If you’re in the fenestration industry, and you stay up to date on home décor and design trends, you’re likely aware that colored vinyl windows have made an impact on homes everywhere. Homeowners are looking for darker hues that match modern living spaces — and window frames can make a statement.
But this is a commercial blog. Why are we talking about residential vinyl? There are a few reasons that I’ve been thinking about recently.
The first is because apartment or condominium dwellers have desires too, and builders have taken notice. My colleagues and I have been hearing increasing chatter in recent months about the demand for new color options in multifamily housing and high-rise applications. The second is because commercial-grade vinyl is an ideal choice for applications like the ones I just described for several reasons (as regular readers of this blog know), and it’s an ideal material to pair with an increasingly wide range of available color options.
For commercial window manufacturers, there are a few things to think through as you’re thinking of developing new color options or expanding your current portfolio. Let’s take a look:
Branching into new colors involves evaluating the different technology options that are available to commercial fabricators. Generally, paint and laminate options are the ones most frequently considered when it comes to offering colored windows. However, both methods have their drawbacks. Each needs additional labor on the plant floor (i.e., applying the paint or laminate), and at a time when fabricators are struggling with manpower, such steps can be limiting. Meanwhile, paint and laminate quality is of utmost importance. Lesser materials may be susceptible to longevity issues over time, especially in commercial applications and in most extreme climates.
But advanced color technology available today can solve each of these challenges. Co-extruded color technology, for example, sees that color becomes an integral part of the vinyl profile itself. Such technology delivers significantly enhanced scratch resistance, high durability and the ability to withstand harsh weather conditions seen by commercial windows. It’s an option worth exploring for each of these benefits.
I’ve written extensively about the performance benefits of select commercial vinyl window systems. In a regulatory environment that’s increasingly concerned with sustainability and stringent demands for commercial buildings, high-performing vinyl window systems can deliver outstanding energy benefits in applications where metallic systems have traditionally held the majority of the market share. The energy benefits can be striking, and these systems have increasingly proved their ability to deliver long-term performance.
Your ability to pair a high-performance commercial window system with high-quality color technology as described earlier can be a powerful differentiator in these types of markets. Think dense metropolitan areas especially, where aesthetic design considerations collide with stringent building code requirements.
Ordering and Availability
One challenge for manufacturers offering multiple color options is the added SKUs doing so involves. For example: Let’s say you offer one commercial profile in four standard color options, but several new project opportunities are requesting additional color options and some dual color configurations. If your supplier can offer these options, it could open new business opportunities, but also lead to added inventory challenges.
From an inventory perspective, things can quickly become complicated. You don’t want to have countless varieties of colored units sitting around in your warehouse, either. And your vinyl supplier won’t be hanging on to all that inventory themselves. A good one, however, can help deliver on your needs in step with your demand with a reasonable lead time. Open these kinds of conversations with your vinyl supplier to ensure you can both stay nimble.
As the commercial construction industry continues to demand more from its fenestration systems, I think that increasingly broad color options represent one way we can continue to innovate. Pairing those options with high levels of performance and efficiency is even better.