The rise of flush
Ian Cocken, director of sales and marketing at Aluplast, discusses the success of flush sash and why it continues to present significant opportunities for fabricators and installers.
Originally developed to provide a high-performance solution for the replacement of traditional timber sashes, the introduction of the flush PVC casement was a landmark innovation for the industry.
Over the last 10 years, the market share of flush casements has grown steadily, helping it to transition from a high-end, niche product to a much more widely adopted style of window.
And in the last 18 months, thanks to the home improvement boom, that growth has accelerated rapidly. According to a report from the Resolution Foundation, the average UK household enjoyed a windfall of £7,800 during Covid – with the top 10% gaining £50,000 on average.
With little else to spend their money on, homeowners invested heavily in their property during the pandemic, and they’ve been prepared to spend more on higher value, better-looking products, including flush.
That’s reflected in sales of flush sash for our customer, Affordable Window Systems, which have increased 20% year on year. As one of the largest fabricators in the UK, operating from a 200,000ft2 facility on the Fylde Coast in Lancashire, Affordable manufactures approximately 300 flush casements a week.
That represents roughly 15% of its volume of output for PVC, but in terms of sales value, the number is closer to 40%.
Another key driver for the success of flush has been the development of foiling technology. At Aluplast, we have invested heavily in foiling and production capacity, and we now offer up to 40 different finishes.
That includes our next generation woodec and aludec foils, which have been developed to accurately replicate the look and feel of timber and aluminium, as well as stock options such as smooth anthracite grey – available on both sides of the profile – and with a grey substrate.
For companies such as Affordable, where as much as 95% of orders for flush are specified with a foiled finish, colours such as Painswick (agate grey) and creams are still predominantly favoured for period properties.
However, the availability of finishes such as smooth anthracite grey have massively broadened its appeal, creating opportunities with more modern, contemporary projects, where it offers a stylish, better performing and more cost-effective solution to aluminium.
Aluplast was by no means the first PVC system company to offer a flush sash, but by taking our time to research and develop our offer, we were better placed to understand the market and what our fabricators wanted from the system when we did launch it.
Delivering high levels of attention to detail and the right aesthetic was a big part of that. By designing a reduced front to back depth, we were able to deliver ultra-slim sightlines with a low chamfer running out to the IGU.
Other design features include a choice of standard and heritage deep bottom rail, the latter of which further increases its appeal with owners of period properties, plus the option for mechanical jointing.
This forms a key part of Affordable Window Systems’ offer, which is branded as Timberlook. This includes a Timberweld mechanical joint, which combines with our fully sculptured ovolo profile for an ornate finish on the interior frame.
Perfect for the heritage sector, Timberlook is highly authentic, a prime example of how our flush system can be specified to satisfy the strictest planning requirements, even for projects in conservation areas.
As we head into 2022, flush casements will continue to increase in popularity, and at Aluplast we are exceptionally well positioned to help our customers benefit from that.
That’s down to the outstanding quality and design flexibility of our system, but also the steps we are taking to further enhance our production capacity and service through the development of our new £26 million manufacturing plant.
Currently under construction on a 15-hectare site, it will include state-of-the-art extrusion, foiling, technical and R&D facilities, and is due to come online in the summer.