Does the raft of smooth finish options launched onto the PVC-U window market signal the beginning of the end for the woodgrain?
Could – are – smooth PVC-U finishes going to overtake woodgrains, as more PVC-U products are sold alongside aluminium?
“You don’t get asked for many woodgrain aluminium finishes (although people obviously do it!)”, says Mike Parczuk, Managing Director. “And we are seeing demand for smooth foils increase”, he continues. “Will smooth finishes take market share from woodgrains? Yes, to an extent they are. But would they overtake them? I just don’t think so, particularly given the growth that we’re seeing in heritage and flush casements.”
Focus on finish
Here at Sternfenster, we have been at the forefront of the PVC-U industry’s rapidly expanded colour offer, in part founded on our partnership with Deceuninck, manufacturing both our 2500 Heritage chamfered and 2800 sculptured systems, plus our Heritage Flush Casement.
These are available in 30 colour pathways in a StyleLine Graf seamless-welded finish, something which, alongside mechanical-jointing options, we have also applied to the manufacture of R9.
“Woodgrains go hand-in-hand with flush products”, Mike continues, “which is why I don’t see that demand falling away.
“What we are seeing is growing demand for smooth finishes alongside that. That’s very clearly being driven by growth in aluminium sales, particularly the home extension markets and the supply of hybrid aluminium and PVC-U solutions.”
In this scenario, he argues, bi-folding doors make up the aluminium element, PVC-U, the windows.
Growing bi-fold sales post-lockdown
Our aluminium offer includes the Visoline aluminium bi-folding door, manufactured in the Smart Visofold System, and inline sliding doors fabricated in Smart Visoglide plus the Alitherm300 window. The investment we have made in our dedicated aluminium manufacturing facility and powder coating line, means that these are available glazed and in any RAL finish in 10-days or less.
Mike continues: “The housing market has more or less ground to a halt but despite lockdown, despite Covid-19, it hasn’t crashed – and is not forecast to do so.
“So, we have a situation where people are stuck at home, not necessarily confident enough to move but with not much else to spend their money on and equity in their properties, prepared to spend on home improvements.
“They’re also squeezed for space, may now need areas to work from home in or just want to extend their living space, and that’s driving amongst other things, the market for traditional and glazed extensions.
“What goes into that – it’s an aluminium bi-fold and a couple of windows – and price point means that nine times out of 10, those windows are colour-matched PVC-U. That means a smooth finish.”
Painted PVC-U – the logical way forward?
What is consistent across everything post-lockdown, aluminium, PVC-U, it doesn’t matter – there is a pressure to turnaround installations faster”, says Mike.
“Lead times have always been critical but homeowners have had time on their hands during lockdown. They want stuff sooner and will buy from those retailers who meet their deadlines.
“Through Deceuninck we can be very competitive on foil lead times but through the investment that we have made in our inhouse spray-booth, we can get aluminium and smooth PVC-U products to our customers more quickly by painting them.”
Coming online (at the time a little inopportunely just ahead of lockdown) we offer spray painted PVC-U products to any RAL colour – in less than half the average turnaround time on foils.
Using a solvent-free paint system specially formulated for PVC-U window and door frames, this includes carrying eight of our most popular colours in stock, which means that we can offer smooth-colour painted finishes in as little as 15-days.
This includes the highly popular Agate Grey; Anthracite Grey; Blue Grey; Light Ivory; Pebble Grey; Pigeon Blue; Platinum Grey; and Slate Grey.
Supplied in a high-performance satin finish, guaranteed for 10-years and tested to an expected service life of 30-years or more, we have supported the trade-fabricator to more closely aligning aluminium and PVC-U lead times.
Seamlessly welded, using the ultra-strong Graf seamless zip-weld, we have brought further precision to finish. This means that we can colour-match casements, tilt-and-turn and vertical sliding windows, and residential and French doors plus ancillary products.
“The service hasn’t only been designed to match into aluminium, although it adds obvious value”, says Mike. “Homeowners, commercial projects – people want smooth finishes for a wide variety of reasons.
“There are also some very strong environmental messages in there too. The paint is solvent free, its water-based, there’s no environmental negative, so there’s actually a very strong retail story.
“Most importantly, however, if you have a customer who wants product quickly, we can offer rapid colour on PVC-U, which in the current climate as an installer, could be critical in wining business.”
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