A new golden age for aluminium?

Nigel Headford
Nigel Headford

Are you ready for the renewed interest in aluminium, asks Deceuninck Aluminium’s director, Nigel Headford.

The rise in popularity in aluminium as a profile material has been steady over the last decade and a half, driven by factors including easier access by the domestic market, improved thermal performance, and the popularity of bi-folding doors – to name a few.

But with recent upheavals in the PVC-U sector, we are starting to see an even greater interest in aluminium windows and doors, according to Deceuninck Aluminium’s director, Nigel Headford.

“Since the announcement by Duraflex of its withdrawal from the window industry, we’ve experienced a definite uptick in the number of conversations with window fabricators about the Decalu range of windows and doors,” Nigel says. “And these are not about companies simply wanting to broaden their product ranges, they are making strategic decisions about the future of their businesses.”

In a statement, Duraflex said challenges, which include the soaring costs of raw materials and energy, had made it no longer financially viable to continue manufacturing at Tewkesbury.

“Positioning PVC-U as a cheaper option to aluminium is losing its clout,” Nigel says. “And since we are seeing a greater share of work coming from higher value projects, then sourcing aluminium as a profile material starts to make even greater sense.

“In fact, I know of some fabricators who are dropping their volume PVC-U work altogether in favour of aluminium, because the numbers don’t add up on PVC-U.”

Nigel points out that these are not knee-jerk reactions to market forces, but the results of careful market research by fabricators.

“Fabricators are not interested in simply choosing a nice-looking aluminium bi-folding door, for example, they want a full aluminium range that will fit in with their production process, that can be fabricated quickly and easily, and which is straightforward to fit on site,” Nigel says. “All the while meeting the requirements for thermal efficiency, weather performance and security.”

Deceuninck Aluminium launched its Decalu88 bi-folding door in 2019, which was one of the most thermally efficient aluminium doors on the market. Since then, the firm has launched other suited products, including a lift-and-slide door, a tilt-and-turn, and the Decalu88 flush casement window.

“Today, homeowners are likely to take a whole house approach to refurbishment, and suite all products in one system,” Nigel says. “So, if it involves a bi-fold, then the choice of system is almost certainly going to be aluminium.

“Having that suite of products is crucial,” Nigel says, “but where we win further plaudits is with the modular approach – we’ve kept stockholding to an absolute minimum.

“Beads, for example, are uniform across all products in the Decalu range, which not only means that less money is tied up in stock for fabricators, but there is less chance for error on site. Also, because those beads are pre-gasketed, hours can be shaved off a typical install.”

Nigel reflects that one particular success story for Deceuninck Aluminium was the Decalu163 lift-and-slide door.

“While PVC-U never really made it in the bi-folding world, it has always had a strong foothold in patio sliders,” Nigel explains. “So, when we designed the Decalu163 lift-and-slide, we had to go big with our designs.

Deceuninck Aluminium’s ultra-energy efficient Decalu163 lift-and-slide door can achieve U-values as low as 1.3W/m2K double-glazed making it Part L-compliant for home improvement without having to go to triple-glazed units, saving installers a massive amount of weight in handling.

The aluminium lift-and-slide door is also Part L newbuild-compliant, achieving U-values of as low as 0.8W/m2K, which also means that it will meet the expected standard for newbuild from 2025 in the Future Homes Standard, in its current configuration.

Using a specially designed and highly engineered operating mechanism, the Decalu163 can accommodate weights of up to 400kg per sash, maximising design reach.

Individual sashes can be manufactured to 3,900mm by 2,500mm, which gives the Decalu163 lift-and-slide the design potential to be comfortably manufactured to span openings of up to 4,000mm by 3,500mm long on a single track; 4,000mm by 7,000mm on a twin track; and 4,000mm by 10,500mm on the triple track option.

In common with Deceuninck Aluminium’s wider offer, dual-colour and marine grade finishes are offered – as standard – simplifying pricing and guaranteeing performance regardless of where it’s fitted.

“Once a job is specced in Decalu, there are fewer reasons to attempt to convert it to PVC-U,” Nigel explains. “More fabricators are seeing the benefits of investing in aluminium, and I think we are seeing the start of a new golden age.”

Deceuninck Ltd
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