IN DEPTH: Doors and Windows

Energy efficiency, privacy, security and aesthetics drive purchase decisions, but trends are evolving as upgrades become expectations.

Entry doors, patio doors and windows work together to provide a home’s connection to the outdoors, focusing attention on their energy efficiency, appearance and operation. Features have improved so much that what differentiated products in the past is now expected, putting more attention on style, accessories and the balance between daylight and privacy.

“Windows and exterior doors can be sold together when homeowners look to change their exterior look,” says Derek Brosterhous, director of product line management for doors at Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors. “But windows are often bought as part of a package with siding, too. Door projects are more often a separate purchase, as the front door makes an aesthetic statement by itself.”

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Patio doors also are part of that mix. “Windows and patio doors are definitely connected decisions,” says Elizabeth Souders, director product marketing at Jeld-Wen. “We see the decision made on one often influences the other.”

Provia-Entry-DoorThe Embarq entry door from ProVia, the only door company to win the Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for Door Manufacturing, provides a U-factor of 0.10, said to be the lowest recorded heat conduction measurement for entry doors in the U.S. The 2.5″-thick door features a dual perimeter seal, custom bottom sweep and an insulation chamber in the side rails.

All three product lines have similar but separate requirements. “We look at products from three perspectives: design, functionality and performance,” says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem. “Those are the key areas that customers are looking at when they decide what products to buy.

Market Rebounds
The market for all three categories is growing as the housing market rebounds, reports Jay Dwivedi, an analyst at Principia who worked on the company’s Windows and Patio Doors 2015; Residential and Light Commercial report published in April. “The recession is behind us as of 2012,” he says. “We’ve come a long way. Housing is recovering. Starts and prices are up. More people are working and more people are buying homes.”

Principia estimates 41 million window units were purchased in 2014, and the total will hit 49.1 million units in 2017. “Last year was a good year; 2015 will be a great year,” he says. “We expect 2016 will retain the momentum that’s been underway.”