I’ve been selling full time to home owners at our family run business for nearly 12 years. Whilst comparatively not all that long compared to some of you reading this, it’s long enough to have seen what I would have considered a very stale industry turn into something very different.

When I first joined, composite doors were really only just taking root. White, Rosewood and Light Oak were the only colours for windows and doors. PVCu full panel doors were still selling in big numbers. Bi-fold doors weren’t even on the radar for most home owners. That was in 2006. Fast forward to 2017 and our industry looks massively different. Mostly for the better.

Right now, we have glimpses of what the future holds for the industry, at least on the product front. This is my prediction as to how the industry will look in ten years time.

White will be seriously unpopular

The rise in popularity of wood grains and colour for both windows and doors has been staggering over the past few years. I can’t remember the last smooth White door I sold. In fact I don’t think I have personally sold one so far this year.

Wood grained and coloured windows have also been really popular at our place this year. I think this will be a record year for sales of grained and coloured products at our place.

In ten years time, I believe that smooth White PVCu is going to fall our of favour with home owners in a serious way. I’m not saying sales will be eradicated completely. There will always be parts of the market that need it because it’s cheap, such as council property renovation and house builders. But in the residential part of the market, I think more and more home owners are going to ditch White PVCu windows in a big way. Even if it is something as subtle as White wood grain, I am seeing a clear trend from home owners who are looking to ditch the shiny White look when replacing their windows and doors.

One of the biggest comments I get is that shiny White looks cheap. And I agree. You look at a nice cream wood grained frame and put it next to a shiny White one, I know which one will look better.

Which will lead to a rise in the popularity of…

…colours and wood grains

In the next decade, home owners will still want PVCu windows and doors, with all the benefits they bring. But they will want them to look as close to timber as possible. This is where wood grain finishes and colour is going to really play a massive part in the window industry.

We’re coming full circle as an industry right now. Combining modern materials with traditional aesthetics. It’s something the home owner likes and there has been a clear and powerful trend towards these types of products.

There is going to be huge opportunities for companies like Renolit and Kolorseal. Renolit because their foil wood grain products are going to become increasingly popular from syscos and fabricators as they seek to meet rising demand. Kolorseal and other sprayers because there is going to be rising demand from home owners for bespoke colours and finishes that aren’t stocked in foil.

Triple glazing

I don’t expect this to take off in the next ten years. In fact I think there is a real chance that it could fall away over the next decade. I will expand on this idea in a future post, but I wouldn’t put any of my eggs in this basket. There’s little demand, double glazing only continues to get better, and the UK simply does not have the climate to warrant a product like triple glazing right now.

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Vertical sliders

Although moving to the future, traditionally old fashioned products I believe are going to increase in their popularity, one of which being vertical sliders. There has been a distinct rise in the number of vertical sliders sold, and the number of installers choosing to sell them. As home owners look for a mix of modern low maintenance and traditional looks, this is where companies like Masterframe and Roseview should be looking to cash in on this growing trend.

Lots more ali

Not only on the bi-fold front, but windows too, and in the residential sector. Even in just the last few years, the rise in residential aluminium has been stark. Driven by home owners who would perhaps never consider PVCu as their first material of choice, 2017 residential aluminium is a world away from the primer grey garbage from just a couple of decades ago.

In ten years time, I believe that aluminium windows, in both grained and coloured, will have eaten a big chunk into the dominance of PVCu in the residential market. It probably doesn’t look like it right now. But, how many of us thought ten years ago that we’d be selling aluminium windows into people’s home by 2017? Not many I’d wager.

The industry will be a lot smaller, and a lot bigger

The sector has a lot more room to consolidate the way I see it. As demand for different products changes, the suppliers that make the products that are falling out of fashion will probably go by the wayside if they choose not to adapt and stick with what they know. This is where the market will shrink.

The super-groups we have now however will get bigger. As certain suppliers struggle to keep up with the pace of change, they will be snapped up by those with bigger cash piles, or those who can afford to borrow to buy. Those groups will become super-sized, and will contain within their portfolios a range of companies and products which give them access to all sorts of areas within the market. There will be questions about competition, the size of these groups and if restricts competition and ultimately choice for installers and home owners in the market place.

In ten years time, the industry I believe is going to be much more varied in product choice in the residential market, run by companies of a size we have yet to see in our industry right now. PVCu won’t be as dominant as we see it now, but it will be gushing with choice driven by home owner demand for products that look more traditional. Aluminium will eat into PVCu market share, and most installers will be selling it. Smooth White PVCu is going to fall by the wayside, with suppliers able to fill those foiled and colour needs set to expand exponentially as the years roll on.

These are just my predictions, but if you can, it might be a good idea to engineer your business into one which can take advantage of the trends that we’re already seeing emerge.

What are your thoughts? What will our industry look like in ten years time? All your comments and ideas are welcome via the comments section below.

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