As for Milgard, the company is focusing on two key areas: energy efficiency and material innovations, says Scott Morgan, vice president of sales and marketing. “Our 3D and 3D Max Energy Packages continue to gain traction with window dealers and homeowners alike as they look for easier ways to choose the best-performing windows for their specific application. We’ve added triple glazing as an option on our vinyl Tuscany Series replacement line, and our fiberglass Ultra and WoodClad Series windows and patio doors, creating a clear energy performance advantage for homeowners.
“Right now, frame material innovations in the industry are focusing on fiberglass as the perfect working material for frames. Milgard was very early to recognize the benefits fiberglass offers, and as a result we pultrude our own fiberglass in-house to control quality. We continue to invest in our Ultra Series and WoodClad Series fiberglass windows.”
We Want it all — Now
“Homeowners are emphasizing energy efficiency, but they also want as many options as they can possibly choose from when picking a window,” Premeau says. This means manufacturers are constantly updating and adding to their glass, configuration and size options as well as interior and exterior finishes, hardware styles and finishes, and other special features.
“People want to set their home apart from others in the neighborhood, so they’re accenting their replacement windows with accessories like grilles, blinds, shades or decorative panels between glass and decorative hardware to coordinate with faucets, fixtures and other items in the home,” Harkema says.
Pella offers blinds between the glass for vinyl sliding patio doors and entry doors. Pella also has expanded its EnduraClad aluminum-clad exterior color options to include distinct and varying shades like cranberry and vanilla cream.
“Many homeowners opt for natural shades and lighter tones, but more and more people are seeking to express their personal sense of color with a bold contrast of colors on the exterior of their windows and doors,” Pella’s Harkema says.
Kolbe also has introduced a new color palette for its interior finishes, and in the interest of meeting virtually any consumer demand in this arena, the manufacturer offers the ability to match nearly any interior finish. Kolbe also developed and introduced a square glazing bead and divided light bar profile. “These Craftsman- or Mission-style options give more freedom for homeowners to design their windows to match their home’s themes or styles,” Premeau says.
People also want their windows to be easy to use and maintain. “This arises from the universal design trend,” Griffin says. “People want to stay in their homes a lot longer, so they want windows that not only last, but are easy to clean and continue to operate smoothly for years and years.” Marvin’s Ultimate Casement window now features a “wash mode” that allows the unit to swivel 140 degrees so owners can wash the outside of the window from inside the house. It is also available in dramatically large sizes.
The immediate future for windows looks healthy, according to many manufacturers. Homeowners will always aspire to build, remodel or upgrade their living spaces, even in a down economy as many people will then spend more time in their homes. “Since windows are seen and enjoyed both inside and outside the home and can substantially enhance both its enjoyment and value, we see the installation of energy-efficient windows remaining a top remodeling project choice,” Harkema says.
And the key to window demand — even before this recession — seems to be energy efficiency. Manufacturers have been and plan to continue upgrading the energy performance of their windows. “Energy efficiency will continue to be a driving force in the window industry in the coming years,” Premeau says. “Homeowners will continue to request larger units that perform at a high level, especially in the high-end market.”
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