In the future, fiberglass will...

John G. Swanson
October 17, 2007
THE TALK...

The Talk, Page 2...

Survey Results for 10/17/2007:

In the future, fiberglass will...

...never achieve a top share in doors or windows.

 

 

38%

 

...enjoy top share in both the window and door markets.

 

 

31%

 

...top the door market, but not windows.

 

 

31%

 

The industry’s expectations regarding fiberglass are somewhat mixed, and I can’t say I’m too surprised. Obviously, there are some fans out there. A little more than 30 percent of respondents see it becoming number one in both doors and windows. A similar percentage sees fiberglass topping the entry door market, but not windows. And finally, about 40 percent of you don’t think it will become the market leader in doors or windows.

As I noted last week, I can see the day when fiberglass will hold the number one position in the entry door market. One key benefit of fiberglass over the current market share leader—steel—is resistance to dents and dings. Although I suspect there are some companies making steel doors that might dispute that. Of course, the technology for creating wood “looks” is advancing rapidly with fiberglass, and we’ve seen an expanding palette of designs that I imagine will further expand their appeal.

Finally, I would note, we’ve seen an influx of fiberglass doors from overseas. I have to believe this is lowering prices of fiberglass doors and making them an option for more buyers.

On the window side, the outlook for fiberglass is less clear. The material has some benefits that many in the industry like. “We here at Burnett and Sons, Sacramento, have been promoting fiberglass door and window products for some time now,” writes Gene Patterson, who is with the company’s window division. “We see fiberglass as a fairly ‘bomb proof’ material for homeowners who are concerned with the effects of hot sun from the south and southwest direction on traditional materials. The many colors available and paintability add to its appeal.”

Whether he thinks it could surpass vinyl in market share, he doesn’t say exactly, but “fiberglass will probably become the new preferred material for those who can’t find the money in the budget for wood and clad wood products,” Patterson predicts.

I’m not willing to predict fiberglass could surpass vinyl yet either. Vinyl remains a very cost effective framing material for windows. I’ve heard the pros and cons for both materials—fiberglass is stronger, vinyl can be welded, etc.—but I’m not enough of a technical expert to suggest there’s any one best. I have heard others, like Patterson, say fiberglass has a particular advantage in hot, sunny climates, but I can find many others on the vinyl side who will tell me they have products that will stand up to those conditions.

So if I don’t foresee fiberglass surpassing vinyl in terms of window market share, what do I expect. My best guess is that things will get more complicated, at least for market researchers. I think we’ll see more products combining materials—with designers trying to optimize the benefits of each. This isn’t anything new. We have wood products clad with vinyl, we have fiberglass products clad with wood, we have vinyl products reinforced with fiberglass, etc. And we’re going to get more materials like wood/plastic composites working their way into the equation.