In an industry founded on mimicry, Apeer’s new Silka range offers an interesting resi door alternative to complement aluminium windows
The modern home improvement window and door industry was founded upon mimicry and deception and continues to follow that path. No, we are not referring to questionable sales practices (something that, fortunately, remains largely in the past) but rather the fact that pretty much every window and door sold in the market is chosen because it looks like something else; enormous effort has always been expended on developing PVC-U and aluminium windows and doors to emulate timber. And now, paradoxically, PVC-U windows – and the Apeer SIlka door range – are produced to mimic aluminium.
Producers of the new wave of aluminium window systems may not agree with the old adage of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery in this case of course; parsimonious homeowners may well choose a houseful of PVC-U frames over aluminium simply because it looks close enough when painted in anthracite. But that is how PVC-U windows have now been styled – a lower price alternative to aluminium, which largely remains at premium prices.
But what of residential doors? With aluminium entrance doors often commanding a significantly higher price than GRP-faced composite alternatives, perhaps there is a better case for a well finished resi door ‘imposter’ even than for window frames.
Asa McGillian certainly believes so and sales of his company’s ali-like Silka doors, since their launch last spring, would indicate that he is correct. As the MD of composite door-maker Apeer, also responsible for the extraordinary Lumi ‘frameless’ window system, Asa took a step away from pursuit of the perfect woodgrain emulation, and instead of authentic woodgrain prints he set his development team the task of creating a perfectly smooth skin with paint processes that could stand close scrutiny when installed in a houseful of aluminium windows.
Asa insists that Silka provides an excellent alternative to aluminium-skinned residential doors, based upon price but also, he insists, performance and toughness: “Silka is a smooth matt finish door which looks like aluminium but which has all the benefits of a double rebate, triple glazed 70mm composite and which is inherently more robust than aluminium skinned doors. Oh, and at a more competitive price point,” he says.
Asa maintains that the development of a GRP skinned door that was imperceptible from coated aluminium, was not a simple process: “We set about producing a brand-new smooth fibreglass skin – which is much harder than it sounds – and which involved several trips to the mould manufacturer. The paint finish also requires a different method than used for other Apeer doors. It is air dried rather than painted in our two usual infrared lines. But the flexibility of our manufacturing systems also allows us to offer a huge range of colour options,” he explains.
“Of course, this means that each Silka door takes longer and is more intensive to produce. But that’s OK, we have the facilities and skills to produce something that’s a little more exclusive, but which still offers great value for money. And actually, especially for someone looking to complement aluminium windows, Silka pricing is very attractive.”
The proof of course, must be measured in sales. “Demand came from our customers, who told us that many of their homeowner customers found aluminium residential doors too expensive, even after they have ordered aluminium windows. And sales have reflected that anecdotal demand with hard orders taken from the moment we revealed Silka at the 2019 FIT Show. It’s one of our most successful launches ever.”