For years, sash windows have sat proudly at the top of the pile for being probably the most prestigious, aspirational and sought after window that the consumer could buy. If you sold a decent PVC sash window that could almost mimic the look of an original timber one stood from about 5 meters back, then you knew you were on to a winner. They’re great, but the only thing that has held them back and prevented more being sold, is the price.
Once the consumer has been educated about the product and then been told how much the price is, a lot of the time it’s back to the drawing board to create something that looks like sash, but isn’t. Usually it’s 50/50 split top openers. Assuming you are using a premium sash product, you can pretty much count on a sash window being twice as much as a conventional top opener. So taking this into account, the industry has been hard at work over the last few years working on alternatives.
Mock sash details on 50/50 split openers and advanced wood grain effects and Georgian bars have made standard casements look closer to the real deal, but not perfect. But they have become a necessity over the last few years as the depressed economy has demanded cheaper alternatives for everything. The consumer has also become well aware of the mock sash alternative. So much so, that I think that at every possible sash window lead, the customer is now asking for the mock sash look at every chance. So maybe we’ve done too good a job?
I sometimes think that in our efforts to diversify during the toughest years, we have pushed away one of our most premium and star products. Some of you will come on here and say that we’re not up-selling the product enough and not promoting it in the right way. But I also know that a lot will be like us and be finding that the consumer, even if they know how good the sash window is, will always go for the mock sash look due to the reduced price tag. It’s inevitable, that after such a long time of recession, people are going to be in that mindset. After all, they’re not a bad alternative. It’s not as the products are bad…providing they’re good quality in the first place.
What I don’t think the industry should do is do what the composite door market has done and driven the price down. When that happens, quality suffers and we have all seen that in the composite door market in various forms. The last thins we want to do is take away any prestige and quality from our sash windows. We have to make sure that those championing timber sash windows and the anti-pvc brigade are given no ammunition to go to the consumer and say that PVC sash windows are terrible.
The PVC sash window has to remain that premium, aspirational product that people want to afford, even if it means saving up that little bit longer. It’s not often our customers have something to revere from our industry. I may have rambled on a bit in this post. I guess what I’m trying to say is that rather than always pushing the cheaper alternative and risk losing your share of the sash market altogether, we need to make sure the timber-alternative PVC sash window will always have it’s place and make it worth being a product we all want to sell.