The homebuilding industry may still be struggling, but that’s not keeping manufacturers from moving forward with new product releases. Residential Design + Build caught up with a number of leading window makers in the days following this year’s International Builders’ Show to see what trends drive their product-development efforts.
Not surprisingly, energy efficiency is at the top of the list of consumer demands when it comes to window purchases. Beyond this basic requirement, design flexibility and attention to detail remain as important as ever. Continue reading to learn more about window trends and products.
Andersen Windows and Doors
Functionality concerns: “We find that customers want ease. They want energy efficiency, long-term performance, a wealth of design options to choose from and easy operation, with convenience features like low maintenance built in,” says Stacy Einck-Eckberg, brand public relations project manager, Andersen Windows and Doors.
Design drivers: “In the higher-end market, we continue to see a focus on options that afford the greatest flexibility in design, with an emphasis on both energy efficiency and sustainable design in materials and manufacturing practices,” Einck-Eckberg says.
Product-design response: “We recently introduced the Andersen Exterior Trim system for our A-Series, Andersen 400 and Andersen 200 Series,” she says. “It cuts trim installation for an average house to about one-half day. It’s made with Fibrex composite material that’s factory-finished and virtually maintenance free, and contains 40 percent preconsumer reclaimed wood fiber, by weight.”
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Kolbe Windows and Doors
Functionality concerns: “The number-one area of emphasis is energy efficiency. Homeowners are more knowledgeable and they are asking more questions about high-performance glass options, including triple-pane glass. Depending on the region, other performance aspects also carry great importance, such as hurricane-impact resistance in coastal regions,” says Lance Premeau, market and product analyst, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork.
Design drivers: “Personalized enhancements and customization are essential to the higher-end market; [these] homeowners crave the ability to individualize their windows. Expanding environmental choices also are important, such as FSC-certified wood species,” Premeau says.
Product-design response: “In 2010, Kolbe expanded its selection of interior wood species to include Lamboo, an engineered, laminated veneer bamboo, manufactured from four of the strongest, fastest-growing and sustainable species,” Premeau says. “And Kolbe’s K-Force impact products are constructed without unsightly brackets, visible rods or extra locks [for the] highest performance against the elements.”
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Functionality concerns: “The demand for products that are energy efficient and sustainable is definitely growing. Many of the code requirements, rebate/incentive programs and green-building programs have caused greater demand for improved product design. Consumers also want products that have longer lifecycles to minimize our footprint on the environment,” says Jon Sawatzky, product and brand manager, Loewen.
Design drivers: “We’re witnessing strong polar growth in both the traditional and modern/contemporary markets. Customers in the traditional segment are looking for products that provide historically correct details without sacrificing performance. Customers pursuing modern projects are looking for clean lines and minimal profiles. In both cases, there is a general trend toward products that are highly customized,” Sawatzky says.
Product-design response: “Our market segment is focused primarily on the higher end, and to remain competitive, it’s crucial we offer a broad product range,” Sawatzky says. “We’re dedicating more resources to product development and releasing improved products, such as our new double hung. Many of our standard features are optional for other companies.”
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