Early last month, I and several other members from the Quanex team attended the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, both for some good weather and to get a sense for how the industry is feeling at the outset of a new year.
My takeaway: Many building and construction professionals are abuzz right now, and not without reason. The U.S. economy is healthy, and manufacturers around our industry have invested in their operations over the past few years. Millennial demand for housing grows ever stronger, despite housing inventory remaining at historic lows. I think the sense among many in our industry is that we’re poised for a breakout. All of this is promising news for the window and door industry.
Beyond the health in the market overall, there are a handful of trends I’ll be on the lookout for throughout the rest of the year:
Color options for vinyl windows have been a real differentiator among window and door manufacturers. Vinyl is now a mature material choice and, whether it’s in the form of paint, laminates or co-extrusions, color continues to proliferate. Now, even at the lower ends of the market, color is making the difference. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It behooves any manufacturer looking to push their competitive advantage to explore the options here if you haven’t already.
Bigger and bolder
Window & Door has reported on the ongoing trend toward indoor/outdoor living, contemporary architecture, and the big glass, big windows and big doors that make it all possible. If the conversations I had at IBS 2018 are anything to go by, I don’t see this trend slowing anytime soon. At the top end of the market, builders are looking to go bigger and bolder when it comes to fenestration.
I’ve sensed that tilt and turns, bifolds, and other traditionally European fenestration styles are beginning to gain greater traction. Why? Extremely high air and water performance, versatility and easy maintenance are all attractive to end users at the higher end of the market. I’ll be keeping tabs on the influence of European-style windows and doors on the U.S. market throughout the year.