n terms of new products and innovations, the UK window and door industry has really put it’s foot to the floor in recent years. The glut of new products and improvements to existing ones has really moved the window and door industry in this country forward. However, compared to Europe and Scandinavia, we’re still very far behind. There is lots more innovating to do, and much more to improve on the quality front before we reach German or Austrian standards. This is my look at five areas where our industry might have to go to in the future:
More composite products
I feel that PVC, aluminium and timber can only go so far on their own. We can keep improving the energy ratings in each one, but eventually they will plateau. So, as we have already started to see in a few products on the market, the industry in the future is going to have to start experimenting properly with mixing two, or all three of the materials together.
Now at Fensterbau last year there was a PVC/aluminium/timber product shown off to the visitors. I’m not sure which manufacturer it was from, but I’m fairly sure it was European and definitely nowhere near entering the UK market. But, if companies in the industry here over the next few years could start really delving into the possibilities of producing a product which combines all three and exploits the advantages of all three, I think it could really push the boundaries of UK fenestration, and maybe even catch up with other parts of Europe. We won’t catch up mind you, I reckon we’re at least 20 years behind Germany!
Composite doors will have to get thicker
As far as single rebate composite doors go, 44mm is considered the standard. Solidor of course do a 48mm timber slab as standard. But as standards (hopefully) continue to improve over the years, a single rebated 44/48mm slab will be seen as below par as more companies might start looking to thicker slabs.
For me, the overall composite door industry is in it’s second phase. The first phase was around a decade ago when composites really landed. A few manufacturers had a go at it, with rudimentary slabs, crude wood grains and colours that faded rather quickly. Phase two came along with companies of the likes of Door-Stop, Distinction Doors and Solidor. They went down the single rebate route, offering a more timberesque look internally with a flush finish, far better colours and a mix of foam and timber cores. However, problems still remain. There are still cases of warping, colour fading and generally poor quality control.
Phase three though will demand that slabs get thicker, and with the option of both a single and double rebated option. Lets face it, there are certain advantages that a double rebate has over a single rebate. It could and should be a possibility that dedicated composite door makers provide a single and double rebated options.
Triple glazing will become the norm, like it or not
Triple glazing is coming, whether we like it or not. Single glazing turned to double over time, the same will happen again.
It’s not going to be a quick process however. It’s not going to explode this year, or even in 2016. But over the next five to ten years, triple glazing I think is really going to bed in. But what is going to be the cause?
Well, the case for it being more energy efficient might improve as the technology gets better and it genuinely becomes better than double. But that’s not going to be the main reason. No, the main reason is going to be when the industry starts to develop and produce profile systems dedicated to taking 40mm and 44mm triple glazed units. Right now, there are only a handful of profiles out there developed to take such wide units. Are they perfect? Probably not. We’re really only just getting to grips with it, and trial and error is still in full flow. But in five to ten years time, syscos will start to produce high quality, triple glazing specific profiles. And when that happens, the industry will be able to really get behind it and start to push both the energy efficiency and build quality message to the general public.
When you look at what the Germans, Austrians and Scandinavians are pumping out right now in the door market, they make most of our UK doors look at least 20 years old. Anyone who went to Fensterbau could vouch for that. Well I believe that things might change in the coming years.
There are a few aluminium and steel door companies out there now starting to really develop their doors and produce some stunning designs and with the security to match it too. I have already features companies on DGB in previous months that are trying to move the UK door market along at a faster pace. Take Deuren for example. They use a mix of ceramic and concrete in some of their doors. They look amazing, and must weigh a ton. They have the price tag to match. But the point is there are no some UK door companies trying to move the doors industry along. In the future, I hope that the Germans might not be so far ahead of us.
Technology continues to move apace, the CES 2015 tech show demonstrates that perfectly. There are also big developments occurring in the field of clear solar panels. We all got a bit excited last year when we saw the first clear solar panels and wondered how long it would be before windows and doors would be able to make the most of this technology.
In the mid to long term I would like to think that our industry could start to use new technologies like clear solar panels, touch screen glass surfaces and similar. For those of us that deal with commercial work and big self-build projects where money is no object, there could be a niche where glazing companies could start to incorporate touch and solar technologies into their product portfolios.
These are just a few of my guesses at where the industry is going to in the next few years. There is of course developments in other areas like solid roofs, pre-fab products like Loggia and other areas too. I would love to read your thoughts on this. All comments are welcome in the section below.
To get daily updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe: