Threat is a bit of a strong word really. It’s not as if one material is out for the demise of another. Although when you think of how PVCu has dominated the residential market over the past three or four decades, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that PVCu did in fact almost wipe aluminium out of that market. However, the tables are turning, and it’s the PVCu sector that needs to be wary of the comeback aluminium is having in the residential sector.
Driven by bi-folds
For me, the recent rise in the popularity of aluminium has been down to the bi-folding door market. When you look at the number of bi-fold products and bi-fold companies, the majority is aluminium based. And the general public has been brought up on bi-folds being aluminium.
So with regards to that product, home owners have been getting used to aluminium. It seems natural then that if a home’s doors are going to be aluminium, then why not windows too?
That is why we are starting to see aluminium door companies branching out into windows. The most obvious case in point would be Origin. A company based purely around bi-folds, they announced not so long ago their brand new range of aluminium windows. It seems a natural progression to go from doors to windows seeing as though aluminium bi-fold doors have become so popular.
With that in mind, the recent successful launch of the WarmCore aluminium/PVCu hybrid bi-folding door system should before long spawn a range of aluminium windows to go with it.
How realistic a threat
One of the reasons why PVCu became so established and popular was price, and it’s price that has allowed it to continue to remain popular, along with many other reasons. When you lower the price of anything, you make it instantly accessible to a much wider audience.
But would the industry really want to do that to a higher end product like aluminium windows and doors? Probably not. The general public are already conditioned to assume that aluminium windows and doors naturally cost more. They understand the level of quality of the product. It means they are usually happy to pay more.
So there would be a general reluctance from most companies to lower prices. Because of this higher price bracket, does that mean that in reality aluminium windows and doors won’t actually cause any threat to the PVCu residential sector?
Well yes and no. It will depend on the types of clients and the number of installers that decide to start selling an aluminium system alongside their existing PVCu ones. Judging by the rise in product portfolio diversification from installers, it’s highly likely that more will take up an aluminium product where before they had non. That means more of the industry’s installers will naturally show an aluminium product as well as a PVCu one. And by laws of averages, the more that increases, the more aluminium sales will increase over time.
This won’t be a quick effect however. The higher prices commanded by aluminium products means that for some home owners this simply won’t be an option to consider. But there will be those home owners that perhaps have forgotten about aluminium as an options, so once they see good aluminium windows and doors may change their minds and be open to the idea of ditching PVCu.
This isn’t anything to be feared by installers. They simply have to remember to move with the times and ensure that they are suitably equipped to deal with home owners who are after aluminium windows and doors, or are at least open to the idea of them.