Product Trends: Eyes of the Home

by Kyle Clapham

With today’s housing market booming, supply is low and prices are extremely high, leading many homeowners to stay put and remodel. Whether it’s finding ways to soundproof their new offices to create work-from-home peace of mind or to increase energy efficiency, many homeowners are updating their windows as their next remodeling project.

Bigger Is Better

As has been the trend for the last couple of years, homeowners are choosing to update their homes with new windows that are taller and wider and have fewer sight lines than ever.

“Room heights have gotten taller over the last decade,” says Jenn Teutken, senior manager of innovation and design for Pella. “The standard used to be 8-foot ceiling heights. Now, we’re at 10 to 12 feet on average. So, we’re seeing really big windows, larger windows and corner windows being something that’s highly desirable.”

“People are looking for views, and [homeowners] are going so far as to cut a new hole in the wall to make the unit bigger,” says Josh Willard, director of products for MI Windows and Doors. “We’re seeing a lot more picture windows than we had in the past being sold.”

kolbewindows.com

Especially as homeowners have been staying at home more during the last two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they’re looking for ways to increase the amount of natural light that comes into their homes while also making spaces seem larger and expanding their views of the outdoors. “With our corner windows, we have some of the smallest sight-lines in history,” says Teutken, referring to the Pella Reserve Contemporary Corner Window, “which helps bring in that natural light. Having that big expansive glass helps elevate your moods and general well-being within the house.”

Nick Pesl, displays and product information manager for Kolbe, agrees with Teutken that corner windows are becoming very popular. “They help make a smaller room feel much larger.”

Even more than simply committing to bigger windows, window walls are a trend to look out for in the new year, says Annie Zipfel, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Andersen. “Replacing blank walls with views of nature, abundant sunlight and fresh breezes delivers on the desire for healthier homes while also creating ideal entertaining spaces.”

Kolbe window walls are trending, replacing blank walls with views of nature and allowing maximum natural light in. | kolbewindows.com

Transitional Spaces

Windows offer views into the outdoor spaces, spaces that people have been returning to and expanding over the last two years of the ongoing pandemic. “There’s a huge trend in combined indoor/outdoor living with a lot of outdoor kitchens and pools and that sort of stuff,” says Steve Hoffins, vice president of marketing for Cornerstone Building Brands.

These transitional windows may include “pass-through” kitchen windows, Pesl explains, “so that you can pass food and drink through them for outdoor entertaining.” He says he’s seeing more demand for this emphasis on the outdoors, which goes hand-in-hand with bringing the natural light and natural world into the home.

Though not windows, large glass door units are increasingly popular for the same reasons as larger windows: They offer wide views and let in a lot of natural light while also opening up living spaces to the outdoors more directly. “Sliding and folding doors have been a trend for the last few years,” Pesl says. “I don’t see it ending any time soon.”

“We affectionately referred to the 2021 product launch as ‘The Year of the Door,’” says Malorie Drugg, director of marketing and go-to-market strategist for Marvin. “In our signature collection, we have the Ultimate Swinging Door. As style preferences evolve, our swinging door evolved as well. So, this new offering here brings clean lines and has a 3-inch sill and rail and a very simplified aesthetic.”

Weather Shield windows & Doors Contemporary Collection and Premium Series aluminum-clad wood windows and patio doors offer narrow profiles to help ensure expansive, unobstructed views that seamlessly connect living spaces with the outdoors. | weathershield.com
MI Windows: As people expand their indoor-outdoor spaces, glass doors such as the Multi-Slide Door from MI open a space visually and physically. | miwindows.com

A Return to the Natural

Black continues to dominate the aesthetics homeowners are pursuing, whether it be vinyl, fiberglass or painted wood frames. Ashley Ridenour, product marketing manager for doors and windows at ProVia, explains this trend is especially popular with those who are seeking craftsman, modern or modern farmhouse styles. “Black complements other colors nicely,” she says. For this reason, ProVia’s Aeris and Endure painted windows are becoming increasingly popular.

“Everyone’s been putting black in,” Hoffins says. “But we’re starting to see a shift away from pure black to some of our darker colors.” White has never gone away and likely still accounts for 80 to 90 percent of windows sold. Tans and dark browns, he adds, are gaining in popularity—especially bronze. “Bronze is actually a really strong color for us,” he notes.

Willard agrees, calling black and bronze MI Windows’ “high users,” saying, “We’re actually still
seeing a pretty significant boost in color, especially out West. We just this past year launched a black-on-black solution, and it’s taken off. So we’ll do black, we’ll do bronze, and then we have some kind of complementary colors that can be ordered that don’t move as much.”

Even though professionals aren’t seeing a drastic decline in the use of black and whites as the primary window colors, Teutken is seeing a shift. “There’s a visual aesthetic preference shift that’s occurring in the marketplace. Modern farmhouse is absolutely still around, but we’re seeing it translate away from crisp, clean white and blacks to warmer tones in color,” she says. Teutken believes that a big reason behind this shift is due to the ongoing pandemic and homeowners’ desire to return to things that are “more grounded, more authentic, have more heritage and convey long-term ownership.”

The Marvin Skycove

Emily Finley, creative director for Marvin, says the company looks toward a combination of Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics for inspiration, and that wood has had a huge impact on what Marvin is looking at. “A lot of people lean towards that minimalism and modernism, but I think they like the warmth that comes with wood, because a lot of modern design can be reflected as cold or stark and industrial.”

In line with curating and creating character in one’s home, Zipfel and Teutken are both seeing arched and circle windows coming back into style. “They’re a welcome contrast to the straight lines and right angles that make up most houses,” Zipfel says. “Their organic shape fits in with a design ethos that’s more grounded in nature.”

As an accent, wood has become more popular as people return to natural, grounded aesthetics in the midst of the pandemic. | marvin.com
PROVIA Aeris and Endure black windows are increasingly popular as modern farmhouse and contemporary styles continue to reign. | provia.com
Alside Mezzo Full Frame replacement system featuring Trimworks can save time as well as labor on-site and create a uniform look across the house. | alside.com
Andersen Windows round and arched windows add a touch of whimsy to an otherwise boxed, square aesthetic and bring character to a home. | andersenwindows.com

Better for the Planet

There’s also a sustainability piece that is at the forefront of so many homeowners’ minds as they make choices that will affect not just their homes but also the planet.

“If you think about what we’ve been going through with the environment, and thinking through sustainability and seeing that kind of swing up in understanding, you know, ‘What is my overall impact? What is my home’s impact to the broader good?’ Wood is a renewable source. And so, people are gravitating back to it,” Teutken says.

Energy requirements are also forcing homeowners to make choices for their windows that they may not have made in the past. “I think the bar is consistently being raised,” says Shawn Hardy, senior vice president and general manager of integrated products at Alside. “Whether it’s nationally, with programs like Energy Star through the EPA, or local or statewide initiatives to really improve energy efficiency, we’re always seeing that bar being raised.”

For many years, double-paned glass was the ideal window solution for energy efficiency, but Hoffins says he’s seeing more homeowners invest in triple-paned glass, which has the added benefit of reducing outside noise as well. But adding extra panes isn’t the only solution on the market. “There are different coatings, lamination and tints for sun reflection, or others that allow the sun in the winter when you want it to heat your house but reflect it in the summer to keep your house cool,” he says.

“I think the last stat I saw was that Energy Star rated windows can save between 7 to 15 percent of an energy bill,” Hoffins says.

“We’re seeing vinyl going into higher price-pointed homes than we have in the past,” Tindell says. Vinyl continues to be a top choice among homeowners who want reasonably priced, low-maintenance windows. | windsorwindows.com

Supply and Demand

It would be impossible to talk about any product trend right now without addressing the supply constraints facing the market at large.

“The entire industry is strained regardless of the commodity type,” says Bill Tindell, director of marketing and product development for Windsor Windows & Doors.

“Our lead times went from one week, stretching out to where they maxed at 12 weeks,” Willard says. “The challenging part, the order intake, has stabilized; however, there’s such a backlog that you can’t necessarily reduce lead times.” He adds that as the weather warms up in the spring, those times may stretch longer as more people look to renovate.

Hardy says that while Alside has not faced the glass shortages other companies have faced, a shortage of hardware has been more of a problem. “We’ve had to ramp up our communications efforts because of these supply chain disruptions,” he says. “Sometimes it’s just as simple as, ‘Hey, we didn’t get the parts from our supplier at the timeline that they said they were going to,’ or whatever the cause may be. We’ve tried to really increase the frequency of our communication to customers.”

One way that Alside is combating the labor shortage is through their Mezzo Full Frame Replacement System, which features Trimworks. “It speeds up the installation process and makes teams more efficient. We make the trim at the same time as we make the window; we weld it together and [contractors] can just snap it on once the window’s installed. It doesn’t take long to learn how to do that, and the homeowner gets a consistent look on every window in their home.”

“Probably the biggest challenge we’re facing is labor shortages,” Tindell explains. “This is no surprise to anyone in the industry. We’re trying various avenues, thinking outside the box to not only bring in employees but also retain them. I think employee retention is probably more important than ever knowing that how hard it is to get people once you get them; you need to make sure you’re taking care of them and you keep them.”

Working with Contractors

When it comes to working with contractors, each manufacturer has a slightly different approach; but many are finding, especially as in-person training has been unavailable or limited in the last two years, that online video libraries are invaluable.

“We’re actually right on the cusp rolling out a new program for the Simonton Pro Network that will have enhanced marketing and selling and training tools,” Hoffins says. “It has a variety of tools available, such as educational tools to help contractors install and make sure they’re meeting professional standards. It also has some marketing support tools to help you be a better contractor and generate leads, and even help with digital marketing assets.”

Marvin has a big focus on education in 2022, Drugg says. “We are launching a new LMS, learning management system, where we can do individual e-learning, as well as broadcasting on a weekly basis to our trade and dealer partners on different products or installation programs that they might want. We’re doing some in person when we can safely. We’re trying to create this hybrid of opportunities.” She adds that they have a link to all their installation videos live on YouTube available to anyone, with a process for submitting requests for other installation videos. “We want our products installed correctly just as much as the builder wants to install them correctly.” QR

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