Momentum Returning Slowly for Window and Door Sales

New report sees modest increases in 2011 and stronger growth ahead
A presentation of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association
June 10, 2011
FEATURE ARTICLE | Statistics, Markets & Trends

Residential window sales are expected to inch up once again this year, following a modest recovery in 2010, according to a new report from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association. Offering projections through 2014, the study foresees remodeling/replacement sales rebounding over the next few years. The new construction market is expected to improve, but will fall far short of pre-recessionary levels. 

The nonresidential fenestration industry faces a tougher year ahead. Prepared by Ducker Worldwide, the AAMA/WDMA 2010/2011 U.S. Industry Statistical Review and Forecast predicts sales will continue to fall this year before a modest recovery begins next year. Larger gains will come in  2013 and 2014.

The AAMA/WDMA study features historical data for 2005 through 2010 and forecasts for 2011 through 2014 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.

Residential Market
Total housing starts increased in 2010 after four consecutive years of declines. Increases, however, were more modest than expected and the housing market continues to be affected by high inventory, credit and financing issues and high unemployment, according to Ducker. The housing recovery is projected to continue, but at a slow initial pace for 2011.  Much of that growth will come in multi-family units, with the single-family segment remaing flat.

After a 6 percent improvement in 2010 and another 3 percent uptick in 2011, a more significant increase of 28 percent is projected for total housing starts in 2012. The study forecasts continued strong gains for 2013 and 2014 as the new home market returns to more long-term trends driven by demographics and household formation. Coming off a low of just over 600,000 starts in 2009, the total new housing market, including manufactured housing, is predicted to nearly double, reaching 1.25 million units in 2014. It will remain nearly 1 million units shy of the 2.2 million peak of 2005, however.

The remodeling and replacement market should recover more fully. The Ducker study points to estimates and projections from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. It says residential improvement expenditures increased about 3 percent in 2010 to $116.5 billion on the heels of three straight years of decline. Looking out to 2011 and beyond, this market is predicted to grow about 5 percent annually. Residential improvement expenditures should reach about $143 billion by 2014, a figure close to the previous 2006 peak of $145 billion. 

Window and Door Shipments
Demand for windows increased 7 percent to 41.6 million units last year after four years of precipitous decline (Table 1).  Ducker reports that remodeling and replacement sales accounted for much of last year's gains. Shipments in that segment increased 8 percent thanks in part to tax incentives for energy efficienty products. Window shipments for new construction increased as well, but only 3 percent.

Looking ahead, the report predicts window sales for new construction will be fairly flat for 2011, with more substantial gains coming in 2012 and beyond. With small tax incentives available, the remodeling and replacement segment is expect to increase only slightly in 2011, but will return to its long-term growth trend of about 5 percent a year after that.

Table 1Source: Ducker Worldwide, FForecast

The study highlights continued growth in vinyl's market share away from wood and aluminum windows. With share gains in both new construction and remodeling/repair, vinyl windows sales overall are predicted to reach new highs by 2014. Ducker predicts vinyl window shipments will reach 40.9 million units, topping a previous high of 40.6 milion units in 2005.  Fiberglass is growing at a rate similar to vinyl, while "other" window types are enjoying larger sales, particularly in new construction applications, the report notes.   

Other Residential Products
Looking at other residential products, the AAMA/WDMA study suggests doors and skylights grew at a slightly slower pace than residential windows.  Improvement in both new construction and remodeling/replacement increased residential entry door volumes by a little more than 5 percent in 2010 and similar sales gains are expected for 2011. Interior door volumes increased about the same percentage last year, but the report forecasts sales will increase at a slightly stronger rate for 2011 (Fig.1).

Patio door shipments increased more than 6 percent in 2010, with vinyl products enjoying an even larger increase thanks in part to energy tax credits and new construction market growth. Ducker currently projects vinyl patio doors will account for about half the market by 2014. Fiberglass is also expected to gain market share in the patio door segment over the next several years, although it is not expect to reach the near 40 percent market share predicted in the entry door segment. 

Overall, patio door sales are expected to increase only moderately this year, with double-digit growth predicted for 2012 and 2013. 

Fig. 1Source: Ducker Worldwide, FForecast

Storm door volumes increased about 5 percent last year, driven by remodeling activity and single-family home sales. Single-digit growth is projected for this segment over the next few years.

The AAMA/WDMA report shows residential skylight sales declining more precipitously than windows and doors during the housing bust and recession, but a rebound has begun in this segment too. The new construction market continued to produce fewer skylight sales in 2010, but demand in remodeling and replacement applications was up nearly 20 percent last year, according to the study.  With growth expected in both new construction and the remodeling/replacement markets over the next few years, Ducker predicts residential skylight sales once again topping the millon unit mark by 2013.

Nonresidential markets
The downturn that came to the residential window market came a couple years before the decline in the nonresidential window business. That market is still in decline, according to the AAMA/WDMA study, with sales falling off nearly 20 percent overall in both 2009 and 2010.  It will be 2012 before the recovery becomes evident in the nonresidential market.

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 and another 18 percent in 2010.  Those declines are reflected in continued drops in nonresidential window sales last year and this year.  

Coming off a peak of more than 500 million square feet of vision area in 2008, nonresidential window sales are now expected to bottom out in 2011 after dropping more than 40 percent. A slight upturn in the market is predicted for 2012, with sales gaining more momentum in the following years. Nonresidential entry and interior door sales are expected to follow a similar pattern.  

More Comprehensive Market Data Available

The 2010/2011 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 2009/2010 Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights (released in May 2010), includes the Statistical Review and Forecast, as well as the following additional reports that can be ordered separately. AAMA/WDMA U.S. Market Studies includes all of the items listed below:

  • AAMA/WDMA U.S. Industry Statistical Review and Forecast summarizes residential, nonresidential and remodeling trends from government and industry sources.
  • AAMA/WDMA U.S. Industry Channel Distribution Report profiles the residential and nonresidential market for windows and doors as it flows through the identified distribution channels.
  • AAMA/WDMA U.S. Industry Market Size Report quantifies residential and nonresidential market volumes for different types of windows, doors and skylights, both historic and projected.
  • AAMA/WDMA U.S. Market Installation Practices and Procedures Reportcompiles the results of a special research effort to evaluate installation products and procedures.
  • AAMA/WDMA U.S. Industry Regional Statistical Review and Forecast details information for 11 individual regions.