Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Colour is everywhere and today’s window market is no exception. For evidence, look at any trade journal or even this article.
No matter which sector you are in, or which materials your windows are manufactured from, there is a rising demand for colour finishes. But where is the demand coming from? There are as many answers as colours but colour options are approaching 10 to 15% of the market.
Three key factors in the growth include; Fabricators, in a tight market are targeting market share growth between window construction materials. uPVC fabricators in particular have looked to imitate competitors; here you see for example the rise in dark grey shades (E.g. Anthracite RAL 7016) as both uPVC and timber look to match powder coated metal frames used in social housing and commercial sectors. You also see the rise of embossed foil finishes where uPVC looks to match the painted surface finishes of timber window colours and lighter colour foiled wood grains to imitate premium wood grains such as Irish Oak.
Consumers have also changed, today they are looking to differentiate, increase kerb appeal or add value to properties. They are either replacing first generation double glazing, selecting from a menu of new build colour swatches presented by the marketing teams from house builders or interestingly investing for the first time as a new installation as government figures suggest that around 24% of the UK housing stock is yet to install any double glazing!
Consumers today are less willing to see “cheap” looking plastic components against premium linear foiled profiles. Small components stand out against the foils. With an average customer parting with over £10,000 for a house of new windows or a conservatory, the final aesthetic and finish is becoming increasingly important. The market is aligning with other colour trends. We can see the decline of dark woods (Mahogany / Rose wood) replaced with lighter (Golden Oak / Irish oak). This follows trends elsewhere in for example the domestic furniture market and highlighted in publications such as the Renolit’s colour road1 which reflect and forecast changes in consumer tastes. With over 60 finishes2 used in the window and conservatory markets in solid colours and wood grain’s this presents its own challenges for vacuum foiling companies.
The customers who have the money to spend in the current market will and are paying premium prices to have all the finishing touches closely matched. Albeit with a slightly glossy finish due to the vacuum foiling process. No longer is it acceptable for example to have a tan trickle vent on a golden oak profile, it needs to be foiled or printed to blend in on the frame.
Technology has also moved on, there is less value to be added by replacing existing IGU’s with today’s more efficient glazing and 70mm profiles, compared to the first installations upgrading single glazed windows and the element of a distress purchase as old timber frames degraded more rapidly.
Window components such as cill joiners, end caps, sash horns and colour matched products such as drain-hole covers and trickle vents are affected. On conservatories it is prominent components such finials and caps with matching finishes that add value and convert orders with end users. Try it…. take a Glazpart Irish oak printed trickle vent and your standard colour vent option and show a potential customer and see the reaction… anecdotally even with the price differential (added value) it also increases your potential of converting a sale.
There are however, technical limits to what can be achieved even with these components, so it is crucial to work with an expert vacuum foiling company at the design stage.
Some issues to offer the finishes you want in the long term can be overcome with printing technology but once you have tooled up, it may be too late or too expensive to offer colour foiled or printed options.
Dean Bradley is Sales and Marketing Manager for Glazpart Limited, suppliers of vacuum foiling, aqua printing and plastic spraying services to the window market and is a designer and manufacturer of trickle vents and window system components.
1 Link to the Renolit colour road http://www.renolit.com/ corporate/en/innovations/ colour-road/
2 To see a comprehensive range of colour options available down load the tricklevent brochure from www.glazpart.com/ products