Hybrids have generally had a bit of a stuttering start in our industry. Promised as the next stage in the evolution of window and door products, slow demand, build and quality issues, a volatile economy and a luke warm response by the industry has meant it really hasn’t made the impact it perhaps should have done.

But take a more focused look at what is out there and what shines out brightest in the hybrid market is Synseal’s WarmCore range of windows and doors. For me, it is the the front runner in the hybrid market, and what has set the current hybrid benchmark.

Proof is in the fabrication

One measure of success of any product in our industry is to look at the take up of the product by fabricators. Initially, WarmCore was singularly produced by Synseal at their factories. But this was only for a short while, and it was then given out to fabricators to produce for their installers.

The result is that some of the industry’s most forward thinking and innovative fabricators have taken WarmCore on board, and those numbers are growing. According to my source at Synseal, there are 15 carefully selected fabricators currently set up or about to go online producing WarmCore, with another 25 waiting in the wings. That gives us 40 so far. I have been informed that Synseal do no intend to go past 50 fabricators, so as to maintain the value of the high-end brand they intend to cultivate. That’s not a bad strategy.

Given the high end nature of the product and it’s price point being higher than traditional PVCu, this is a good uptake for a product that is only a few years old. And the fact that they appear to have 80% of their quota of fabricators in place, this for me is good faith shown by the industry in this product.

Build quality

I have personally sold WarmCore on a number of occasions in recent months and can vouch for the build quality of the product. They have all been bi-folds up to press, but every one has been top notch, with the all important home owner very pleased with the end result.

WarmCore, as you may or may not know is a British design, built from scratch to take the best thermal bits of PVCu, combining them with the best aesthetics of aluminium to create a hybrid that bridges the gap between the two materials. Available in four standard colours; white, black, cream and 7016 grey, internally and externally, most of the popular colour bases are covered. It’s also available in four different frame details, dependent on the look the home owner is after. So choice is readily available in the range.

But it’s the hardware that is in-built into this product which is also impressive:

Everything about the hardware shouts quality. Items like the hinges, the runners, the D-handle, they all seem that little bit bigger and little bit stronger than the single-material bi-fold doors out there. In fact they look very German, although it’s made on these shores.

But beyond it’s technical capabilities, it’s PAS tests and thermal performance, which is very good at 0.9 U-Value at 44mm triple glazed by the way, it looks damn good. And that ladies and gents, when all is said and done, is what the home owner is perhaps most concerned about in 2016. Amazing U-Value, British design and engineering, high security are all of course plus points. But we all know that it’s looks and aesthetics that truly grab the attention of the home owner, and WarmCore does indeed do that.

Now, as with any product, there are pros and cons when comparing to other products in the marketplace. For example, a true aluminium bi-folding door or window will always give you slimmer sight-lines than a WarmCore window or door will. It’s hybrid build will always mean that it’s that little bit thicker on the frame than true aluminium. But that is the nature of a hybrid product and is something we all should accept when talking through the options with the homeowner.

Price point

To my mind, WarmCore isn’t all that expensive, when you consider the quality of the product you’re getting. It will cost more than a PVCu bi-folding door, but less than a true aluminium one. I should know, I’ve priced up plenty in the last few months. So it’s sits nicely in between the two main glazing materials of choice right now.

It’s middle placement also means it’s easier for a salesperson to use it as a stepping stone from PVCu to WarmCore without it costing too much, or a stepping stone down from aluminium for those homeowners who may be overstretching their budget a little. Homeowners, although inclined in the UK to veer towards a bargain, still want value for money and quality, and I think WarmCore sits in that niche quite nicely.

These reasons for me is why WarmCore has set the standard so far when it comes to hybrids, or at least the PVCu/ali hybrid market. It will be interesting to see if any new hybrid products enter the market in the coming years, and if manufacturers look to WarmCore as a template to improve upon.

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