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Building Products October 2017

INDUSTRY COMMENT OCTOBER 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 11 large-span sliding doors on their dwellings. The majority of systems are aluminium due to the inherent rigidity of the material, with some upscale brands offering the most impressive operating systems and uninterrupted glass spans. Undoubtedly popularised by the likes of Kevin McCloud and a gaggle of other TV ‘starchitects’, aluminium has been reintroduced to Mr and Mrs Jones-at-home, after being in the home improvement wilderness for decades. Homeowners now want to match their windows with their sliding doors with the result that many of the systems suppliers have rushed out brand new window suites to satisfy the demand. The ramifications of the growing popularity of aluminium extend beyond the market stimulus that is undoubtedly good for the residential home improvement sector: the market is better for the impetus provided by the new found interest in aluminium, with everyone in the supply chain having to up their game. Paradoxically, the pvc-u sector is now producing window and door styles and colours designed to emulate aluminium, in order to provide a foil against its advance. Many aluminium offer not only residential products but others, such as curtain walling and commercial door systems, simply because they can. These products have found a ready audience, and one of the side effects of the increased popularity of aluminium in home improvements is that the traditional demarcations of pvc-u versus aluminium are crumbling. Many fabricators and installers have broadened their scope to include not just aluminium residential windows and doors, but also a wide range of commercial glazing and entrance systems. Fortunately, the adverse reputation that once beset the ‘double glazing’ industry is many years in the past, those responsible having long since sought easier pickings. The window, door and glazing industry of today is as professional as any building and construction related sector and, perhaps determined to bury some of its old reputation for good, tries harder than many. Just as has been proved time and again in other sectors – the motor industry being a key example – window and door manufacturers are now enjoying a purple patch as specifiers at every level are greeted with genuine innovation. Great looking products also improve performance ahead of regulated requirements and buyers are responding enthusiastically. Similarly, specialist contractors understand that spreading their skill and project base also brings new rewards and spreads risk; many glazing contractors experiencing lean pickings in a home improvement market that is badly affected by Brexit and a weak political backdrop, are buoyed by busy commercial glazing activities. Overall, the UK markets for windows, doors and broader aspects of glazing are doing very well, and it is actually a just reward for an industry that is at the top of its game. Paul Godwin is Managing Director of FIT Events


Building Products October 2017
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