January 06, 2021

Seizing Opportunity with Color Trends in 2021

by Eric Thompson

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I’ve been writing regularly about colored vinyl window profiles and considerations for window manufacturers who want to offer them as an option for customers, for a few years now. They’ve proven to be a long-term trend, continuously in demand by homeowners who want to add a modern edge to their houses, whether via new construction or renovation.

As 2021 gets into full swing, there are a couple of key trends I’m looking at that I suspect will influence how window and door manufacturers can capitalize on customer demands with color. Here’s a rundown of what I’ll be watching:

A high-octane housing market. After the economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic in early 2020, the housing market did more than recover. We saw a major lift in the year’s second half, and experts expect that 2021 will continue along those trendlines.

Zillow Research has made some bold predictions as of December for what we can expect to see this year:

2020 has been a remarkably strong year for the housing market, with sales on pace to grow almost 6% from 2019 despite essentially pressing ‘pause’ for a few weeks in the heart of the spring shopping season. Zillow expects that mark will be shattered next year, forecasting 21.9% annual growth for a total of almost 6.9 million homes sold. That would be the biggest annual sales growth since 1983.

The optimistic outlook is due largely to the enduring strength of the market today, even through what is typically a slower season for home sales, and demographic factors that indicate demand will remain strong. Plus, about a third of homeowners considering selling in the next three years cited life and financial uncertainty as reasons they weren’t selling this fall. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout and expected subsequent economic recovery should pull many off the sidelines, adding more inventory to meet the heavy demand for homes and thus creating more transactions.

The renovation and remodeling market is expected to post strong numbers this year, too. Success in a hot market like we’re likely to see in 2021 will involve keeping up with high demand, while simultaneously navigating trends like colored vinyl sought by homebuilders and owners.

It’s worth taking stock of your manufacturing process when it comes to offering color. Are you painting profiles in-house? Using laminate technology? These are both popular options that have served the market well, but both methods require additional labor on the plant floor. Depending on the quality of the materials, laminates and paint can also be susceptible to longevity issues in rougher climates. Consider that some of the housing markets with the strongest remodel projections in 2021 include heat-intense cities like Houston, Phoenix and several cities in southern Florida.

Co-extruded vinyl color technology can serve as a reliable solution here. Delivering enhanced scratch resistance, long-term durability and outstanding resistance against weathering and sun damage, co-extrusion also eliminates any additional labor by coming to your facility with the color already fully integrated.

Beyond black and demand for color diversity. While black has been the dominant alternative color option in recent years, others are joining the mix. Bronze, grays, and other colors could see significant uptick in demand in the coming years. Additionally, I’ve had several conversations recently about new demands for dual-color windows—where the interior frame is a different hue than the exterior, complementing home design on both the inside and outside.

One challenge inherent to offering this kind of color variety is the additional SKUs doing so involves. For example, assume your company currently offers one profile in two color options. Perhaps now you’d like to offer that same profile in a third, or in a dual-color option. You can see how quickly SKUs can pile up with the addition of new colors.

From an inventory perspective, this can create a headache. No manufacturer wants to be holding onto countless varieties of color options in their warehouse, and neither will your extrusion supplier. However, a collaborative vinyl supplier should be able to deliver on your changing needs, in step with the demand you’re seeing, with reasonable lead times. If you’re considering new color options, it’s worth having this conversation with your supplier sooner rather than later.

We’ll see where 2021 takes us, I’m excited for the year ahead. Questions or comments? Contact me directly at Eric.Thompson@Quanex.com.
 

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Posted: January 06, 2021 by Eric Thompson Filed under: color, fenestration, windows