Some entrances are even curved or arched, but that is a topic for another time!
A door that has side windows or a window above (referred to as a ‘top box’) is known as a ‘combination frame’. There are various frame styles available, and you can view them all on our online door designer.
Common combination frames include two full height side panels either side of the door, or a full height side panel to one side of the door. You will also see a lot of smaller windows that sit either side of the door on brickwork – usually about halfway up the height of the door. These are known as flag windows.
It is important to note that on any combination frame we supply, the side panels will be supplied as separate windows and coupled to the door and frame on site. Making the whole frame in one unit usually results in a lot of flex in the frame once fitted, so this ensures a much stronger fixing.
One question we hear from time to time is whether it is possible to keep existing side windows. We would always recommend replacing the whole combination frame if possible, as this means all of the frames will be a perfect match. You will also benefit from energy efficient glass, which on a combination frame can make a noticeable difference to your heating bills.
In some instances however, customers prefer to try and avoid replacing the whole combination frame. One aspect may be cost – consider a door opening that is 2.5 metres square; the door would be in the middle with glazed panels on both sides and above. This would be a much bigger job to replace the whole combination as opposed to just the door, so naturally keeping the existing side frames would save money.
Another scenario maybe that the existing frames are thick timber and set back into the property – this is common on older period houses and these are generally a little trickier to remove. Sometimes it is tempting to leave really old timber frames in to avoid disturbing the walls. If you think about it, removing a timber frame that has been in situe for over a hundred years is almost bound to leave some inevitable damage! That said, its nothing our fitting teams can’t handle…
The simple answer is that we are happy to leave existing frames in – as long as it is possible. Take a look at this 4 panel solid white door we fitted in Essex last year. The customer had an existing uPVC door that was flimsy and not very secure – it also spoiled the look of the house as it was starting to discolour.
The customer needed a new front door, but the existing uPVC windows were in pretty good condition, and had only been in a few years. If you want to keep existing uPVC windows, assuming were installed in the last 10-15 years they are probably 70mm thick (now the industry standard). If this is the case our frames can be coupled to the existing, and as you can see from this job we have made a lovely job.
The only thing to note here is that there are various shades of white uPVC, so there is no guarantee the white will be an exact match if we match up to existing windows.
Take a look at this oak door combination frame in Somerset. This is a good example of a door frame that cannot remain and must be completely removed. As is common with timber doors, the whole frame has been made in one section, which is the first problem. It is possible to cut timber frames down, in an attempt to fit the door in the middle and leave the two side windows.
Not only would this look bad (wooden frames butting up to white uPVC is a no-no – its one or the other!), but the timber frame section is not 70mm and generally not suitable to couple to a uPVC frame. As you can see from the after picture, this customer was happy to have the whole combination replaced by Global, and just look at the result!
If you are concerned about your existing windows, call our sales team who will be able to advise. Remember, if you choose our first class composite doors installation service our surveyor will also be able to confirm your options.