We’re approaching the end of 2021—and it’s the time of the year where I typically start putting my ear to the ground for trends that might shape the year ahead.
There are a few things we’re all expecting. Supply chain challenges will certainly continue. The upcoming implementation of Energy Star Version 7.0 will see window and door manufacturers making strides toward hitting unprecedented energy efficiency requirements. All the while, we need to keep up with ever-changing customer demands in style and aesthetics.
That last bit brings me back to a familiar topic: color. Vinyl windows in striking new colors are in increasing demand as consumers are looking to bring unique upgrades to their home. Black remains one of the more popular alternatives to plain white, but the rainbow of demand (so to speak) is growing. I saw some interesting samples at September’s GlassBuild America show, including a brick-red option developed by one of my customers, and I think it’s an indicator of some of the boundary pushing we’re going to start seeing in the color space.
Color and Performance: Meeting the Challenge
For fabricators, developing new color options to meet customers’ new aesthetic demands might sound like just another layer of complexity. But with the right technology, it doesn’t have to be.
Consider laminate technology, one of the more common ways residential window makers can add color to their frames. It can be a good option and offer enhanced durability and aesthetic benefits versus older methods like painting. But laminating can prove expensive, especially considering the cost of freight today. Shipping additional materials to your plant can drive up costs and become another logistical hurdle.
Color co-extrusion, on the other hand, is a technology that can eliminate the need for any additional logistical considerations; color comes as an integral part of your profiles from a single supplier. It can also eliminate the extra step of applying laminate on your shop floor, saving you time and labor.
Then there’s performance and long-term durability to think about. Color co-extrusion can be produced with the high-performance vinyl systems, contributing to your completed units’ ability to meet new standards like Energy Star 7.0. According to a recent article about how window and door fabricators can meet those standards, research shows that “vinyl is proving to be the best solution from an energy efficiency point of view, when compared to similar lumber (timber) and aluminum offerings. From an environmental perspective, vinyl can also be recycled up to eight times. With a typical life span of 25 years, that equates to a 200-year product life cycle.” Color co-extrusion’s extreme durability also contributes to extended use with no need for maintenance or replacement.
These are some of the trends forward-thinking fabricators need to be considering as we work to meet a range of converging demands into the new year and beyond. The right technologies are at hand to do it—it’s a matter of putting them together in a way that makes sense for your business.