I’ve played window historian on this blog in the past, tracking specifically the way that vinyl has ascended over the decades from a mistrusted bargain material to the undisputed market leader. Why the shift? There have been material improvements, of course. Standards and certifications helped, too. But above all, the general public came to trust vinyl. And consumers have since reaped the benefits that high-performance vinyl framing can provide.
Trust—that was something I had in mind when I was walking the 2020 International Builders’ Show floor in Las Vegas last month. Some of the trends in the window world I noted are already well-established, including darker, bolder colors and large-format glass for residences. Others were newer: I noticed a few big names highlighting composite framing options at their booths, combining the performance of vinyl or fiberglass with a warmer aesthetic delivered by wood (or wood-alternative) encapsulates.
The look and feel of wooden windows have always been qualities that vinyl-only frames haven’t captured, despite the benefits over traditional wood. New composite windows and doors can combine the best of both worlds. And, while composite or wood-alternative framing isn’t radically new, seeing a big push around some new composite window and door options from industry heavy-hitters signals to me a couple of things.
The first is optimism. Window + Door’s annual Industry Pulse showed that 60 percent of those polled expect profits to increase moderately this year, and 21 percent expect them to increase greatly. That’s a big majority of the industry expecting growth in 2020, and with that kind of confidence comes opportunity to put something new out there. Indeed, the Pulse shows that 74 percent of respondents plan to market new products this year.
The second is trust. Forty years ago, you probably wouldn’t have had buyers willing to try something new and different when vinyl windows were regularly cracking and yellowing not long after installation. But modern consumers are more aware of the numerous window and door options available to them, and they’ve witnessed the proven performance of vinyl and its variants. I think they’ve come to trust that new products are going to deliver on their wants and needs.
This is a good place for our industry to be. Consumer trust is what it takes for a new product to succeed. They must believe in our ability to meet their needs from a performance perspective, and to fit their aesthetic tastes inside their homes. It’s good to see that window and door manufacturers have recognized this opportunity with new options for consumers.