Yesterday I touched upon the idea that triple glazing could be a product that is at risk of dying out in the coming decade. It formed part of a post where I explored what the industry might look like in the next ten years. You can catch up on that post here.
But I do genuinely believe that unless something drastic changes soon, triple glazing might well be resigned to the history books as one of those products which was a good idea, but lacklustre in the real world.
This is how I think it could go down.
Continued weak demand
I can count on one hand the number of proper triple glazed windows we have sold so far this year. And the ones we did sell were to an existing customer that already had triple glazing and was simply completing the rest of his house in the same product. So not a new customer.
In fact the demand at our place for triple glazing has been been outstripped by demand for much more niche products such as door canopies and replacement sealed units. From my conversations during the course of the year with fabricators and installers, it doesn’t sound like triple glazing is having a booming 2017.
Moreover, I saw very little in the way of triple glazing at this year’s FIT Show in May. Much of the focus from exhibitors was demonstrating their U-Values and weather performance, as well as aesthetic USPs. For me a clear sign that much of the industry doesn’t see a future in triple glazing. At least not for a while.
I just cannot see a reason coming up on the horizon that is going to cause a spike in demand from home owners for triple glazing. I would say that we have sold more of Pilkington’s Optiphon noise reduction glass in 2017 than triple glazing.
We don’t have the climate. Nowhere close. Yes it gets cold, and yes it gets colder up in Scotland. But we’re not Scandinavian or Russian levels of cold. Climates that require far more than double glazing. Unless we have a mini inc-age in the next decade, the weather isn’t going to give triple glazing a boost.
Although weak demand will create problems for the product, ultimately it won’t be the thing that kills it off.
Suppliers pulling the plug
The industry is only going to become more and more diverse as time goes on. Against what is already a very complicated back drop right now, I believe it is possible that some suppliers may choose to ditch their triple glazing option altogether. If they continue to see weak demand from their installers, and it costs them more to carry stock, parts and equipment than the sales coming in, we could see some manufacturers killing off the option totally.
It seems hard to believe doesn’t it. If you speak to most fabricators right now, I bet most will tell you that they can make some sort of triple glazed option. It may not be a 44mm unit option, as it should be, but a triple glazed window option nonetheless. And we would expect that. Triple glazing was really only pushed to home owners with some degree of fanfare a few years ago. We even allowed ourselves to think that there was a genuine chance that it could actually take off.
The big sign that the industry was going to market triple glazing to home owners properly when we saw the likes of Everest and Anglian advertise triple glazing on their TV ad slots. Often touting offers with “free” upgrades to triple glazing. They were fairly regular even just a couple of years ago. Back to the present day however, and this is very much not the case. All mentions of triple glazing have been dropped by companies who are doing the advertising to home owners. This for me is a clear sign that the promised upward trend of sales for triple glazing never came, and that companies like Everest and Anglian don’t see any value in marketing the product to home owners any longer.
I would also look towards the small and medium sized fabricators for signs that triple glazing could be exiting our industry for the time being. Smaller fabricators don’t always have the capacity to stock every single option they would like. In a diverse market some will have to make hard choices about what they can and cannot offer to their installers. There may come a point in a few years time where they have to decide which products to drop, in favour of expanding the offerings of products they are selling well. I think that triple glazing will be on the drop list.
Larger fabricators could probably afford to hang on to the option of supplying triple glazing, if only for the few orders they get. The smaller ones though may well decide to drop it and excel in other areas.
Existing products getting better
The other issue triple glazing has is double glazing continues to make great strides when it comes to energy efficiency, noise reduction, aesthetics and lead times.
I have already mentioned Pilks’ Optiphon noise reduction glass. For customers who are looking to reduce their noise problems, we have sold quite a lot of that so far. And this is the point. The existing crop of products at our disposal more than meets the requirements and demands of UK home owners right now. Their priorities lie with the design of the product, rather than how many panes of glass their units have, in my experience at least. There is very little reason to consider triple glazing at this juncture, and I don’t see many other reasons coming up in the years ahead.
This is why I believe triple glazing will die off in ten years time. Of course I could be wrong and sales of the product could really turn around. Time will tell.
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