It’s not as if anyone is denying that the aluminium market is the part of the fenestration sector with the most energy and drive at the moment. It’s a well established narrative across the sector, including PVCu, which is beginning a gradual decline (which we’ll see in a moment).

The recently released WindowBASE and Tommy Trinder market report, established via data taken from the Tommy Trinder platform, confirms that the aluminium market is very much in a growth phase right now, with the best chunk of the opportunities laying in this part of the market.

Number of installers doubled

Could this be a fenestration equivalent to a gold rush? Maybe.

This new report shows that the number of installers selling aluminium has risen from just 27.7 in 2006 to 63.5% in 2023. That its more than a two-fold rise in 17 years and that figure is set to rise further.

In comparison, in those same years, the number of installers selling PVCu has gone from 86.8% in 2006 to 82.5% in 2023. This isn’t as dramatic a drop compared to the meteoric rise in the aluminium part of the market, but it is indicative of the momentum swing between the materials.

But it is in the fabrication part of the market where the changes are more stark. In 2006 51% of fabricators sold PVCu. That fell to just 36% in 2023. That is a 15% drop in 17 years.

As we have seen in the last couple of years, as market conditions have changed dramatically to the downside, the slowdown has taken out a number of suppliers across the supply chain, with the PVCu part of the market being hit hard. Fabricators who only produced a small number of frames per week, as well as those heavily indebted and had not foreseen the slowdown have been caught short. The market conditions are hard, but as we are seeing, there are opportunities elsewhere.

This report shows that in 2006 only 11.4% of fabricators produced aluminium. In 2003 that rose sharply to 26.5%. That rise mirrors the decline in the PVCu side of the market and is a clear demonstration of where the market thinks the best chances of success are at the moment.

What is perhaps most revealing to me is the total market share aluminium now has. According to the WindowBASE and Tommy Trinder report, aluminium windows, bi-folds and sliders make up 28% of the entire market. Given that Tommy Trinder deals mainly with residential installers we can ascertain that this pertains to the residential market only. Still, for aluminium to now represent more than a quarter of the market, and likely growth in the coming few years taking it beyond a third, this is a very solid base from which to expand that momentum.

Access the full market report here:

Bi-folds vs sliders

As aluminium began it’s rise in popularity, bi-folding doors were the must-have item. Homeowners were latching on to the idea of having a safe and solid product that was able to open up more of their home to the outdoors. As a result, sales went through the roof and have remained solid ever since.

However, we have witnessed a strong comeback from the sliding door in recent years, as homeowners switch to preferring bigger glazing and minimal frames, being able to take advantage of letting more light into their homes and making the most of any views they might have of their garden and beyond.

This latest report shows that the gap between sales of bi-folds and sliders getting very close, with a 54%/46% split in favour of bi-folding doors. That is only a very narrow margin and had data been available from around a decade ago I think we would have been looking at a much larger difference.

From my own personal experience I can vouch for these figures. Whilst we sell a lot of aluminium bi-folds at our place, we are seeing continued rising demand for slimline aluminium sliding doors. Especially from those building extensions or undertaking larger renovations. People are wanting to make the most of their views and you can span much bigger sash sizes with sliders than bi-folds. I expect that what little gap is left will close further over the next few years.

The WindowBASE/Tommy Trinder market report reveals some interesting trends and I will be digging further through the data and explore some of the more major points it brings up.

Click here to access the full report:

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