DWM-logo.gif (6532 bytes)

August  2004

Market Report: Patio Doors
Manufacturers Beware: Decline Expected Until 2007

Patio door manufacturers enjoyed success in 2003 as patio doors sales increased 6 percent from 2002, according to the Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights, performed by Ducker Research. The study, commissioned by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, cited that 4.74 million units were sold in 2003. 

Ducker predicts a stable market with a 1 percent decrease in 2004. A decline will continue for two more years before rebounding again in 2007, according to the research firm. 

Following are a sampling of statistics and excerpts from the 2003 report (reprinted with permission from AAMA). 

When it comes to materials, vinyl patio doors have shown strong growth and represent 31 percent of the market (versus 28 percent in 2001). Steel patio doors have grown significantly from 14 percent in 2001 to 17 percent in 2003, while wood and aluminum have lost share. Although the share of wood units (including clad) has declined, wood patio doors continue to retain the largest share of the patio door market, representing 41 percent of all units.

The wood patio door share of the market has declined slightly from 44 percent in 2001 to 41 percent in 2003. However, wood units should continue to remain the leading framing material for the near future. Both vinyl and steel have, and should continue to, grow quickly, particularly in the new construction market.

Hinged doors have declined as a percentage of patio units from 37 percent in 2001 to 35 percent in 2003. This change is partly attributed to the increased penetration of vinyl systems, which have a higher proportion of sliding doors than other framing materials, plus a related increase in lower priced sliding door products.

Usage of energy-efficient glass in patio doors is generally greater than for windows. This is primarily a result of the larger vision area usage in patio doors which has generated greater demand for efficient systems. It is estimated that more than 70 percent of patio doors utilize low-E glass. 

by Andres Denys
It wasn’t that long ago that our industry had a Henry Ford attitude: you can have any handle you want, as long as it was black.

Now manufacturers are asking vendors to match their white (of which there are at least 200 shades). With all the finishes and colors available now, you get the feeling that you are in a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor. But, a word of caution: don’t load up on the flavor of the month. I remember antique brass flying out of the plant, while I was blowing dust off the satin chrome cartons. 

While on the topic of new flavors could someone explain oil-rubbed bronze, which has a solid brass base and a wider spectrum of shades than the Grand Canyon. What I would like to propose is that industry work from one book of standards, similar to the printing industry’s Pantone™ book. Thus when a purchase order is sent with the words beige or tan, it won’t involve six phone calls back and forth.

Colors and finishes are by far not the only changes to sliding patio doors. There are a wide variety of decorative handles, that when mixed and matched, give a large selection of choices and price points. Sliding patio doors are now featuring all of the style once only found in French-style swing doors, like divided light, decorative handles, multi-point locks and more. These incorporate all the benefits of sliding doors, such as better weathering, less warping and increased living space. 

Following is my wish list for patio door handles:
1. Adheres to industry standards, so manufacturers aren’t pigeon-holed into one vendor or style;
2. Makes life easier for the plant manager;
3. The installer finds it easier and faster;
4. Designed for fewer service calls;
5. Flexible in accepting different hole patterns and door thickness’; and
6. Gives marketing and sales forces new and innovative features to offer to customers.

My personal belief is that not all patio doors are created equal. However, to most consumers, they all look similar: a frame, with glass. So what attracts them first is the handle which they will roll a few times. If they like that they will flip the lock a few times. If all this checks out, the customer says, “I’ll take this one.”

© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.