SHELTER Magazine

Only Online - Shelter April 2007

Window Trends

The Top of the Class
Manufacturers Hope to Gain Market Share with New Product Offerings

by Samantha Carpenter

"Without an impact solution, we have a void in our program that allows a competitor to get in the door to offer our customers something we don't have," Chris Reilly, director of marketing communications and replacement programs for the Atrium Companies, says. "We recognize that customers need an impact solution and we want to be the one to provide it."

Making an Impact
At the recent International Builders' Show, a large display of windows that fall in the impact-resistant product category were displayed. Windows with screens, decorative glass options and high energy efficiency were also displayed.

The manufacturers gave a variety of reasons on why their companies have chosen to produce a particular window type.

The Atrium Companies decided to offers its full line of impact-resistant windows after reviewing information it collected from laminated glass suppliers, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and Ducker Research, which it says helped validate the market size.

"Most of the research was grassroots by looking at the competitive landscape and customer needs," Reilly says.

Andersen Windows also offers an impact-resistant product line.

"The building codes are now mandating that type of product in coastal areas … We would have very little sales opportunities on the coast and we wouldn't be able to compete [if we didn't offer an impact-resistant product line]," Steve Berg, coastal products manager for Andersen Windows, says.

In its 400 Series product line, the windows are not only impact-resistant, but they also have low-E4 glass, a protective film on the inside and outside which protects in the transportation and installation of the product and a low-maintenance coating on the window.

The Screen Option
JELD-WEN also listened to customers who said a fully integrated retractable screen would save them time every year when people typically take hours removing and storing screens.

"JELD-WEN is committed to providing high-design options that preserve the architectural integrity of custom wood windows," says Rod Clark, wood windows product marketing manager. "The company chose to partner with Phantom Screens because we believe Phantom makes the best retractable screen with the highest quality and best features available."

Clark says that one of the benefits of this partnership is that instead of adding on the screen at a later time with materials that don't match, these screens are factory installed.

Marvin Windows is also manufacturing a window with a screen, but with a different twist.

"Marvin's venting picture windows solve an issue that has challenged the industry for decades," John Kirchner, public relations managers, says. "Historically, homeowners and architects have had to make a trade-off between enjoying big beautiful unobstructed views and ventilation. If they choose to install stationary windows with large expanses of glass, they have a spectacular view but windows that cannot open. The alternative was to mull multiple operating units to achieve ventilation, but then screens, hardware and mull posts would interfere with the views. With [this product], there are no trade-offs."

A Matter of Decoration
Other manufacturers are looking to spice up their window line by offering decorative glass options. "We are continuously expanding our options and trying to offer decorative features that are also affordable," Jeff Kibler, brand manager for Peachtree Doors and Windows, says. "[Peachtree's 300 Series double hung window] combines optically divided lite grilles and a narrow bead of black acrylic caming to accentuate the grilles. It's considerably less expensive than true-edge beveled glass, and is available in straight-line patterns on any Peachtree window or patio door."

Kibler explains that the company didn't conduct any official research, but it did use anecdotal information from dealers and builders that found that the more options a company offers, the more homeowners it can please with its product selection.

"We received very positive feedback from our readers, which prompted us to move forward with the expansion of the product line," Nugent says.

Don't Waste Your Energy
Customers are also looking for products that are more energy efficient, according to two window manufacturers.

"Weather Shield recognized that the rising cost of heating and cooling would have homeowners, builders and architects seeking the most efficient products available," says Dave Koester, brand manager for the Legacy Series, ProShield and LifeGuard product lines. "Recent publicized research showed the importance of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and the desire to help America reduce its dependence on foreign fuels (particularly oil)."

There was no formal research conducted before the company decided to begin manufacturing its Zo-e-shield window brand. Zo-e-shield glazing systems deliver low center-of-glass U-values and solar heat gain coefficients; protect a home's interior from harmful ultraviolet rays while allowing more visible light into the home; provide exterior surfaces that are easy to clean, repel dirt and reduce water spots; and reduce condensation.

"Our customers were asking for help in reducing heating and cooling costs and to be more kind to the environment along the way," he explains.

"Every buying audience-builders, remodelers and homeowners-is embracing energy-efficient glass packages for windows and doors right now," says Chris Monroe, vice president of marketing for Simonton Windows. "ENERGY STAR® qualifications and programs have made a strong impact on people no matter what their geographical market. Ever since fuel costs started to rise we've seen a steady and continuing increase in requests for energy-efficient glass packages."

While many customers in coastal states will most likely purchase impact-resistant windows, only time will tell if the trends of built-in screens, decorative glass options or high energy efficiency will win market share.

Samantha Carpenter is editor for SHELTER magazine.