The Rebound Begins for Window and Door Sales

New study sees residential product sales increasing steadily through 2013, with vinyl products enjoying biggest gains
A presentation from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association
July 16, 2010
FEATURE ARTICLE | Statistics, Markets & Trends

After four years of declines, residential window sales should begin to recover this year, according to a new report from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association. The report foresees gains through 2013, when industry sales will near pre-housing crisis levels.  

Prepared by Ducker Worldwide, the AAMA/WDMA 2009/2010 U.S. Industry Statistical Review and Forecast predicts at least another year of decline in the nonresidential market. After significant declines in 2009, contract awards are expected to be flat in 2010 before recovering next year. This translates into lower demand for commercial fenestration products through 2011.

Total housing starts in 2009 were at their lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking the number in 1959, according to Ducker. For 2010, the downward spiral of the past several years is expected to end, with starts forecast to increase by 16 percent, led by single family starts. The rebound will continue into 2013.  Ducker expects total starts to reach 1.64 million that year, significantly up from the 600,000 low of 2009, but still off the 2 million-plus levels of 2004 and 2005.  

Although they are starting at historic lows, single family starts will more than double from 444,000 in 2009 to 1.16 million in 2013.  Manufactured home shipments will see similar gains, while multifamily housing starts are predicted to triple over the same period, according to the AAMA/WDMA report. Looking at the market regionally, Ducker notes that both single- and multi-family starts saw steep declines across the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.  All four regions are expected to recover during the next few years also. 

The remodeling and replacement market continued to slip downward in 2009, but Ducker foresees recovery in this segment as well. The study points to estimates and projections from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, which anticipates residential improvement expenditures increasing about 5 percent in 2010 to $121.5 billion.  Looking out to 2013, this market is predicted to see a more robust rebound than new housing and surpass previous peak levels.  Expenditures in 2010 are predicted to top $150 billion, compared to a previous 2006 peak of $143 billion. 

Window and Door Shipments
Continued declines in both the new construction and remodeling/replacement markets produced another 20 percent decline in window and door shipments in 2009.  As noted, the AAMA/WDMA study pegs residential window demand to increase about 10 percent this year to 43 million units (Table 1).  With steady improvement predicted, sales in the remodeling/replacement segment are projected to hit new highs by 2013.  The new construction market will also grow, although Ducker does not see sales in that segment reaching the previous peak of 34 million units in 2005. 

Table 1Source: Ducker Worldwide, FForecast

The study highlights continued a shift in market share away from wood and aluminum windows to vinyl. With that shift, vinyl window sales overall are predicted to reach new highs by 2012.  Ducker predicts vinyl window shipments will reach 45.9 million units and enjoy a market share of about 67 percent  in 2013.  At the window market's previous peak in 2005, vinyl window shipments reached 40.6 million units, representing about 58 percent of total residential window sales.  

Other Residential Products
Looking at other residential products, Ducker indicates that patio door shipments generally follow similar patterns to windows.  The report notes, however, that recent declines in the new construction and remodeling/replacement segments had a slightly larger impact on patio door sales percentage-wise.  With new construction accounting for a larger portion of the market, the rebound in patio door sales is also not expected to be quite as strong. 

Overall, patio door sales are supposed to be up 9 percent in 2010 and about 25 percent in 2011.  Entry door sales are not expected to increase as much, remaining fairly flat this year and then increasing about 15 percent (Fig. 1) next year.  Residential interior doors are also expected to increase only slightly this year before seeing bigger gains in 2011. 

Fig. 1Source: Ducker Worldwide, FForecast

As is the case with windows, vinyl will likely enjoy the strongest growth in the patio door market, exceeding pre-downturn sales levels by 2012. Fiberglass will also experience strong gains in the patio door segment. Steel maintains the leading market share in residential entry doors, but fiberglass is predicted to see continued gains in that product category. By 2013, the AAMA/WDMA report sees fiberglass accounting for nearly 40 percent ot the market.  Wood doors, it is noted, have found a stable, high-end niche and are likely to maintain a steady market share, the study points out.

Residential skylight sales have dropped more significantly than windows and doors, according to the study.  The decrease is attributed partially to the slowdown in  new construction and remodeling.  In a tough market, builders look for ways to cut costs, holding off on discretionary products like skylights, the report notes.  Growth is expected again in 2010, with skylights beginning a return to more historic usage levels over the next few years, Ducker predicts.

Nonresidential markets
Unlike the residential market, the nonresidential window business continued to see sales gains into 2008, according to the AAMA/WDMA study.  Last year, however, sales fell off nearly 20 percent overall, with another smaller decline expected in 2011.

Ducker bases its nonresidential projections on contract awards, which reflect activity related to new nonresidential construction and major additions to existing structures. Actual fenestration demand typically lags contract awards by up to one year or more, it notes. The deep recession reduced contract award totals about 40 percent in 2009, impacting to a lesser extent more resilient categories like education and heathcare, the study notes.  Another slight drop is expected this year.

With these declines, nonresidential glazing demand is predicted to retreat from a peak of 542 million square feet in 2008 to just 301 million square feet in 2011. Growth is then expected to resume. 

Nonresidential entry and interior door sales are expected to follow a similar pattern, with sharp declines expected for this year, before a relatively flat 2011 and some recovery in 2012. 

The AAMA/WDMA study features historical data for 2004 through 2009 and forecasts for 2010 through 2013 based on projections of construction activity and appropriate usage factors developed by Ducker Worldwide. The database for the study's information has been compiled from a number of sources, including the Census Bureau, and association member and non-member companies.

More Comprehensive Market Data Available

The 2009/2010 U.S. Industry Statistical Review & Forecast highlighted in this article is an annual report prepared by Ducker Worldwide as part of a comprehensive project jointly sponsored by AAMA and WDMA. The annual statistical review features national overview data on a variety of residential and nonresidential products. Information about purchasing the report, offered in PDF format, can be obtained by contacting:

In addition to the annual study, a more comprehensive market report is produced bi-annually. The full 2010 report combines the Market Size Report, the National Statistical Review, the Channel Distribution Report, a compilation of eleven Regional Statistical Reviews, and the Installation Practices and Procedures Report.  The Market Size Report quantifies residential and nonresidential market volumes both historic and projected. Study findings include data on new construction and remodeling by building category. Windows, doors, skylights, patio doors, storm windows and doors, U.S. construction activity, market size and projected growths are detailed and segmented into geographic areas.  The Channel Distribution Report profiles the U.S. market for residential windows and doors as it flows through the identified distribution channels. The Installation Practices and Procedures Report summarizes the results of a special research effort to evaluate installation products and procedures specific to the window and door market.  Available for $3,300 by contacting AAMA or WDMA, the full report is sold in Adobe Acrobat files to make navigation and printing very easy with links, thumbnails and search options.