Demand continues to rise for solid colours and rich woodgrains in PVCu windows and doors including composites, explains Mark Lofthouse, managing director of 3D Laminates. But how can the market further evolve?
The once dominating if not market saturated, standard white PVCu casement window isn’t of course obsolete, but is being challenged not only by the new genre
of flush casement windows, but by new solid colours and woodgrains. This is an important trend that will further extend the lifecycle of the £4.2 billion window, door and conservatory sector, based on installed values (source: Palmer Market Research).
In Europe it’s not uncommon to see the major extrusion companies such as Deceuninck, Kömmerling, Rehau and VEKA offering over 40 different foiled finishes, which of course is being driven by demand. But in the UK at present most systems companies will offer around 10-12 different foiled finishes from stock, which when you consider the implications for reverse butt welding, different glazing bead options and ancillaries and trims, requires considerable warehousing space and foiling capacity. Subsequently, the same premise applies to fabricators who are now also increasingly adopting second systems and other revenue streams such as composite doors.
The number of woodgrain options has over the last two decades increased significantly and we’re no longer left with the dated original mahogany and antique pine designs, but can now boast well over a dozen different, yet life like woodgrain foils. With the on trend adoption again of mechanically jointed windows, with these new foils a more realistic timber effect window can be achieved and consumers are already showing a greater propensity to spend more for a better and more emotively rewarding product.
Rosewood has taken over from mahogany in the main, while the latest Irish Oak and English Oak foils are appealing to consumers who may well be 2nd time purchasers of replacement windows. Nut Tree or Mocha is a newly adopted option, along with walnut, while the latest AnTeak or silvered oak offers a striking and distinctive premium finish.
Colours are not just limited to the solid red, green and blue, but also include the period inspired Chartwell Green, agate/Painswick Grey and cream. Anthracite grey is already widely adopted not only in contemporary PVCu windows, but also by the strong performing composite door sector and indeed the patio door sector, which has experienced a return to growth in 2015.
The composite door sector has exploded to life in the last five years and the sales of our unique CoolSkin® door skins fully support this statement, as we enjoy a dominating market share, for the solid core segment that’s controlled by brands such as Endurance® Doors and Solidor. Our PVCu CoolSkin® sheets are bonded to the exterior of these composite doors and are designed to perfectly match the foils used on the PVCu door profiles and importantly, are engineered to last just as long, arguably in excess of 20 years.
With these innovative composite door sector players offering 15-20 different door colours and woodgrains inside and out, there’s considerable opportunity for consumers to create a very individual front door. With companies across the sector adopting various types of online door builders there’s less of a risk in choosing something bold, when it can be so accurately visualised online by mobile, tablet or desktop device.
If a consumer wants an Irish Oak frame inside and out, with an exterior Chartwell Green face and an internal cream face then it can be readily manufactured within 7-10 days. The opportunities for mixing and matching frame and door combinations is huge and inspired by the timber entrance door segment, where door frames are often painted white or stained, yet the door itself can be stained, varnish or painted in a huge range of colours.
Shorter runs of foiled profiles can also be readily achieved across the industry or indeed by external foil laminating specialists now. At the same time, we can also offer new CoolSkin® PVCu foiled finishes on far shorter runs than was achievable just five years ago. So the opportunities for a more exclusive, boutique type approach to foiled finishes are now a reality not just in PVCu window frames, but now in complementing composite doors.
The UK window and door sector is following the trends and opportunities seen in the mainland European markets in terms of new solid colour and rich woodgrain foils. There are considerable opportunities yet for the composite door market and even for the adoption of new foils on a micro scale, for those eager companies to offer a genuine USP. In all the market for PVCu foils has never been so dynamic and engaging.