The recent Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) Technical and Manufacturing Conference in Minneapolis, Minn., featured sessions that examined the U.S. market for fenestration products, including one that focused on results and analysis of the 2018 WDMA window, entry door and architectural door market studies. One of the study’s authors, Brad Farnsworth of The Farnsworth Group, said the next couple of years could be great for the industry.

Brad Farnsworth of The Farnsworth Group shares a market research report at the WDMA Technical and Manufacturing Conference.

“Put your growth initiatives into play,” he said. “The market is good.”

Farnsworth pointed to a surging housing market and the recent tax cuts as potential drivers of growth. On the down side, he warned that tariffs recently enacted by the White House could be a significant issue for industry.

Overall shipments of residential windows grew 7.4 percent to 46.4 million units in 2017. Farnsworth said shipments should increase over the next three years, but will slow down to a growth rate of 3.5 percent in 2020.  The South Atlantic region captured the largest share of residential window shipments in 2017 with 21.3 percent, followed by the East North Central region with 16.9. The lowest share of windows was seen in the Mountain and East South Central regions with 5.4 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

Sliding patio doors grew 5.5 percent to 2.9 million units in 2017. Shipments are expected to rise in 2018 to 5.1 percent,but will slow to 3 percent by 2020. The East North Central region led in patio doors with 20.5 percent of all shipments. The Pacific region nabbed 17.1 percent.

Hinged patio doors grew 6.2 percent to 1 million units in 2017, Farnsworth said. Total growth is expected to slow to 3.9 percent in 2020. The South Atlantic region led with 23.2 percent of shipments.

Commercial shop-built windows grew 8.3 percent to 850,000 units in 2017. Total growth will slow to 1.8 percent by 2020. The Mid-Atlantic region represented 26.1 percent of shipments last year.

Architectural interior flush doors grew 4.5 percent to nearly 2.9 million units in 2017. Growth should slow in 2018 to 1.1 percent with 0.7-percent growth by 2020.

Entry doors grew 7 percent to 10.4 million units, the study found. Growth will be 6.2 percent in 2018 and 3.4 percent in 2020 with 12 million units expected to be shipped. The West South region represented 20.8 percent of shipments in 2017.

How Housing Affects Fenestration

Ed Hudson, the director of marketing research with the Home Innovation Research Lab, hosted another session that noted how changes in the U.S. housing market are propelling changes in the U.S. door and window market. For example, multifamily has gone from 15 percent of housing to 35 percent of housing during the past decade, and that has changed the types of windows that many companies now manufacture. Research also indicates that wall heights are getting taller, which is affecting door and window size selection.

Hudson also pointed out that the labor shortages in the construction industry are leading to innovative designs that are essentially foolproof and can be installed quickly by low-skilled workers — or even by a house’s framing crew.

Hudson said the recession pushed consumers to buy more vinyl windows. Today, vinyl represents nearly 70 percent of the market, and Hudson said that growth came at the expense of aluminum, which saw its market share shrink from about 25 percent in 2005 to around 7 percent in 2017. Demand for products made from wood, aluminum-clad wood, vinyl-clad wood and fiberglass were essentially flat during the past decade.

A total of 81 percent of large homebuilders (those who build more than 51 homes per year) use vinyl windows as the predominant fenestration product in new construction.

“Large builders see vinyl as the go-to window,” Hudson said.

Small builders, generally those who put up high-end custom homes, use more wood. Wood windows remain a popular choice for luxury homes, where they have 39 percent of the market.

“They’re still seen as higher-end products,” Hudson said.

As far as venting styles, single-hung windows remain the most popular, with about 37 percent of the total market. Double-hung windows represent 31 percent of the market. The next-most-popular styles are sliding (12 percent) and casement (11 percent).

As far as energy efficiency, the industry has gotten on board in a big way thanks to changing regulations. About 90 percent of windows are double-glazed, low-E glazing is on about 75-80 percent of windows, and gas-filled windows went from 10 percent of the market in 2006 to about 40 percent in 2017.

“That’s phenomenal growth,” Hudson said.

Impact-rated products have grown from about went from 3 percent in 2006 to about 7 percent in 2017. Expect that number to keep rising because Florida’s population will keep on growing, Hudson said.

Among entry doors for new construction, about 50 percent of the market today is fiberglass. Steel-raised panel doors are 22 percent of the market, and wood-raised panel doors are 19 percent. Steel entry doors have lost market share across the board, Hudson said.

As for patio doors, Hudson said an estimated 3.7 million patio doors were installed in 2017. Nearly 900,000 were vinyl.

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