The Color of Success

By Eric Thompson, Quanex
June 14, 2017
THE TALK... | Markets & Trends

There are plenty of reasons why vinyl windows have come to dominate market share in new residential and multifamily construction. And there’s one reason I’ve been thinking about lately that’s simpler than you might think.

It’s not energy performance. It’s not price. It’s color. In markets throughout the country, the availability of color options in vinyl window systems as technology has matured has opened new opportunity for residential window fabricators.

The trend isn’t new but, in my estimation, it’s one that has come to full blossom in recent years. Back in 2007, Window & Door reported that vinyl color options were one avenue window manufacturers were taking to differentiate themselves in a down housing market. “Technologies for adding interior and exterior color have evolved to the point virtually any color or design can appear on vinyl,” the article noted. “Many in the industry agree that decorated vinyl—be it painted, laminated or co-extruded—is emerging beyond a small niche and finally catching momentum in the window and door world.”

Ten years later, I’ve found this to have become true. 

The market at large has grown more comfortable with PVC technology. Wariness around yellowing and cracking has subsided, and industry bodies like the American Architectural Manufacturers Association have spurred manufacturers to develop better compounds and better materials. With a residential window market that has become saturated with vinyl, manufacturers are willing and able to create some separation by going for color.

I’ve seen and heard the success stories. A Texas-based supplier of windows for new residential construction was able to gain significant new business by offering a new, in-demand color. Another customer in Georgia recently transitioned nearly 80 percent of its window offerings to almond and tan colors to suit demand. I’ve seen it happen throughout new residential construction, as well as in the light commercial and multifamily space.

But our industry—and the way we do business—is changing. Window manufacturers are seizing new technologies to redefine how they manufacture products, and a window manufacturer offering colored vinyl systems has plenty to consider in this regard. What technology is being used to deliver color options? Paint? Laminates? Co-extrusion?

Each method has its benefits, and each comes with considerations in the manufacturing process. And as floor operations change, it’s worth thinking hard about how color is being incorporated.

How have colored vinyl options affected your market? Has your organization recently started offering colored systems? Post a comment or drop a line and let us know.

Eric Thompson is a national account manager for Quanex Building Products. Email him at