The design of doors and windows is ever-evolving as architects look to combine aesthetics and practicality with both assuming greater significance in GCC market in recent times.
A greater emphasis on design from architects means that products are no longer just viewed as functional exits and entrances.
And increased safety and environmentally friendly demands have ensured that manufacturers have to innovate in order to increase their share of a competitive market.
Also, aesthetics have become increasingly important as metal, glass, plastic and other materials in addition to traditional wooden frames are utilised.
Massive housing projects and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, and the continuing work in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are just some of the factors which are fuelling the need for greater production an innovation – and windows are a principal factor in Middle Eastern building design to maximise natural light.
Saudi Arabia accounts for just over half the demand and the UAE a quarter with the market dependent on the number of construction projects, both new buildings and repair and retrofit.
And the increasing emphasis on environmental and energy ratings, means the business has added to its importance in the market.
The demand for windows and doors in GCC is expected to exceed $5bn in 2014 – around 3.5% of the global demand.
The demand for windows market is – in part – the result of eco-friendly construction codes and energy ratings.
Energy performance of windows is driven primarily by two main components – glass and frame construction. UAE regulations call for the use of double glazed glass for curtain walls and windows because of its high insulating properties resulting in significant reductions in cooling costs and consequently energy savings.
In addition to double glazed glass, low emission glass is highly preferred for windows and curtain walls. This differs from normal clear glass as one of its sides has a special metal coating which again helps in insulation.
Emirates Glass has been at the forefront of pioneering the double skin facade which comprises of two glass skins placed in such a way that air flows in the resulting cavity.
The production of glazing is also subject to International Building Codes due to the complex nature of the product and the life safety specifications required in producing it.
With GCC construction focusing on high rise projects with lots of glass, there is also a growing demand for glass cleaning. Emirates Glass has introduced a product that is coated with titanium dioxide on the outer surface of the glass.
The glass cleans itself in two stages with the first stage involving light on the surface driving away as much of the dirt as possible before water applied to the surface washes it completely.
Origin is another company looking to innovate with its windows featuring built-in weather resistance that prevents unwanted sand, dust and water particles from entering an interior living space. The solar control glass reduces glare and minimises the need for air-conditioning which in turn cuts running costs and saves energy, while hermetic sealing and double glazing adds an acoustic barrier.
Across the region wooden doors are the most popular, accounting for more than half of the total demand. Aluminium also is utilised, mainly in commercial buildings with steel and PVC also increasing in usage.
Dorma has introduced a low energy swing door which has a regulatory feature governing the speed at which doors are open ensuring added safety and easier movement of heavy loads. Energy savings from this device ensure that these doors leave one of the smallest carbon footprints in the industry.
Also, Geze Middle East provides manual as well as automatic doors with movement detectors, presence detectors, combined detector, programme switches and smoke detectors.
These features provide added convenience and also provide a high level of security in the event of fire or other emergencies.
Interior doors are most commonly made of wood. The most common feature a hollow core and a molded door face or skin.
For security and the ability to withstand harsh conditions steel remains most effective.
A steel door slab features an interior and exterior steel skin on both sides of a core made up of an insulating foam surrounded by a wood perimeter to provide energy efficiency. Steel door slabs are produced in a variety of solid panel styles.
They often have a section cut out and replaced with a decorative glass panel and can be available in stainable versions to offer a woodgrain look – however this is relatively expensive.
Fiberglass had recently seen a tremendous increase in popularity in the exterior door market as companies seek to find new and lightweight materials. Constructed similarly to steel doors, with a fiberglass composite skin in place of metal, these types of doors are also designed to provide good energy efficiency and low maintenance. One advantage of fiberglass is a comparative higher resistance to dents.
The most common framing materials used for windows and doors are wood, vinyl, and aluminium – but recent introductions to a competitive field include fiberglass and a number of composites.
Manufacturers also combine materials – producing vinyl or aluminium-clad wood products, wood-clad vinyl products and other such hybrids.
Vinyl offers good thermal performance and requires little maintenance. It is especially appropriate for air conditioning so it has become one of the most popular choices across the Middle East.
Most vinyl products incorporate rigid vinyl with multi-chamber profiles for strength and insulation. Frame and sash corners are generally welded, creating a joint that is generally more resistant to air infiltration than corners fastened with screws.
Other materials include steel, cellular PVC, thermoplastic alloys, engineered plastics, and wood and plastic composites.
Recent trends have seen a number of manufacturers use composite materials to offer a look closer to a wooden frame combined with the low maintenance features of vinyl.