As we begin to look forward to the end of the year and some well-earned time off over the Christmas period, it is also time to start thinking ahead to 2024 and ponder where the best opportunities might lie for the fenestration sector.

2023 has certainly been a challenging one in many aspects. The economy has taken a marked shift downwards. War has certainly been a big distraction and influence behind the inflation all of us have suffered from. A cost of living crisis combined with an energy crisis compiled the pressure on households.

But within the plethora of crises, and large businesses going bust, there have been opportunities. The obvious being in residential aluminium. There has been a noticeable flock to this part of the sector by both installers and fabricators seeking to take advantage of rising homeowner demand and a suite of products that are genuinely exciting to sell, install and view.

DGB polls

Before I explore the opportunities for 2024 myself, I took to X and Linkedin to ask followers where they thought the best opportunities were going to be in the coming year. The same question produced two different sets of results:

DGB Linkedin poll

With X polls, you don’t get to see who voted for which option. You can however on Linkedin. And it was interesting to see just how many people from the world of PVCu voted to say that aluminium provided the best opportunities for 2024.

Black aluminium internal door

As you can see from the poll results, the split was a lot closer on the X poll than it was on Linkedin. I would surmise that this is down to perhaps a slightly different make up of audience on that platform than on X.

Still, we can ascertain that a large portion of the sector sees a lot of potential in aluminium for 2024. That is a view that chimes with me strongly. In my own personal experience, we have found aluminium to be a very profitable stream of business at our own installations company. We have found that to be driven not only by ourselves promoting those products, but also by homeowners actively seeking them out. Indeed, we have sold more aluminium window and door products this year than in the last three or four years combined.

We have seen a lot of the market flock to aluminium this year, especially at installer and fabricator level, seeking to expand their product offering and increase revenue streams amidst a backdrop of deteriorating market conditions. Those that made the switch at the right time are likely to be seeing very positive results and hopefully a strengthening profit margin.

The fact of the matter is that aluminium provides a suite of products that fabricators, installers and homeowners can get excited about. Whether it’s slimline patio sliders, aluminium steel-look internal doors, lantern roofs or bi-folding doors. These are products which homeowners are actively seeking out and willing to pay a good price for. I see this area only continuing to grow over the next 5-10 years, especially in the residential part of the market, and will begin to take chunks out of the market dominance of PVCu at the higher end of the market.

For me, 2024 is going to be a huge opportunity for the aluminium market and I would urge installers to really buy into the opportunities that it is already providing.

Time for timber

Another niche that I think is going to find big success next year is timber. Especially timber doors. What I am beginning to see is that on larger renovation projects, where a client is specifying aluminium windows, they are now opting to go for a high-end timber door. I know that one particular supplier of aluminium doors is looking at adding a timber option soon, to help cater to that growing market.

Like aluminium, timber window and door products are seeing a surge, thanks to improved quality and a cyclical change in homeowners seeking heritage and classic products, especially into period homes.

Although I don’t think we’re going to see the type of explosion in popularity that aluminium has enjoyed, 2024 will bring new opportunities for installers and fabricators who are actively seeking out higher-end clients looking for products that are sympathetic to their period homes. Timber window and door manufacturers I think will see an uptick in business next year driven by homeowner demand.

Ultimately, you are the creator of your own opportunities. Whether it is in PVCu, aluminium, timber, or a mix of all three, proactive companies will find that business remains good. Those who become stagnant, cut back on marketing activities and hope that things will just get better will find that 2024 could be a very difficult year. Especially with an election seemingly looming towards the back end of the year. Elections provide uncertainty and people tend to hold back more until they know what the outcome is going to be.

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