The hottest topic in remodeling continues to be “green” building. It is the umbrella term covering durability, energy efficiency, impact-resistant products and recyclable materials. Vinyl windows have gained even more market share, but other window materials are available to cater to individual tastes and needs. And with bigger windows maintaining popularity with consumers, privacy and security are more important than ever.
On top of offering an enormous array of products with innumerable styles and seemingly limitless options, manufacturers are also stepping in with resources targeting their entire customer chain. One-stop shopping, easy instructions and warranty information, and custom products designed for specific openings combine with elaborate training courses and educational programs to respond to the needs of the entire channel.
The Hottest Shade of Green
Today, vinyl windows are enormously popular due, in large part, to the intrinsic, environmentally friendly values of the material. Vinyl is durable and conducts hot and cold temperatures well, and any scraps in the manufacturing process can be immediately reused.
“Vinyl manufacturers were green before the word green came along,” says Chris Reilly, director of marketing communications and replacement programs for Atrium Industries. “Green summarizes exactly what we’ve been doing for years as it represents energy efficiency and protecting the environment.”
Atrium recently launched its new “good”, “better” and “best” lines of vinyl replacement windows with Aspirations, Dynasty and Heirloom, respectively. These new windows promise styles and designs to meet a variety of window replacement needs. Standard features include double-pane (3/4-in.) glass with warm-edge spacer for optimum thermal performance, extruded, integral vinyl interlock and screens with integral lift rail.
And it looks as though vinyl will keep growing in popularity. As Steve Pickins, brand manager for Visions Windows and Doors, points out, “Vinyl windows are a major trend, as they comprise over half of the market today. This trend will continue as vinyl windows take more market share overall — and in the remodeling market.”
The Visions 4000 is Visions Windows and Doors’ latest vinyl offering which includes state-of-the-art engineering and an accurate wood window profile. The 4000 line provides a strong internal structure with a thick sash made up of multiple chambers and complex webbing. The chambers provide insulating pockets that minimize heat and cold transference through the window, and fusion-welded corners further enhance the products’ structural integrity. The extruded frame is comprised of uPVC vinyl with acrylic modifiers, and stabilizers strengthen and protect against color fading.
Weather Shield’s ProShield product line recently received the first-ever third-party certification for recycled material content for windows by Scientific Certification Systems. The windows feature natural wood on the inside and low-maintenance vinyl on the outside. The recycled content used in the vinyl exteriors and the insulated glass of ProShield products is now certified to comprise at least 9 percent of the entire unit by weight.
For a more unconventional look, Hy-Lite recently introduced Max-Lite Custom Sized acrylic block windows in a variety of styles, sizes and shapes including Fixed, RoundTop ArchTop and Half Round windows. These new windows can be manufactured in 1/4-in. increments to fit virtually any rough opening size required. The Contractor Series of the windows offers the same 1/4-in. size selection in Fixed, Casement, Awning and Hopper styles. For builders and remodelers looking to add a decorative glass window to a project but not willing to sacrifice ventilation, Hy-Lite’s new Operable Hy-Lite Decorative Glass Windows feature a heavy-duty hinge and latch hardware that allows both casement and awning windows to open easily in the home for ventilation. Operable windows come in the Craftsman and Spring Flower patterns and can be ordered with nickel or black caming.
“Ever-toughening building codes around the country related to energy efficiency and hurricane protection are driving an increase in popularity for upgrades such as laminated insulating glass, insulating glass, and Low-E glass,” explains Dave Olmstead, senior public affairs and code compliance officer for PGT Industries.
PGT WinGuard Impact-Resistant Windows and Doors combine heavy-duty aluminum frames with impact-resistant glass created using a silicone glazing process that keeps the glass from breaking away from the frame. The glass may crack on impact, but the interlayer keeps the glass intact, preventing destructive wind from entering the home.
Kolbe’s Windquest Series of vinyl windows and patio doors promise coastal customers quiet, comfortable interiors and secure, durable, energy-efficient exteriors. The Windquest Series includes casement, awning, sliding and single-hung windows, and sliding doors in a full range of sizes, shapes and configurations. Part of Kolbe’s K-Force impact certified products, have been tested according to Miami-Dade County HVHZ protocol.
Silver Line’s Weather Stopper is a complete window system, consisting of a series of specially designed, interrelated components to endure the elements and protect the home. Its laminated safety glass features a 0.090-in. polyvinyl butyral (PVB) inner layer and features a specially designed plastic inner layer for both safety and security. When struck, the interlayer remains intact, providing valuable protection, while at the same time preventing damage from wind and rain.
Jeff Kibler, brand manager for Peachtree Doors and Windows, explains, “Better glazing systems are helping homeowners reduce their homes’ air conditioning and heating loads. The improved U values and Solar Heat Coefficient numbers are the result of improved spacer systems, Low-E2 coatings and combinations of these components in double and triple insulated windows, and complete glazing systems.”
Peachtree’s Zo-e-shield glazing systems feature EasyCare coating, Real Warm Edge spacer systems, multiple layers of silver coating and inert gas-filled air spaces. A transparent, permanent glass coating allows windows with EasyCare technology to repel dirt and reduce water spots. Low-conductive materials construct Real Warm Edge spacers to serve as an insulating barrier against heat gain or loss and condensation.
Kibler adds, “Homeowners are wanting bigger and better views and want to bring the outside in. They’re accomplishing that with more and bigger windows and patio doors.” And with these grand openings comes the need for innovations in insect screens.
Andersen Windows developed the TruScene insect screen with a virtually invisible, stainless steel screen material that provides clear views and great airflow with less visibility from outside the home. With over 50 percent more clarity than standard Andersen aluminum insect screens, the TruScene insect screen is made with a micro-fine stainless steel mesh that is one-third the diameter of conventional screen wire to let more fresh air and sunlight in, while protecting against insects. The new screens are available in colors and finishes including white, stone or unfinished pine for awning and casement windows; and white, sandtone, Terratone and forest green for double-hung and gliding windows.
Jeld-Wen recently introduced Phantom Screens Technology into the frames of their Custom Wood window line. These factory-installed Phantom retractable screens are available on the company’s custom wood casement, double-hung and awning windows. The Phantom screens retract out of sight when not in use and, when an insect screen is needed, they easily slide into place on a built-in track. The screens feature a matching wood cover for the screen and a wood handle that blends seamlessly with the window frame.
Marvin Windows and Doors expanded its standard offerings with seven new clad casings and four news subsills that are factory-applied and highly customized to their customers’ particular tastes. With historic profiles and a durable Kynar finish that looks pristine but requires virtually no maintenance, homeowners can choose from nine clad casing profiles and six subsills in 19 clad colors. The new clad casings and subsills feature extruded aluminum and a Flurospar finish, which consists of 70 percent Kynar resin. These qualities make the new clad casing and subsills more resistant to scratches, chalking and fading due to UV light.
According to Cindy Bremer, director of marketing for Kolbe Windows & Doors, “installation ease and correct sizing” are two of the biggest issues facing remodelers. She adds that “Kolbe is designing its products for easy installation.”
Kolbe’s Ultra Pocket double- hung all-in-one replacement window can be installed without removing existing trim and framework. The windows can be installed from either the interior or exterior. Once the old sash is removed, the replacement unit is inserted into the opening and secured. The window’s 3 1/4-inch pocket jamb depth fits most standard applications. The exterior frame and sash are made of a durable, extruded aluminum and coated with a 70 percent fluoropolymer finish in a broad palette of colors. Interiors may be requested with pre-finishing and specified in a variety of wood species.
Steve Pickens of Visions believes that “the two biggest issues facing remodelers are product quality and on-time delivery of complete window and door packages. They want quality products to put into the opening and they’re looking to get them complete all in one shipment. Price is sometimes a concern; however, price is irrelevant if a product doesn’t perform or is of poor quality.”
The Replacement Window with Applied Brickmould from Crestline Windows & Doors is designed for applications that require a full replacement window, frame and exterior trim. With this kit, remodelers should expect a much quicker install time as there is no need to insert siding into a j-channel or apply brickmould after window installation. Damage to interior trim is minimized because window removal and installation are both done from the outside. Additionally, the windows are custom-sized to a home’s exact measurements. The applied brickmould can be supplemented with additional finish trim that easily inserts into the brickmould accessory groove.
As Maureen Faccia, director of marketing for Milgard Manufacturing, Inc., explains, “Remodelers are looking for turnkey solutions to replace old worn wood windows with low-maintenance and energy-efficient alternatives.” The company’s Tuscany window series is tailor-made for this demand.
Designed for replacement and remodeling applications, Milgard’s Tuscany Series offers design features that consumers want in a replacement window. The windows feature simulated divided lites and architectural detailing on the interior and exterior. Tuscany comes with Milgard’s full lifetime warranty and includes glass breakage. Tuscany windows include Milgard’s SmartTouch lock, which permits effortless opening, closing, locking and unlocking with one-touch operation.
Jeld-Wen’s new Premium Wood Double-Hung Pocket Windows are replacement windows designed for installation into existing window frames, regardless of the brand of the original window. The impact to the exterior of the home is minimal making it ideal for window replacements with brick or stucco exteriors. Because the replacement windows fit into existing openings, the process is simpler, quicker and less damaging to a home’s structure.
A Well-Rounded Education
From the sales force to the remodeler to the end user, education is key in installation and usage in order to eliminate callbacks, safety issues and warranty problems. And proper education on features and benefits can lead to upgrades and higher price points.
Peachtree’s Jeff Kibler says, “Remodelers have to spend time educating their customers about all the features and benefits available with windows — and many other building products. The amount of information, new products and latest technology for them to know can be overwhelming. Windows alone have hundreds of available options that improve aesthetics, operation, energy efficiency and maintenance. Explaining these benefits in ways that encourage homeowners to invest a bit more in their windows and doors, can be difficult but can help improve a remodeler’s margins. Windows are more than a way to fill a hole — they are an important part of a home’s thermal envelope and interior design.”
“Having the right crews and protecting against liabilities are top priorities,” says Atrium’s Chris Reilly. “If there are issues after installation, someone is to blame. Our Installation Masters training ensures our customers are communicating to their customers the proper way to install our windows and to make sure the homeowner doesn’t have problems down the road.”
Simonton’s long-standing successful Nitpickers Club relationship-marketing program allows the company to enhance their relationship with trade customers, primarily remodelers/contractors. It also allows Simonton to communicate directly with the contractors and builders who work directly with their products. The program includes a quarterly Nitpickers Newsletter, as well as other materials. The program has proven to be an effective way to drive sales and modify purchasing behavior. The company has seen that Nitpickers purchase a higher percentage of top-end products and options.
On the consumer side, Atrium is working to ensure the safety of children, specifically in regard to window screens and open windows. Recognizing potential injuries, Atrium developed the “Kids Can’t Fly” campaign in an effort to eliminate safety issues. Reilly explains, “We’re spending energy on promoting screen safety and window safety. We have a responsibility to make sure our products are being used efficiently so we must communicate the appropriate safety measures.”
Window trends are about giving the people what they want. Green products, all-in-one kits and manufacturer support make this the best time to replace what’s rotten.