PCBC Sends Message of Performance

Manufacturers highlight energy efficiency at West Coast show
Christina Lewellen
June 13, 2007
Meetings & Events

San Francisco—If this year’s International Builders’ Show focused on aesthetics and differentiation, its West Coast counterpart, the PCBC: The Premier Building Show, took a different path. Exhibitors highlighted their products’ performance attributes front-and-center.
The West Coast audience is arguably more performance-minded, particularly builders in California dealing with the energy efficiency guidelines outlined in Title 24. Window and door manufacturers targeted this audience with details on their latest low-E glass packages, information about water resistance and other performance numbers.

Window and door manufacturers reported catering their displays to the West Coast market by showcasing in-demand styles and relevant performance features.

“Performance glass means something to just about everybody,” said Jeff Kibler, Peachtree Doors & Windows brand manager. “Whether it’s for ‘green’ or for energy and money savings, people want to see the best of all of the glazing technology.” Peachtree, along with other operations in the Weather Shield Manufacturing family of companies, were among numerous window and door manufacturers dedicating significant display space to their performance glass offerings.

Weather Shield, Peachtree and the new Visions Windows & Doors vinyl operation each promoted Zo-e-Shield performance glass, featuring Real Warm Edge spacer, multiple layers of low-E glass and inert gas-filled airspaces. Gone are the days when manufacturers assign a trademarked name to a glass system and pass it along as different, Kibler added.

Milgard Windows & Doors highlighted its SunCoatMax low-E insulating glass system, pointing out to attending builders that high performance glass packages will often allow cost-saving adjustments with other aspects of the house. “Builders can reduce the size of their air conditioning units with this glass,” explained Christopher Thiede, spokesperson for the manufacturer. “A house is definitely a system and everything plays off each other.”

Atrium Cos. sang the praises of its Cardinal LoE 366 glass, a three-coat low-E offering, over its two-coat counterparts. “We’re really talking up glass performance,” said Mark Gallant, vice president of marketing. “Builders have got to run the calculations to understand that they can save about $500 on air conditioner costs with a $60 to $100 upgrade with low-E option.”

Andersen Windows showcased its Low-E4 glass, which features an exterior coating that reduces water spots and dirt build-up when activated by sunlight, and MI Windows & Doors highlighted its use of Cardinal’s LoE 366 glass.

Door manufacturers at the show emphasized strong components and integrated systems. Simpson Door Co. was clear in delivering its performance message with a display that explained to attendees how engineering tweaks on its doors result in longer-term performance. The company fingerjointed a composite material on the bottom corners of its slabs, an upgrade named UltraBlock, to resist the effects of water intrusion. The manufacturer also added a water barrier to the outside of its doors, a medium density overlay that is primed and ready to paint. “We’re trying to reach the builder with our upgrades,” said Brad Loveless, marketing manager. “We have less of a focus on aesthetics at this show, and more on performance.”

Therma-Tru Doors put its TruDefense system to the test for all to see on the trade show floor with a rain simulation display, pouring 25 inches of water per hour on an 8-foot Smooth Star inswing French door. The nearby “component wall” showed attendees the individual elements that combine to make the company’s door system. Seemingly simple adjustments to traditional door systems such as a corner pad to stop the bottom of the door from absorbing water, raised weatherseals that “lock” together to form a barrier from weather intrusion, adjustable hinges and standard multi-point locking systems, can result in the elimination of big headaches for builders down the road, the company expressed.

Therma-Tru, along with several other door manufacturers, introduced between-the-glass wrought iron designs to match Southwestern décor styles. The thinner wrought iron patterns are protected inside the IG unit, giving the option of the traditional wrought iron look without susceptibility to rusting and other damage.

The folding exterior door systems many companies displayed at the Builders’ Show in February gained additional momentum at this summer show as floor shoppers sought solutions to bring the outdoors in for West Coast and Southwest homeowners. “The trend in doors is that everything is going to bi-fold or pocket systems,” said Lance Young, sales manager for Weather Shield in Southern California and Las Vegas. “People want to transfer easily from indoors to outdoors. They want to return to nature as much as possible.”

Marvin Windows & Doors displayed a bi-fold exterior door, but also highlighted its Ultimate In-Swing French door with no center stile, as another way to open up an exterior wall to the outside. The in-swing styles are popular among buyers in some Northern climates where snow pile-up in the winter may prevent a door from swinging out.

No-center-stile French doors, currently popular among homeowners, call for some creative screening options, since there’s nothing in the middle to which the rolling screen can attach. Mirage Screens displayed an after-market screen option for these types of door systems that pulls in like window curtains from each side and connects in the middle with strong, non-ferrous magnets. In addition to performance upgrades to its magnetic latching system, the company also offers 45 colors to match existing building products. “I think people are becoming more aware of the retractable screen field,” says Ben Hume, president of Alco, maker of Mirage Screens. “People may want air conditioning during the day but fresh air in the evenings. It’s not so much an energy savings thing, but just plain personal comfort.”

Weather Shield highlighted some upgrades in hardware performance with its 7-foot tall casement window display. As the wood window market calls for bigger and bigger windows, the company designed a casement that functions almost like a swinging door on a three-butt hinge. The window still operates with a crank but the additional weight of the large panes of glass rests on the hinges. “Wood windows are getting bigger, so we’re showing them bigger,” said Young.

Milgard showcased higher-performing hardware on its Montecito and Tuscany vinyl window lines with its SmartTouch lock, a latching device that also doubles as a slider handle.

Windsor Windows & Doors’ show representatives said builders are increasingly aware that different products deliver different levels of performance, and they aren’t shy about grilling sales personnel on the details. “People are really conscious these days about performance,” says Scott Renke, western division sales manager of Windsor. “They’re asking about what types of wood we’re using and where it comes from. They’re specifying alder, for example, to match cabinets, trim and interior doors, and they want to know it will perform as an exterior door.”

As PCBC is a staple event for many West Coast builders, Windsor and many other exhibitors tailored booths to reflect Western tastes in style and preferences in performance. “This is the first year we’re showing products specific to the West,” Renke says. “We’ve tailored our performance and aesthetic message to high-end custom home builders and architects serving this market.”

PCBC organizers expected a crowd of about 30,000 attendees this year to visit more than 700 exhibitors. Next year’s event will be June 25-27 at the Mascone Center in San Francisco. For more information, visit http://www.pcbc.comCL


Contact Christina Lewellen, senior editor, at clewellen@glass.org.