What Dealers Supply in the Remodeling/Replacement Market

2008 Supply Chain Study examines what’s being sold along with windows and doors
John G. Swanson
November 11, 2008
SPECIAL FEATURES | Products, Channels

When dealers and distributors sell windows and doors for remodeling and replacement applications,
it’s rare to only sell windows and doors. At the least, a variety of services—ranging from consultations
to installation—go with those products. And it’s certainly not unusual to see windows and doors sold in a package that also includes siding, millwork, and a variety of other products.

With our 2008 Supply Chain Study, Window & Door set out to get a better handle on what products and services are sold today along with windows and doors in the remodeling and replacement markets. Given the fact that windows and/or doors are sold by various specialists and by companies carrying broader building product lines, we found, not surprisingly, quite a mix. Demand for services
also continues to grow.

The following report presents highlights from our 2008 study, based on an email survey of 50 Window & Door and WDweekly subscribers that sell doors and/or windows for remodeling and/or replacemeznt applications. Respondents were asked to classify their companies in one of eight categories, with most describing their operations as specialty dealers of windows and doors (56 percent). Respondents also classified themselves as lumberyards (10 percent), specialty
millwork distributors and home improvement dealers (8 percent each), door shops/prehangers (6 percent), and multi-location/multi-line pro dealers, glass shops, and shortline
distributors (4 percent each). Survey respondents were asked about their business mix between the remodeling and replacement segments. The breakdown follows:

  • Split fairly evenly between remodeling and replacement—24 percent
  • Primarily replacement only—18 percent
  • Split, but more replacement-only jobs—28 percent
  • Primarily general remodeling projects—10 percent
  • Split, more general remodeling—20 percent

The survey also asked about customer mix. Respondents said the following:

  • Split fairly evenly between homeowners and professionals—24 percent
  • Primarily direct to homeowners—26 percent
  • Split, but more direct to homeowners—16 percent
  • Split, but more to remodelers/dealers—18 percent
  • Primarily to remodelers/dealers—16 percent


Asked about the windows and doors provided to their largest customer group, nearly two thirds of the respondents (63 percent) indicated they typically sold between 10 and 20 windows per home (Fig. 1). Nearly a quarter said they sell less than 10 windows per job. Interestingly enough, this year’s study suggests significantly fewer windows are sold in each remodeling and/or replacement job than in each new construction job.

Last year, Window & Door’s Supply Chain Study asked the same question regarding the average sale to builder customers. More than half the respondents surveyed in that study said they typically sold more than 20 windows per home. The lower number in the remodeling/replacement segment probably reflects the fact that jobs in this segment may often not be “whole house” jobs, as well as the fact that many older homes are smaller than many constructed today.

The same discrepancy is evident in doors. This year, about 15 percent of respondents indicated the typical sale they make includes more than two patio doors. In the new construction market survey, that figure was over 40 percent. For entry and other exterior doors, less than 7 percent of this year’s respondents indicated they typically supply more than two per job, whereas that total was around 20 percent in last year’s study focusing on sales to builders. Of those who sold interior doors, last year 28 percent indicated they typically sold more than 20 per home, compared to only 3 percent this year.

Products Sold
The survey next asked, “For the type of customer that accounts for your largest remodeling and/or replacement window/door/skylight/sunroom sales volume, what products are typically in the package you sell? Patio and entry doors scored highest as the most common element in these dealer/distributor packages, with over 40 percent of respondents indicating these products were part of the sale “all the time.” If “some of the time” and “all the time” responses are combined, however, windows scored highest, with 98 percent of respondents reporting they sell these products, followed closely by patio doors at 96 percent. Entry doors and “door and specialty hardware” scored next highest on the “all the time/some of the time” scale, with 88 percent of dealer/distributor respondents indicating they were part of their typical sale all or some of the time.

More than half the respondents indicated that skylights, interior doors, and interior and exterior trim components were part of their remodeling/replacement packages at least some of the time. Looking at other window and door products, it’s clear that both sunrooms/patio enclosures and garage doors are part of some window and door companies’ lines, but those distributors and dealers are in the minority. It would appear both those lines have thtttaeir own “specialty dealers.”

Looking beyond different types of windows and doors, respondents indicated that a wide variety of building products can be supplied in the same package. The most closely-related products, not surprisingly, were named most often. As noted, door and other specialty hardware was part of over 80 percent of these firm’s sales at least some of the time, and results indicate flashing materials and sealants are part of the package at least some of the time for over 70 percent of respondents.
The survey indicates the broader product ranges offered by some dealers and distributors.

Reflecting the more diverse “one-stop shopping” product lines offered by shortline distributors, multi-location pro dealers, home improvement dealers and local lumberyards, siding is part of the package some or all of the time for over 40 percent of respondents. Over 30 percent of respondents indicated the same for roofing, framing lumber and glass and mirror products. The survey didn’t ask about the kitchen sink, but nearly 20 percent say kitchen cabinets are part of their remodeling packages at least some of the time.

Services Offered
Along with window and door products, dealers and distributors also supply a broad array of services. In the arena of jobsite delivery and preparation of orders or take-offs, many customers probably don’t even consider it a service, but just a “given.” Over 70 percent of respondents indicated they are part of the package “all the time,” with nearly 100 percent indicating its part of the sale at least some of the time. Slightly fewer indicated a “showroom for homeowners” or “consultation for homeowners” was part of the package all the time, but again nearly 100 percent reported those are part of the job at least some of the time.

Installation is a big part of the package for many dealers, of course, but not all. Forty two percent indicated window installation is part of the sale “all the time” and another 36 percent said they do it at least “some of the time.” Percentages for doors were slightly lower, but door installation is part of the package at least some of the time for over 70 percent of the respondents. With a relatively smaller percentage of respondents indicating they sell skylights, sunrooms and patio enclosures, the survey indicates that those who are involved in these lines are often involved with installation.

Comparing this year’s survey with last year’s study looking at sales to builders, it’s clear installation is more commonly part of the dealer package in the remodeling/replacement arena. Window installation and door installation were part of the builder package “all the time” for about 20 percent of respondents last year. Window installation and door installation are part of the remodeling/ replacement package “all the time” for 40 percent and 36 percent of this year’s respondents, respectively. The “some of the time” percentages are slightly higher this year also.

Trimming out and finishing windows and doors is also more commonly part of the remodeling replacement package. About 50 percent indicated interior and exterior trim installation was part of the package they sold at least some of the time this year. Less than 25 percent of the respondents last year indicated interior or exterior trim installation was part of their package for builders. As was the case in the builder survey, painting and finishing installed products is not part of the standard package in the replacement and remodeling, although it should be noted that many windows and doors simply don’t need it to be done at the dealer/distributor level.

Changes in Buying Habits
The 2008 Supply Chain Study survey not only asked window and door dealers about the products and services they offer, but whether they were seeing changes in the market. About 40 percent of those surveyed involved in windows, patio doors and entry doors said remodeling and replacement customers were buying these products “from us more often.” About 10 percent said windows were being bought from “other channels more often,” while 15 percent reported the same for patio doors and 19 percent reported that for entry doors. The remainder indicated no changes were taking place for those products. More respondents—nearly 30 percent—indicated that interior doors and skylights were being purchased from “other channels more often.”

Asked which products they were putting more sales efforts into, 94 percent indicated they were increasing efforts for windows. Entry doors scored next highest at 74 percent, followed by patio doors at 69 percent, garage doors at 56 percent and interior doors at 53 percent. More than half the respondents also indicated they were increasing sales efforts for interior trim and millwork products anda door and specialty hardware.

Survey respondents indicated remodeling and replacement customers are generally looking for more on the service end. More than half the respondents say customers “want/expect” window installation more often. The biggest shift may be occurring in the showroom arena, however, where nearly 60 percent of dealers report that customers “want/expect” that more often. Over 40 percent indicate growing demand for homeowner consultations, order preparation/take-offs, job-site delivery, field service and door installation. It’s interesting to note that although painting and finishing are not part of the standard remodeling/replacement package for many dealers, more than 40 percent of those surveyed also reported they see increased demand for those services as well.

Tables breaking out responses to all questions in the remodeling/replacement survey can be downloaded below. Readers interested in our 2007 Window & Door Supply Chain Study focusing on the builder package can click here to read that article.