Heavier Sash Demanding More from Window Hardware

Continued need for differentiation also driving manufacturer choices
February 27, 2013
FEATURE ARTICLE | Products

Window hardware is evolving, with codes and market trends demanding higher performance. Window manufacturers are demanding more too, including components and systems that offer the flexibility to differentiate products in terms of performance, functionality and aesthetics.

Window sash are getting bigger and heavier, increasing demand for products like this heavy-duty hinge from Truth Hardware.

Bigger, Heavier Sash

“New windows continue to push the envelope on size and features,” says Truth Hardware’s Aaron Mundt. “Customers are looking for ways to bring more natural light in and increase thermal performance by offering high performance or triple-pane glass options,” says the CFBU manager for hinged window hardware.

In the casement/awning segment in particular, suppliers agree that manufacturers are looking for hardware capable of handling larger, heavier sash. “Hinges with greater carrying capacities are the hot-selling item this season,” reports David Kline, director of sales and marketing, Amesbury Hardware Products.

“Heavier sashes will continue to become more commonplace, and hardware will need to respond,” agrees Dan Gray, director of business development and product marketing at Roto Frank of America. “Roto commonly builds out sample 3 x 6 foot casements, which in effect are small doors.”

“With the new energy codes looming, manufacturers are looking at glass performance along with hardware performance,” Kline says. He sees the trend not only in casement products, but in hung windows as well, where manufacturers are looking for heavier duty balances.

Automatic sash locks, such as this line from Roto, continue to gain momentum in hung and sliding windows.

Functionality and Aesthetics

In addition to performance, window and door manufacturers continue to demand more from hardware in terms of functionality, as they look to differentiate their product lines from those of their competitors.
 
“The window companies that are
growing in the hung/sliding segment are
those that are offering something different,” reports Connie Trom, Truth’s
CFBU manager for hung/slider window hardware. “They are no longer
interested in commodity locks.”

She reports “explosive growth” in integrated lock/tilt latch systems. Originally intended as an up-sell option, many companies are now offering them standard, she says.

Automatic sash locks are also gaining in popularity, according to Interlock’s Axel Husen, who sees this trend outpacing demand for sash lock/tilt latch combinations. The Interlock president and CEO reports the company has seen strong growth in this segment.

Roto’s Gray agrees, pointing out that automatic sash locks are available on more standard lines than ever before. This style of lock provides the fabricator and its dealers with a real “point of differentiation,” he says.

Trom also sees automatic latching catching on, but mostly on sliding windows. One reason for their appeal is the removable covers, which provide a nice way to differentiate between window lines without changing the fabrication, she says.

In addition to automatic sash locks, suppliers report increased demand for ADA-compliant locks as well. . ADA compliance and overall ergonomic ease for the end user are real issues in the market, Gray reports.

“Customers are looking for product solutions that go beyond ‘bigger and heavier’,” Muntz agrees. He sees a growing need for hardware to be more accessible and easier to use for the nation’s aging and disabled population. “The need to meet ADA requirements is growing, and hardware is an important consideration,” he says.

In terms of aesthetics, many window manufacturers have increased their number of hardware finish options in recent years, but suppliers are divided on whether this trend will continue to gain strength.

“Although we offer our hardware solutions in a variety of colors and finishes, the demand outside of the standard colors―white, tan, etc.―remains rather small,” Husen says. “This trend seems to have lost a bit of its momentum.”

Amesbury’s Kline sees more demand for finish options on the door side of the business, but not so much on the window side. There are quite a few powder-coat colors and plated finishes options available, however, he notes.

Still, Truth’s Mundt says that “customers want to have colors beyond the traditional white, beige and brown.” Window manufacturers are offering more painted options, as well as numerous plated finishes, to allow customers to color match their window and door hardware to the rest of the finishes in the home, he points out. The popularity of stainless steel also continues to grow, he notes, as customers see value in using a better-performing product in all climates.

Window manufacturers are looking at hardware designs, such as this slim-fold casement operator from Interlock, to differentiate their products.

Flexibility

Manufacturers are also looking for hardware products that offer flexibility within their product line.
 
Companies want to extend their product lines using the same basic platform to create a good/better/best product offering, reports Brian Bourgoin, director of product engineering for Roto. “Portfolio segmentation is important, and as part of that, fabricators are looking for products to differentiate their window not only from the competition, but from their other lines,” he says.

Roto has had success with its casement/awning hardware line because it is capable of accommodating a fully loaded window, yet can also be configured to operate at a basic level, Bourgoin says. “Fabricators want the build-out options with little or no assembly-line modifications.”

Truth’s Mundt offers a similar perspective. “Having a broad product portfolio with multiple options, as well as a strong engineering service
background, helps set hardware manufacturers apart,” he says. As examples, he cites the need for new trim sets to differentiate window and door lines, as well as adjustable hardware that is simple to apply to reduce manufacturing time and service calls.

“Window manufacturers are looking for a hardware supplier that is responsive and provides innovative product solutions,” he says.