Targeting the premium market

Your customers are paying close attention to the look of their windows, says MasterframechairmanAlan Burgess, whodevelopedtheTimberweldtechnology; fabricators and installers who get the details right are reaping the rewards.

Flush sash casement windows have taken the market by surprise. When the first PVCU versions appeared a few years ago, most saw them as a niche, timber-alternative windows purely for period properties or similar. But in fact their appeal is so wide that it’s hard to think of new build or replacement projects that wouldn’t look better with a flush casement. Homeowners love them, and installers are left in no doubt as to what sells.

Two years ago, research showed fabricators making flush casements were predicting these windows could eventually make up half the total casement market. Given their rapid adoption since, I believe flush sashes could become the norm, accounting for up to 80% of the market. Is that surprising? Given a choice, why wouldn’t you choose flush?

The sleek lines and flat surface appeal to modern tastes, but it’s a style that complements a variety of properties, from contemporary new builds through to period cottages. And homeowners love the classy, understated appearance of timber windows – a world away from the bulky white frames they associate with PVCU.

The premium end of the market is leading the way, driven by demand from ‘the haves’. These homeowners (generally over-55 and mortgage-free), want quality products that look great and add value to their property, and they’ll pay more to get flush casements that look right, inside and out. So, details matter.

Standard casement windows are welded and finished with a 45º corner groove. It’s not a particularly attractive look, but the benefits of a PVCU window outweigh its frankly utilitarian appearance. If that’s how it comes, you tend not to notice it after a while. But once homeowners have seen the alternative, ‘standard’ just doesn’t compare.

But how do you make timber-look butt-joints so installers can make their customers happy. And how do you do it as cost-effectively and easily as traditionallywelded frames?

Some methods produce a welded corner with a butt-joint look on the outside of the window only, and an ugly-as-usual groove on the inside. But for most homeowners, it’s the inside that matters because that’s what they see most of the time.

Alternatively, fabricators can mechanically joint by hand, but this is labour-intensive and slow, and isn’t as strong as welding. Bonding the glass to the profile results in a strong join, but you need skilled labour, so it’s expensive, and even more time-consuming. The weight of glass-bonded windows makes them heavy to transport and fit too, which can create problems for installers. What’s more, profiles are often left fully open-ended when mechanically jointed, and – unless these ends are closed in manufacturing – allow draughts, moisture and even small flies to get in. Not exactly the top quality the haves expect.

There is a solution, however. It’s a patented joint – the Timberweldjoint –developed to produce strong, perfectly welded corners with a butt-joint look on the inside and outside of the window. Manufacture is cost-effective at scale. Installation is easier too, with the glass units installed on site as usual. It does require a modest investment by fabricators, but once you have a Timberweld licence, and machinery that’s adapted to produce the welded joint, you’ll have everything you need to sell timber-look flush sash windows to the premium market, and open up a new, very lucrative revenue stream.