Organic vs Hygienic GRP Doors: Infection Control and Best Practice in the Specification of Doors in Hygienic Settings.

Here at Dortek we are passionate about what we do. With over 50 years of experience in the door manufacturing industry there’s not much we don’t know. Les Blennerhassett, technical director of Dortek, Ireland’s leading suppliers of hygienic doors to the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector, explains the infection control benefits of using Dortek glass reinforced polyester (GRP) over wood and laminate doors in a hospital setting.

Operating theatre full of equipment.

Dortek Hygienic GRP Doors

Specifying doors in a hospital setting can be a daunting process. The growing demands of hygiene legislation and increasing pressure on hospitals to ensure performance matches the demands of the environment, means there are now more elements to consider than ever before.

“Traditionally, hospital doors have been painted wood or wooden cored laminate. However, because of increasing standards of hygiene and infection control, GRP is becoming the material of choice for the modern hospital designer, not only for high risk areas such as intensive care, pharmacy cleanrooms and operating theatres, but also for medium risk areas like recovery suites, laboratories and hydrotherapy pools.

GRP is a high technology engineering composite, manufactured from millions of strands of glass fibre and polyester resin. Dortek Hygienic Doors are manufactured in Ireland using a unique closed mould process, creating a strong, uniform product with no seams or joints on the door surface and no holes or crevices within that might harbour bacteria.

While wooden or laminate ‘lick and stick’ doors may be adequate for non-critical areas such as corridors, waiting areas and general office space, in areas where cleanliness is of the utmost importance, organic materials are not suitable. No one would consider using organic materials to make trolleys, benches or operating tables, and yet we still see doors manufactured with timber lippings, frames and vision panel surrounds in widespread use.

In a hospital setting, doors are subject to aggressive use and wear and tear on a regular basis, with trolleys manoeuvred in confined spaces inevitably hitting both the door and its frame. In the past, concerns were purely aesthetic, and repairs could be carried out when areas were closed for major maintenance. However, when surfaces are damaged these days there is an immediate risk to infection control that must be dealt with urgently. Whereas laminate and timber doors might need to be replaced in this instance, GRP doors are much stronger, and can be easily and effectively restored to their original state.

Timber and laminate doors are not only potentially weaker than GRP doors, and thus more easily damaged, but can also pose a higher risk, as a knock or chip may reveal organic materials below where bacteria could reproduce, as well as being virtually impossible both to clean and keep clean effectively. Unlike laminate and timber doors, which can deteriorate quickly once exposed to common cleaning regimes, hygienic GRP doors like those produced by Dortek Ireland are able to tolerate constant cleaning, the prolonged use of disinfectants, chlorine releasing agents and VHP (vaporised hydrogen peroxide).

The international pharmaceutical anti biotechnology industry has already turned its back on timber and laminate doors, replacing them with GRP as standard across many manufacturing facilities. With the standards of cleanliness demanded by such industries, hospital specifiers need to recognise that the downside of infection contamination in a cleanroom far outweighs any reason not to reconsider the decades-old thinking behind conventional hospital hygienic door specification.”

For more information on door specification in healthcare and other hygienic environments, please contact us at

Meet Our Project Manager, Andy Lowe

Please tell us a bit about yourself!

I have been in East Yorkshire now for 20 years, I moved up North from Somerset. I’m relatively new at Dortek, I started last September, my background prior to Dortek was very much site-based, working in the M&E sector on all commercial projects. A considerable amount of the work involved office fit-out and pharmaceutical warehouses.


What first inspired you into the engineering and architectural industry?

From a young age I always liked drawing, the only subject I was good at when I was at school was art and technology, I went on further to study aspects of design at university. I studied interior and landscape, architectural, which I graduated in with a bachelor honour. 


As an apprentice I worked within an architectural practice. From then on I knew I had a passion for construction, it was just finding the right sector within the industry. I’m very interested in the way things are put together. Whether it was playing with Lego as a kid or having a passion for buildings and the environments they sit within. Fulfilling my desire to combine creativity with practicality and problem solving, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at the time, I knew it was the career choice for me. 


What made you want to work for Dortek?

I was looking for a new challenge, a new chapter, everyone has personal goals to reach and I had a good feel for Dortek on my initial interview. I felt Dortek was going to push my career forward to where I was aiming to be and what I wanted to achieve. 


In my previous employment, for seven years, I worked away from home so having a perfect balance of site and office working now I’m at Dortek is great. 


How has COVID affected your role within Dortek?

I think COVID has been very challenging, especially within the construction industry; health and safety for contractors and everyone working on site is a huge factor. For the first couple of months at the company, I was on site shadowing engineers. Installing doors with face coverings or shields can be difficult at times, I found it was no longer the case of just turning up and starting work anymore, you need to be prepared with the testing procedures prior to arriving and on the day of arrival. 


Sites are very busy and can be very populated, working through a pandemic you always needed to use you own personal judgment. However, I strongly believe many contractors have developed new methods for delivering projects and ways to keep people communicating effectively whilst working together on a project. 


What do you like about working with Dortek?

It’s a very busy atmosphere working on Dortek’s project management team, which I love. I learnt very quickly that every day can be very different, dealing with numerous clients can be challenging yet extremely exciting and rewarding. As much as this opportunity came as a huge learning curve to me, the help and support I received from everyone within the team has been outstanding. Everyone has taken the time in some way to help me grow within the company. You really couldn’t have asked for better colleagues. 


What are your interests outside of work?

My two-year-old son keeps me very much on my toes, I follow rugby league, Hull Kingston rovers especially, so finally being able to take my son this year to a few home games will be a proud moment to share with him. I try to keep as active as possible swimming, mountain biking, and the odd game of 5 a-side-football.

Away from sport, me and my partner seem to be passing ships with her career as a nurse so whenever possible we like to get away from home, spending weekends exploring different places like the coast, Lake District and pretty much anywhere that has a good country pub. A few trips abroad are definitely well overdue, which we hope to make this year.

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