Is grey the new white?

Over recent years the trend for coloured windows and doors has taken off, and if there’s one RAL number that anyone in this industry can quote it’s 7016. Glass Times features editor Rebecca Clegg has been speaking to companies from across the industry to find out more.

Grey (anthracite grey in particular) has become a huge trend in home improvements, not just in windows and doors. Take a look on Instagram or Pinterest and it’s hard to get away from a sea of cool grey interiors; everything from sofas to wallpaper to carpets is now bathed in this popular neutral shade that seems to have become ‘the new magnolia’.

In fact, such is the popularity of grey, it would be easy to assume that it is now the most popular colour for windows and doors, leaving white in its wake and other colours trailing in the distance. Is this true? And is it true of all materials, markets and geographical areas?

In Scotland at least, figures from the Saveheat Group’s PVCU fabrication company, Merlin Network, show that white is still king, accounting for 67% of sales and, interestingly, rosewood outsells anthracite by some 14% compared to 9%.

Colin Torley, sales and operations director for the Saveheat Group, said: “As you can see from the figures, for us, white PVCU is still what makes up the majority of our sales, and in terms of colours it is basically the rosewoods and the golden oaks. Any anthracite that we sell goes to the new build market but is not something that we see being used often for the replacement market here in Scotland.

“As far as colours are concerned we don’t tend to push them and are not being asked for them. Of course, we have done the odd jobs in Chartwell green etc but these are very few and far between. We do not think that we are losing this business to anyone else and at the moment we cannot cope with the total volume we have.

“The industry seems to be caught up in this and in my view there are too many colours being offered.”

So, in Scotland at least, the grey trend may not be as popular as we might think. This could be due to the roughcast finish on so many of the Scottish properties which is common in shades of cream and yellow and would simply not suit a grey window frame. Colin doesn’t believe that the cost of foils is restrictive – it is simply not something that is as popular with the Scottish market.

Speaking to north-west based aluminium systems company Kawneer, and the landscape is very different. Mark Hanson, marketing manager, explained that sales are 60% grey and 35% white, with black and other colours making up the remaining 5%.

“Colour is still very important in the home improvement sector and for us, grey is still the new white,” Mark said.

“As aluminium tends to be powder coated, generally it really doesn’t matter what RAL is applied, the price and lead time are the same – so cost is not a factor in these statistics. In terms of trends, texture is an interesting one. As PVCU systems start to offer smooth foil as opposed to woodgrain, there is demand in aluminium for a textured finish which is perceived to be more forgiving and robust than a matt or gloss paint finish. Metallic colours are another area where aluminium can score with a point of difference also.”

Of course, with sales of coloured windows and doors, coloured hardware goes hand-in-hand.

Richard Gyde, managing director at Mila, said: “In terms of hardware, colour is still gaining in popularity. Sales of coloured hardware – from handles to hinges – are driven almost entirely by sales of coloured doors and windows and there’s no sign of that slowing down.

“On our Grip Colour handle and our ProLinea espag, it is still anthracite all the way. In fact, on our ProSecure door hinge, anthracite outsells all the other colours we offer by about four to one, with cream a very distant second.”

It seems that while colour, and grey in particular, is still very popular – especially in aluminium – there is still a huge market for white in the PVCU sector. While colour certainly offers an opportunity for installers selling replacement windows to upsell, and for new-build developments to set themselves apart as more top-end – there is always going to be a market for the ‘bread and butter’ white PVCU and this, it seems, should not be overlooked.