Not so long ago I wrote about three possible directions our industry could go in during the next few years. They were three very distinctive directions but all very possible. However in the past year or so it has been very obvious that the trend is very aluminium.
Although the PVCu sector has gone through some energetic and very obvious evolutions of it’s own, the aluminium market in the residential sector has somewhat exploded. The products have developed way beyond what their first generation products represented. And they are most certainly very fashionable once again.
Fabricators know this, and they’re certainly making the most of it.
Disclaimer: I know full well I’ve used in the above featured image a WarmCore product which I have previously argued as being a hybrid! But it is part aluminium and does help me prove my point!
A raft of new aluminium products
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Or in this case aluminium. You only need to look at the new products that have been announced in the past couple of years. WarmCore, as an example, uses aluminium in it’s hybrid product. Lots of fabricators who were previously dedicated to PVCu are now taking on this new system of windows and doors.
Then there is the Raum range of doors by the guys at Dekko. More and more fabricators in fact are now producing an aluminium range of windows and doors as part of their wider product portfolio. Prefix Systems for example fabricate Smarts aluminium windows and doors, even though their primary business is glazed extension roofs and Garden Room roofs. Not only that, they’ve even brought out their own high end range of timber/aluminium hybrid windows and doors called Opus. I’ll be reviewing that on DGB very soon.
I think one of the best examples of the strength in the aluminium residential sector is the success of The Window Outlet. This is an aluminium fabrication business that was set up by a splendid chap called Ben Warren. He set up this new business when it could be argued that the industry wasn’t in the purple patch it is right now. A few short years on his business has grown exponentially and has even won the Aluminium Fabricator award at the 2015 National Fenestration Awards.
There is a very clear and strong pattern from fabricators new and already established that aluminium windows and doors are a product that can bring a healthy and renewed margin.
Intent from installers
It’s all well and good fabricators deciding to product aluminium products, but there has to be demand from installer as well. Fabricators will need some return on investment and it needs their installer customer base to deliver on those sales to return that investment.
And return installers are doing. You only need to look at social media and the images and promotional posts being made to show how well aluminium is now doing in the residential sector.
There was a time of course, not that long ago in fact, where PVCu was very obviously the king of the residential market. There was no coming close to it. Both timber and aluminium were way off. However, there has been a very effective comeback in the aluminium sector on the residential front, with windows and door products that can very confidently claim to be the best produced, nicest aesthetically, energy efficient windows and doors that you can buy.
Installers are at the coal face as the saying goes. They know better than most what residential customers are asking for. They certainly wouldn’t be pushing aluminium products if there was no demand there.
So, back to the question at hand, do fabricators of windows and doors see the future of the sector in aluminium?
I suspect that they think it has an equal part to play. I don’t expect PVCu to ever give up it’s dominance of the residential sector. It is still very much in the front seat when it comes to percentage of market owned. But aluminium has certainly made a big comeback, and that cannot be ignored by either fabricators or installers.
The future I believe lies in a mixture of both aluminium and PVCu products by fabricators and installers. The aluminium market will continue to grow, but the PVCu market will also continue to improve. Both products will rival each other. So it will make sense for installers to sell both and let the home owner decide which is the most suitable for them.
Either way, the future looks positive from the point of view of choice and quality. And this is all down to the competition between the two sectors. Long may it continue!
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