will use low emissivity glass and have argon fill. 

Finally, you need to look at how the door is fitted and whether there is good draught-proofing. Some of the big double glazing specialists do now offer energy efficient doors and will focus on the draught-proofing ‘as standard’. Some will advertise thicker frames with U-values down to 1.0 W/m2K. Using a local installer and emphasising your focus on energy efficiency can work just as well.

The important thing is to make sure that you check these things. If you are searching a website, look at the fine print, if you are talking to an installer discuss the specifics. Don’t be shy about getting something in writing. Some installers may offer you an ‘energy upgrade’ or ‘thermal upgrade’ to get the most efficient doors. You have to make it clear that you want something as energy efficient as possible. 

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