In Depth: Windows and doors
Simplicity in styles and an emphasis on technology-driven sales tools put the power for increased sales in the hands of distributors.
Once upon a time, a major player in the real estate world said that windows and doors didn’t matter, that consumers simply expect them in a home but don’t think much about them. Now, few products in the building industry have emerged to have more impact on homeowners and builders alike making personal statements with a structure. And the doors and windows industry as a whole continues to provide prevailing and emerging trends in design.
Gone are the days of gaudiness, of the overly ornate. Instead, simplicity rules, and an appreciation for timeless design seems to be steadying the pendulum swing that at times over the past few decades has swung to the extreme.
As well, a steadiness prevails in the projected growth of the window and door market. According to the Windows and Doors Market Forecast by The Freedonia Group, the fenestration industry as a whole is poised for consistent growth, with an expected annual growth rate of 4.8% through 2021, a growth that doesn’t even factor in the devastating impact of last year’s natural disasters. Even before California was ravaged by wildfires in December, 2017 looked to be one of the worst years on record in regards to property damage.
According to the news source The Hill which cited Moody’s investor services, Hurricane Maria caused $40 billion worth of destruction, Irma brought about $56.5 billion, and Harvey another $73 billion. Calculate in the aforementioned wildfires (which California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones estimates caused $11.8 billion), and you have an industry that is positioned for long-term growth and robust short-term rebuilding.
George Castro, Sales Director for Neuma Doors, sees strong growth on the horizon. “The rate of growth depends on the market segment,” he explains. “New construction growth could be in the single digits; however, we could see an excess of 14% growth in the multi-family and remodeling segments. Due to impact of Harvey in the State of Texas, those numbers may be even greater for the next two to three years.”
“If the first two months of 2018 are a bellwether for the rest of the year, our industry is going to be all smiles,” says Darek Szyszko, Business Manager for Glenview Doors. “In particular, we have noticed a drastic uptick in single-family and mid- to high-end custom work. We are very bullish on 2018, and the recent stock market highs and resurgence of new construction has been a great boon for our industry. We are projecting and have planned for a double-digit year-toyear increase for 2018.”
Mark Montgomery, Vice President of Marketing at Ply Gem Windows, shares Castro’s and Szyszko’s optimism. “We’ve seen steady growth of windows and doors in the U.S. and Canada, especially in the new construction market,” he says. “We anticipate this will continue over the next few years as consumer confidence and demand for housing remains high. The remodeling market is also a strong growth area for Ply Gem, and while we’ve seen the demand for multifamily units slow down, it still remains at a healthy level.”
Ornate, no. Simplicity, yes
Remodelers, contractors, builders and architects are seeking differentiating ways to incorporate doors and windows into their work, and if there’s a buzzword in the category this year, it’s “prefinished.” With a color palette that’s trending toward darker hues, builders are looking for products that enable fast installations and deliver on low maintenance. According to Glass- Craft Doors, more than 50% of its wood doors, 80% of its fiberglass composite doors, and 100% of its steel doors are ordered with a factory finish.
And consumers aren’t limited to finishes that are determined by the factory. As Phil Wengerd, Vice President of Market Strategies for ProVia explains, “More homeowners are taking advantage of the opportunity to choose custom colors for their windows. For example, ProVia’s painted window program offers nearly unlimited options. Customers can choose from 16 standard paint colors, or they can go to a Sherwin- Williams paint store and make a color selection, or they can provide a paint sample for ProVia to match.”
If there’s a trend that’s fading, it’s the demand for the elaborate. Instead of doors or windows with beveled glass and ornate design, homeowners and builders alike are opting for simpler designs, clean lines, and large unobstructed expanses of glass. “In doorglass, we are seeing more customers with preferences for minimalist design,” says Scot Harder, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ODL’s Pro Channel. In response to this trend, ODL is focusing on designs that incorporate fewer bevels, and instead using metals, glass and printing as featured design elements.
“The ultra-elaborate leaded/beveled glass door is dropping quickly in demand,” says John Plummer, founder and President of GlassCraft Door Company. “Instead, it’s being replaced by much simpler design offerings such as divided lite or mid-century modern doors.” Wes Ley, Product Manager of entry and storm doors for ProVia, agrees with Plummer. “In terms of style, Craftsman and Modern doors are both popular right now,” he says, adding that homeowners are gravitating toward tones of grays and blues.
Kris Hanson is Senior Manager of Product Management at Marvin Windows and Doors, and he also sees homeowners gravitating toward larger, simpler designs but with a softer feel. “We believe this trend will continue, as homeowners’ desire to bring in more natural light will only increase,” he explains. “In addition to bigger sizes, we’re noticing the popular geometric styles of contemporary and modern design are softening with more round top windows and doors being used, and an increasing appreciation for the warmth and character of wood materials.”
And because of the aforementioned storms of the past year, there’s an increased interest in fenestration products that are capable of withstanding extreme environments and harsh conditions. According to Ply Gem, builders and remodelers are seeking windows and doors that have high impact ratings, combined with easy operation for the homeowner.