Paul King, from leading door specialist, Vicaima, describes the necessities for fire doors, and the range of luxury doors they offer
What makes a Vicaima door stand out from the crowd
Vicaima’s reputation for quality and performance is renowned within the industry, however one word sums up why our doors are so widely specified, and that is innovation. Innovation in design, manufacturing and performance means that that Vicaima doors offer true quality and a finish that can make a statement in its environment.
With our in-house technical, R & D and Design Teams we are constantly looking to push the envelope. Regular attendance at industry and design shows around the world allows us to keep in-touch with trends; in-house development ensures our products exceed expectations and independent performance testing allows us to comply with some of the most demanding regulations in a variety of project locations.
There is a lot of versatility among your range, does that separate you from your competitors?
Being able to offer choice is very important for today’s residential market. One important element in making a selection of the most appropriate doors for a residential project, which often begins with aesthetics. In past decades, door finish selection was often limited to a either a plain white painted or a simple tree species colour like Oak. Today however Vicaima can provide a vast palette to select from, including veneer, foil and laminate faced doors in an abundance of hues and textural surfaces.
Although mother-nature in the form of real veneer is still very popular with specifiers, Vicaima can further enhance its appeal with the use of stained veneers. By adding a semi-transparent and consistent stain finish to crown or quarter cut real Ash veneer, it is possible to introduce striking contemporary designs with the beauty of wood grain appearing through on-trend tones of greys, browns or perhaps even green to stunning effect.
In addition to colour, Vicaima also have the ability to add a finishing-touch to many of our designs, effectively allowing the specifier to create something almost personal without going to the expense of a completely bespoke option. In a range that has endless possibilities, Vicaima can provide ‘customise your door’ options with the addition of inlays, glazing and face grooving to a choice of standard doors. You can even customise within your chosen options. For example. Vicaima can offer twelve groove designs, three different shaped groove patterns and five different stains to go within the choice of grooves. This pick and mix concept allows creativity to flourish and almost endless possibilities.
Vicaima’s ability to provide these visually appealing surfaces in conjunction with performance cores, standard and non-standard dimensions, in addition to the provision of door only or complete doorsets makes life easy for house builders and contractors and means that our versatility stands out from the often restricted offerings available elsewhere.
You’ve been in operation 60 years now, does that heritage and history go a long way for the company?
Vicaima started out as a small Portuguese family carpentry and building supplies business way back in 1959. Today, while still influenced by that family ethos, Vicaima operates in over 30 countries worldwide and manufactures in excess of 1.5 million doors per year. Selling product in a diverse range of markets.
Closer to home, Vicaima have played an active role in the UK since 1988. From our base in Swindon, Wiltshire, where we own a 7-acre site; we are supplying both the mainland and the whole of Ireland.
The team here has built a strong relationship across the supply chain and a real understanding of what it takes to satisfy a rightly demanding sector. We like to feel that we have built a reputation for quality products that are more than fit for purpose.
This history and passion for the door industry is at the heart of everything we do, and the experience gained tells us to look to the future for new ideas and opportunities.
Is there a certain type of door at the company that takes priority?
All doors are important, but it would be fair to say that fire doors play a significant role within the organisation. Of course, from a residential developer prospective, regulations dictate that fire doors or doorsets are obligatory for high rise and certain locations such as integral garages within houses. However, in an increasingly safety conscious world the superior performance and heavyweight look and feel of a fire door often sees them specified throughout properties.
Vicaima have always been a specialist fire door manufacturer, in fact we were among one of the first companies to whole-heartedly endorse the merits of third-party accreditation, as demonstrated by our membership of not one but two third party schemes. Soon to be a corner stone of the new building regulation and widely recommended in the Hackitt report following the tragedy of Grenfell, independently audited fire doors support the need for stringent testing and traceability.
Providing it has been installed correctly, you only need to look at the top edge of a Vicaima fire door to gain complete reassurance. With clear identification of the product, its fire rating, its manufacturing batch and of course the BWF-Certifire and TRADA Q-Mark markings, to realise you are in safe hands.
As the words of our recent publicity campaign says, don’t play with fire. Saving lives and property are the reason these critical products are used, so at Vicaima we never cut corners. Whether a customer buys the least or most expensive Vicaima fire door from our range, the core performance remains the same.
How much research goes into developing a door at Vicaima?
As already mentioned, innovation is at the heart Vicaima. The market is forever changing and so our products need to push boundaries and offer new solutions constantly. Part of this process into researching new products comes from customer feedback. Listening to specifiers concerns or more commonly their desires and visions, helps us to focus on what the market really wants. Whether it is a ground-breaking acoustic doorset solution or a stylish new surface design, we have the expertise to turn an idea into reality.
Operating as we do around the globe, Vicaima can draw upon inspiration not only from a cultural and local prospective, but also from other market segments. One example of this being the influence of hotel interiors upon residential development. The Vicaima Group has built a strong reputation in the supply of performance doors, doorsets, furniture and even decorative wall panelling for the worldwide 4- and 5-star hotel market. In the high-end leisure environment, interior design concepts are very often bespoke and can sometimes take years to move from drawing board to finished article. However, both markets remain consistent in one respect, that being the demand for quality and a feeling of luxury. Homeowners experience and aspire to these high-end surroundings, either directly or via exposure to the media and therefore desire no less for their own properties. At Vicaima we aim to re-create the essence of luxury and superior design, but within reach of a new and more discerning residential market.
What was the most popular product that you had in 2018?
A number of products proved very popular with our customers last year and this was especially true because we introduced an extensive range of new collections and finishes. These included our Classic M Range, a sleek and stylish shallow relief solid panel door in contemporary lacquered colours; Visual Sensations, a new range of foil faced doors bringing the drama of exterior landscape to the world inside; Rustic Stained Range, where real veneer is transformed to create exciting and new tonal possibilities.
All of the above struck a positive chord with our customers in 2018, however if I were to pick our most popular door finish it would have to be the Dekordor SD White Woodgrain. With the days of painting white moulded hardboard faced doors on site, slowly being consigned to the dim and distant past of the 20th century, Forward thinking developers are turning to the fresh-faced appeal of a modern white fully finished flush door. Giving homes a more contemporary feel with a crisp bright white look creates a perception of space and acts as the perfect accompaniment to a minimalistic décor. One door model which exemplifies this rising trend is the Vicaima Dekordor White Woodgrain. Offering a durable laminate bright white finish and grain effect, this door model has been a real hit with developers. As a plain flush door, it has instant appeal, however it also offers a clean canvas on which to add that finishing touch to allow developers to make the design their own, by adding one of the many factory applied options available. With a host of groove designs or inlays such as the popular satin finish, these doors can be transformed into something really special, but without the usual cost burden of a typical bespoke product.
How have operations been in the UK for the company?
Vicaima have been and continue to be a successful company. In fact, 2019 has seen a significant increase in the demand for our products. To compliment this success and in a move that flies against received wisdom that European investment in the UK is shrinking, our Portuguese parent company is currently undertaking a major overhaul and refurbishment of our UK base.
With a substantial financial injection already allocated for phase 1 of the project, at our Swindon site, we have seen the opening of a 500m2 new visitor centre and complete transformation of our administration block, which houses our commercial and technical operations. Further work is already planned across our wholly owned 7-acre site with an extension of production facilities and re-configuration of our UK warehousing facility, currently housing in excess of 100,000 doors.
What has been the highlight for you so far this year?
Undoubtedly, the opening of our New Vicaima Visitor Centre in Swindon has given the team, and me, the greatest pleasure. Inspired by our 2017 attendance at the 100% Design show in Olympia, where we exhibited from two of the largest stands at the event; we set about creating an environment where customers and specifiers could immerse themselves in fresh ideas and inspiration. In a setting that most closely resembles an art gallery, visitors can view doors, doorsets and decorative wall panelling in a variety of guises. With wall mounted and LED backlit products, room scenarios and working modules displayed in spacious and relaxed surroundings, the visitor centre permits a truly creative experience. Furthermore, it challenges preconceived ideas of what interior doors and doorsets have to offer the developer and how these innovative and performance led products, have the ability to encapsulate an idea or vision for residential living.
For perhaps the first time it creates a window into the real Vicaima, showing how different we are from what you might expect in a door manufacturer.