Survey Shows Growth Spurt in Vinyl Color and Finish Options

Ask vinyl window manufacturers 10 or 20 years ago, most of them would have reported that 90 percent of their sales or more were white vinyl. And many seemed to prefer things that way. “Color is all the way through” was a selling point for many vinyl window companies.

According to a Window & Door survey of vinyl window manufacturers, things are changing. More and more companies are promoting new interior and exterior finish options—and apparently they are selling them too.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 shows estimates for the percentage of non-white window sales at 32 different U.S. vinyl window makers for 2008, along with projections for this year and 2014. More than 90 percent of our respondents predicted the percentage of color products they offered in 2014 would surpass 2008 levels. Only three didn’t—probably based on growth expectations in different markets. Based on the spreads shown in the chart, it’s evident that some companies are predicting sizeable jumps.

None of our respondents said non-white vinyl accounted for more than 40 percent of their sales in 2008. More than 10 percent predict that for 2014. One in five of our manufacturers said non-white accounted for more than 20 percent of their sales in 2008. More than half our respondents predict that will be the case for them in 2014.

More than half our respondents reported offering one to five exterior options for their vinyl products currently. About a third offered 10 or more options, while only a smaller percentage offered six to 10.

Our survey suggests there’s less demand for a wide variety of choices on the inside. Nearly two thirds of our respondents said they offered one to five. Once manufacturers start to add options, however, it seems many like to keep expanding the variety. As was the case with outside of windows, the number of manufacturers offering 10 or more options surpassed the number offering 6 to 10.

Manufacturers relied most heavily on paints and coatings of all the options for adding a new finish to their vinyl. Nearly two thirds reported using painted or coated vinyl. More than half also reported using woodgrain laminated. Capstocked products from extruders were also used by many of the respondents. Small portions of manufacturers said they used laminate technology to apply colors or real woodgrain veneers. None of the respondents used exterior aluminum cladding, an option used by a number of Canadian vinyl window manufacturers. (Canadian manufacturers were not part of the survey, because colors and finishes much more established in that vinyl product market than in the U.S.)

Our survey suggests nearly a third of vinyl manufacturers rely exclusively on what their extruder offers as far as color and finish options. Nearly half say they rely on their extruder for at least some of the color and finish options they offer.

What may be noteworthy at this point is that half of vinyl window maker respondents now say they have their own in-house painting or coating capabilities. That’s a much greater percentage than those who have taken on profile wrapping. Only 6 percent of our respondents said they did in-house profile lamination.