Strong remodeling market points to growth
Even with growth in new construction projected to slow this year, the remodeling and renovation market looks to remain strong. The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University projects annual growth of 5.1% in spending on owner-occupied homes in the U.S. by the end of 2019. That’s off the 7%-plus rate of the last couple years, but still in line with historic averages. With windows and doors among the easiest ways to improve a home, manufacturers in those segments are optimistic about 2019 and beyond. With homeowners poised to invest in their homes, and realize energy savings from new windows and doors, there’s plenty of opportunity in both categories.
“We’re very upbeat about what this year’s going to look like,” says Phil Wengerd, ProVia’s vice president of market strategies. “I would say what we’re hearing back from our customers is very good optimism for what 2019’s going to look like. If this is any indication, we’ve had the strongest start ever [to the year], so we’re excited about that.”
Window manufacturers are continuing to improve performance and energy efficiency as they look to meet increased demands from builders and homeowners.
Thermo-Tech introduced its Northern Elevations product line in late 2018. The triple-pane window has a 4-9/16″ frame, with 1/2″ Argon-filled air spaces between panes—the optimal for sound control and insulation, says Doug Cook, Thermo-Tech sales & marketing manager.
The windows are available in a full line of styles including double-hung, single-hung, awning, casement and more. Other features include a warm-edge spacer system to enhance durability and energy efficiency, and fusion-welded corners that contribute to strength and durability.
Thermo-Tech developed the window with the goal of exceeding future Energy Star standards, Cook says.
“For the last four years, we really designed this product to make sure that whatever Energy Star does, we’re there,” he says. “When we were looking at different frames and thicknesses, we just decided that the 4-9/16″ frame, with the extra weight of the three-pane glass, was the way to go.”
The advantage of Thermo-Tech windows is that the company focuses on the value of the entire window package, Cook says.
“Some companies focus on one thing, like thermal performance,” he says. “But thermal performance doesn’t have really much to do with the structural part of the window, which is more what reflects better air infiltration resistance, better water infiltration resistance, and overall strength.”
Ply Gem has identified several key design and performance trends: dark window exteriors, large windows and patio doors, sound abatement STC glass options and impact-rated window and door solutions.
Another important trend in the window segment is ease of installation. Ply Gem recently conducted a national survey of builders and remodelers that found availability of labor is their No. 1 business concern.
“With that in mind, we innovate our product lines to ensure faster, easier and more accurate installation,” says VP of Marketing, Mark Montgomery. “Further, the demand for improved design, function and performance constantly challenges our product innovation team to work on new product features, such as advanced dark color offerings and technological additions like automation, which are available on many of our window and door product lines. We pride ourselves on being able to offer a variety of thermal, acoustic, and impact-rated glass packages also.” Ply Gem recently introduced large format patio doors, addressing the demand for large glass walls featuring high tech integration, weather resiliency and energy efficiency. The MaxView Patio Door is available in sizes up to 18′ wide by 10′ tall and is available with an automated operating system that can be controlled by a remote control or with a smartphone app.
The Ply Gem EuroSeries Sliding Patio Door and 4712 Builder Series aluminum windows both offer passive impact protection. Both products are compliant with Miami-Dade County High Velocity Hurricane Zone hurricane codes, protecting homeowners from weather elements while still offering a large viewing area.
“Having added Atrium Windows, American Craftsman and Silver Line to the Ply Gem Windows family of brands, we are now able to synergize the best of each product line and manufacture a variety of best-in-class windows and patio doors for the unique needs of each region, customer preference, and price range,” Montgomery says.
Jeld-Wen is aiming to make installation easier for contractors with its latest window introductions. The company’s new Siteline Pocket and Sash Pack windows fill a gap in Jeld-Wen’s repair and remodel market, while providing easier install and a clean aesthetic, says Sayanti Basu, the company’s director of wood windows.
“The value proposition that the Siteline Pocket has…it’s extremely unique because we literally have made work easy for the builders and the remodeling market,” Basu says. “They don’t need to be worried about catering to tolerances; it’s a very clean-cut installation. There are easy connections which do not require a very high level of expertise and several years of experience to look out for errors. And we constantly keep on building toward that model.” The new windows are also constructed of Jeld-Wen’s proprietary AuraLast-treated pine wood, with the wood treated all the way to the core.
Later this year, Jeld-Wen will be launching the Siteline panoramic gliding patio door, which will be available as large as 7’x10′ panels.
“That supports the trend that’s going on in the building and construction world which is bigger and better, so more daylight openings,” Basu says. “And the proprietary hardware that we are using makes the operation really smooth for a panel of that size. It’s got a flush handle set, which gives a very contemporary look. And also, from a perspective of a performance rating, the way the door mechanism and operation are set up will help us reach higher ratings. So, homeowners can be worry-free, not only when it comes to the installation part, but also just from the general performance of the door.”
ProVia has significantly expanded its offerings of decorative glass for its windows, with 12 lines now available from the company.
“Now, as a homeowner, you can actually have your door and your window complement each other with decorative glass,” Wengerd says.
Each panel is custom-made to the size of the window, so the company doesn’t expect homeowners to opt for decorative glass throughout the home. “However, what we’re finding is that there’s definitely an interest in homeowners using decorative glass as an accent to only certain portions of the window, and they might only put that in certain rooms of their home,” Wengerd says. “It remains to be seen how much traction that actually gets but it certainly is a really neat addition to what’s available on the market in terms of windows.”
ProVia also added color options to its internal blind system, with four new colors beyond the previous white: silver, champagne, cream, and tan.
Doors are often dismissed as a commodity, but manufacturers are working to show how the right door can significantly enhance the look of a home. “We’ve been inspired by the idea that doors have the power to completely transform a space and believe it or not, doors provide, throughout the home, on average, around 800 square feet of visual impact,” says David Perkins, Masonite vice president of marketing. “The amount of space that doors occupy in the home and the fact that anybody would not pay an incredible amount of attention to making sure that space is properly designed to complement the design of the rest of the home, they’re missing out.”
The company’s new Livingston Interior Molded Door is designed with that trend in mind. “It has subtle, yet distinct craftsmanship, in the details of the profile and it provides a versatile alternative to your traditional six-panel interior doors or traditional two-panel interior doors,” Perkins says. “It’s the next generation of trying to open people’s eyes to the fact that interior molded doors can really add a lot of style and beauty to the design of the home and can be a defining element in the home.”
Another important trend Masonite is seeing is the desire to protect privacy, but also let more light into the home. New this year is Masonite’s Cross Reed Glass, a decorative glass for front doors that fits into the genre of textured glass or of decorative glass.
“Light comes in, but yet you still can’t see through it, and it has nice clean contemporary and continuous linear pattern to it, so we think this is going to be a home-run as well,” Perkins says.
Contractors are also looking for products that they can install more quickly and easily, a need Masonite is trying to meet with the new Snap Fit Frame. The snap-in-place frame is easy to install and provides a clean look with no screw plugs, Perkins says. Masonite also introduced a new impact mini-blind at this year’s International Builders’ Show, designed to meet hurricane zone and wind-borne debris code requirements in coastal areas. The company’s other new launch is its Wrought Iron Frame for glass cut outs.
The frame is “perfect for Mediterranean and Southwestern-style homes that are looking for that rustic look and subtle detailing,” Perkins says. “It features fastener heads that have been finished to more precisely match the finish of the frame and it provides a nice rustic look.”
GlassCraft Door Company is seeing consumers move toward simpler designs with less moulding and fewer decorative aspects. Homeowners are looking for a more contemporary, clean look, says GlassCraft President John Plummer. “It’s all about modern right now, both modern and simple lines,” Plummer says. “We have a whole new line of finish colors for our fiberglass, wood and steel doors.”
Designs are trending to grays and blacks and away from browns, Plummer adds. “Almost every door we make is pre-sold by our dealers and therefore, we make 200 to 300 customer one-of-a-kind doors every day,” he says. “Other door companies simply don’t offer a lot of the features that we offer, such as built-in multi-point hardware or Dutch doors or an arched top double door.”
Homeowners are demanding products that can be customized to meet the needs of their lifestyle and bring their own personal style to life, says Kyle Rhine, Therma-Tru public relations and advertising specialist. Therma-Tru has identified three trends for 2019 that guide its product introductions:
Humble Roots: “Casual and comfortable with a clean edge, this trend is grounded in easy living and embodies comfort through a reconnection with the environment,” Rhine says. “Think natural textures, dimensional patterns and fresh, uplifting hues.”
Confident Focus: “Modern design with a soft, livable touch, this trend embodies unexpected details and experimental design in exciting new ways. An eclectic blend of mixed materials, bold elements and soft touches to create a strikingly distinct, yet livable space.”
Timeless Twist: “A fresh, playful twist on traditional, this trend strikes the perfect balance between old and new, yesterday’s charms revived by today’s pep. Classic motifs go light and airy, and color palettes go bright and lively, bringing an understated sense of sophistication to the home.”
Among the products Therma-Tru has introduced are new styles for its Classic-Craft American Style Collection Shaker-Style Doors. The portfolio has been expanded to offer broad appeal and complement more architectural styles, Rhine says.
Therma-Tru also has new Satin Etch Privacy and Textured Glass for Classic-Craft Premium Entryways.
“With a pure, simple design aesthetic, Satin Etch glass welcomes natural light into the home while maintaining a high level of privacy and complements market trends toward simplistic design elements throughout the home,” Rhine says. “This fine-textured pearlescent glass makes a style statement when paired with Classic-Craft premium entryways and is ideal for a wide range of home styles with a modern or contemporary twist, including Mid-Century Modern, Simple Barn, High Fashion Farmhouse and more.”
New Therma-Tru door surrounds help tie the entryway in with the rest of the home’s architectural details, creating a cohesive look with enhanced curb appeal, Rhine says, and are available in an assortment chosen to complement virtually any door style.
Homeowners are looking for simplistic design elements throughout the home and EnLiten Flush-Glazed Internal Blinds for Smooth-Star Doors are designed to meet that trend. The blinds are available for doors throughout the home and feature a cordless design for a clean and simple aesthetic that is both child- and pet-friendly.
Therma-Tru has also introduced new simulated divided lite bars for its Fiber-Classic, Smooth-Star, Profiles and Traditions doors and sidelites.
“They feature a durable composite material that is engineered to be used in any climate [and] our new SDLs can be used with or without a storm door and painted or stained any color, all while maintaining Therma-Tru’s limited warranty,” Rhine says.
Glenview Doors is seeing more interest in transitional and modern styles. That’s a change from recent years when high-end homeowners were looking for Gothic arches, raised mouldings and wrought iron, says Business Manager Darek Szyszko.
“Anything with clean sightlines, curb cuts, metal inlays, a lot more very specific modern aesthetics,” Szyszko says. “We’re noticing a lot more glass usage. Just simple glass, wide open looks as opposed to two years ago where we would have done the same large glass panels, but it would have had a large raised moulding or maybe a decorative element in the glass itself.” Glenview Doors uses a layered construction process, called Euro Technology, that gives the company the ability to offer a thicker, warranted, prefinished solid wood entry system without an overhang requirement. “Not only are the doors twice as thick as compared to a standard wood entry, they arrive pre-finished, pre-hung, and include all components needed for installation,” Szyszko says. “We have chosen to build and design in a way that removes many of the common pain points associated with traditional wood door construction—most common being warping, swelling, and cracking. Having this line available in our ready-to-ship program also helps, as most clients can receive their pre-hung, pre-finished, ready-to-install entry system within 10 business days.” With more demand from contractors for pre-finished products, ProVia has introduced its new FusionFrame, an alternative to composite or wood jambs, in partnership with Endura.
“Pre-finishing is such an important component in what we do for providing an entry system, this allows us to take a two-part frame system where you can actually remove a cover that goes onto the frame, do the installation of the door and then reattach this cover,” Wengerd says. “So, you end up with no exposed fasteners.”
FusionFrame is available as a textured or smooth frame and can be painted or stained in custom colors to match the door, shutters, or other exterior features.
“What took us down that path is we’ve been looking for a good product to be able to apply a stain finish to and there have been other products available on the market through other manufacturers but we have had difficulty having those products stand up to the wear and tear of heat and cold in the field,” Wengerd says. “We’re really happy about where we’re headed with this product because it seems to be a very stable product and it’s also giving us the ability to help pre-finish it.”
In the door segment, Jeld-Wen is focusing on its fiberglass offerings.
“We have anywhere from what we call our Smooth-Pro door, which is your builder grade smooth entry level price point fiberglass door, and then the other end of the spectrum we have our Aurora luxury fiberglass door which is really the best door in the industry,” says Dan Jacobs, director of product management. “It’s a luxury product. It looks exactly like wood. We’ve had professionals that have been in the industry their entire lives that cannot distinguish this fiberglass door from a wood door.”
The company will be rolling out a new glass program later this year and introduced several new colors at IBS.
“Decorative glass as a category has really changed a lot,” Jacobs says. “You look at what we were doing not many years ago, you had that antique, brassy look. That’s not what we mean by decorative glass anymore.”
With the labor shortage in the construction industry, installation errors have become an increasing concern. Many callbacks or warranty issues derive from improper installation. Manufacturers are trying to address that issue not only with products that are easier to install, but also by helping dealers and contractors better train their personnel.
Recently, Therma-Tru partnered with OSI Brand construction sealants to launch its new Certified Door System Installer Training Program.
“It’s designed to educate on the best practices for sealing and installing Therma-Tru door systems,” Rhine says. “The convenient, online-based program is free-of-charge and can be accessed from anywhere. Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive a certificate and credential card, proving their status as a Therma-Tru Certified Door System Installer.”
ProVia also has an installer certification program that it makes available to its customers. The training program is offered at ProVia’s Ohio facility, where the company has created a controlled lab environment with several different applications. Thanks to the success of that effort, ProVia is also expanding its training team to take the program to customer locations.
“That makes it a bit more challenging and the type of training we’re able to do is a bit more limited because we can’t obviously take everything with us, but that has really helped us to help our customers minimize those errors in installation,” Wengerd says. “In addition to that, we’ve expanded quite substantially our library of installation videos and are continuing to do so at a rapid pace so that through our customer service team, we’re able to quickly point people in the direction of finding a visual of how to correct a problem or how to properly install a product from the beginning.”
Making installation as easy as possible has been a focus for Glenview Doors, offering the entire door package as a single, ready-to-go piece, including in-house lockset installation.
“As long as you have a level, you have a helper and you have the basic idea of how to install a door, you should be able to do this,” Szyszko says. “All of the prep has already been done by our team, so we know that all they need to do is properly mount, level, shim, seal and then hang the actual slabs.”
Many manufacturers also offer online training and videos to help make sure their products are installed correctly. The most important step a dealer can take, they say, is to encourage their customers, especially non-professionals, to get the help they need.
“Obviously we’ve got training documentation on the correct way to install product, but I think that one of the key things here is entry doors, and this goes for windows too, it’s not the easiest installation,” Jeld-Wen’s Jacobs says. “It’s definitely a product that requires some professional knowledge to install, so really pushing consumers to get a pre-hung product that’s a little bit easier to install and then pushing them to experts in the industry to help install is probably the right thing to do.”