Retractable Screens Bring Benefits to Windows Too

Trend is toward more integrated systems in the OEM market
Myrna P. Pula, Preferred Engineering Products
March 1, 2007
FEATURE ARTICLE | Products, Materials & Components

Retractable or self-storing screens have been around for many years, but these screens have seen accelerated growth recently. They have caught on as a popular option in particular for patio, French and entry doors.

The latest trend is for manufacturers to provide integrated retractable screens in their windows. With consumers clearly seeing the benefits in doors, more manufacturers see a good opportunity to differentiate their window lines by adding these types of screens as a value-added feature.

When not in use, a rollaway screen disappears into the window frame to offer a clear unobstructed view and easy access for cleaning. With a retractable screen, the user controls when he or she wants the screen—simply sliding it into place when it’s desired and leaving it out of sight when it isn’t.

Homeowners choosing windows with retractable screens enjoy many benefits. For one, a retractable screen allows 50 percent more light to enter the home when stored. They can also contribute to reduced energy costs, thanks to increased solar heat gain and the fact that more natural light translates into less need for electrical lighting.

Retractable screens also do not inhibit the performance of the glass when stored. The coatings on self-cleaning glass products, for example, can react with the sun’s rays to break down organic dirt.
Retractable screens stay cleaner too as airborne dirt, dust and pollen does not cling to the screen while retracted into the housing. When not in use, the screens can also improve the overall aesthetics of the home. One reason they are popular in the door market is that they allow the beauty of entry doors, including elegant decorative glass doorlites, to be visible. In windows, retractable screens mean details like divided lites are no longer covered when the screens are not in use. The self-storing feature also eliminates the chores of screen removal in the winter and putting screens back up in the spring.

Industry sales figures show that because of these benefits, homeowners will pay a premium for a rollaway window screen. Consumer polls indicate that homeowners are twice as likely to purchase a window with a retractable screen as one without. Another factor window manufacturers should consider is that retractable screen products that actually integrate into the window frame at the time of manufacture are also available. The entire screen is encapsulated into a cartridge that can be popped out of the window frame in seconds for repair or replacement. Assembly of the screen components into a complete cartridge can easily be done by the window manufacturer and has been shown to be less time consuming than standard fixed screen manufacturing.
A rollaway screen disappears into the window frame to offer a clear unobstructed view. It also provides easy access for cleaning.
Another not-so-obvious benefit to the manufacturer is the elimination of screens damaged during shipping, since the screen is protected in the stored position until the homeowner is ready to use it. The use of retractable screens also eliminates hourglassing—a challenge that manufacturers face especially when constructing large fixed screens—where the screen cloth distorts the screen frame. Both reduced service calls and reduced screen remakes translate into an improved bottom line.

Homeowners clearly see the appeal of retractable screens and are buying and installing add-on systems from retailers and specialty dealers. Window manufacturers will be interested to hear that integrated retractable screen products can be 80 to 90 percent less expensive than these add-on systems.

While lower in cost than aftermarket systems, an OEM retractable screen makes a window more attractive to consumers, allowing manufacturers to demand a premium price. This option can increase both the manufacturer’s and its dealers’ profits with a clearly differentiated product.

Myrna Pula is marketing systems manager for Preferred Engineering Products, based in Vaughan, ON, Canada. The company manufactures the Slide’N’Hide screen system for the OEM window market, including products designed for casement, hung and slider windows. It also offers the Screenless Screen for entry, French and patio doors, used by some of the largest door manufacturers in North America. More information about its products is available at or by calling 800/387-5835.