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Material World

Written on August 21, 2014 at 10:16

When it comes to entry doors, insulated steel is still king. Yet wood, whether in its natural form or fiberglass replicate, continues to make headway. There is an “emphasis on natural materials…and the influence of nature” that’s driving homeowner purchases, says Keith Juhola, vice president, sales and marketing, ODL Inc.

What’s also trending in entry doors? To hear manufacturers tell it: varied finishes, clean lines and individualization. “The entry door is the first thing visitors see and touch when they arrive. People want a dramatic presence,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager, Simpson Door Co.



 GlassCraft’s new Lyric decorative door glass, offered in a triple-pane IG unit, complements the 3-foot by 6-foot 8-inch Mahogany wood entry door, shown here with the Savoy multi-point lockset.

Door manufacturers report a rise in demand for fiberglass products that offer a wood look. “Consumers are seeing the benefits of using fiberglass,” says Curt Daniel, product manager, Therma -Tru Doors. “There’s less maintenance, no warping or rotting, [and consumers] like the aesthetics that come with a grain door.”

Daniel says mahogany has become a significant part of Therma-Tru’s business. Consumers seem to like it for its “richness,” he says. At Jeld-Wen, “Smooth and oak grains continue to be strong, with mahogany, walnut and fir growing in popularity,” says Craig Weaver, product manager. David Perkins, senior director North America residential channel marketing, Masonite,, also reports a substantial increase in demand for fiberglass doors with a fir look, as well as mahogany and poplar.

GlassCraft Door Co. has responded to the trend for a lower-maintenance wood-look door with an artisan fiberglass product that’s sold pre-finished. “The sales of these pre-finished doors are increasing significantly,” says John Plummer, president and founder.

Of course, there is still a segment of the market—often higher-end homeowners and architects—that will use only natural wood. Loveless identifies Simpson’s top five woods: Douglas fir, known for its tight, vertical grain and classic look; Western Hemlock, which is similar to the fir; Alder, and more specifically, knotty Alder for its classy, rustic look; sapele Mahogany, which has showed the biggest jump in popularity in the past few years; and American red oak.

Loveless acknowledges that wood products need protection: “We liken our entry doors to pieces of furniture,” he says. “And you wouldn’t put your dining room table in the yard and let it be. We’ve developed solutions that allow [consumers] to use wood no matter the exposure.” Simpson’s Nantucket door fits the bill with its UltraBlock technology, a composite decking material that stops water infiltration. Simpson also offers as an upgrade a medium density overlay on its door faces. “It’s a moisture-resistant material used on street signs and in concrete form work,” Loveless says. “It’s great if someone lives on the Coast, for example, and doesn’t have an overhang.”

Last year, Masonite launched its Top: Jeld-Wen offers Craftsman and 2-panel door designs in its new Architectural and Pro-Series fiberglass doors. The doors are available in a variety of options to meet unique style preferences. A Beadboard design in smooth and fir Pro-Series fiberglass doors are perfect for bungalow style homes, according to the manufacturer. Bottom: Contemporary doors from Simpson Door Co., shown here in fir, feature clean and simple lines for a sophisticated look. Lemieux Doors Torrified Collection to address durability issues associated with wood doors. “The wood goes through a torrification process where all the moisture is heated out of the door, and then it goes through the assembly manufacturing process,” Perkins explains. “It’s more durable when you take the moisture out of the door and less susceptible to expansion and contraction.” At the 2013 International Builders’ Show, Masonite had the door sit under a constantly running waterfall. “And we put a 20-year warranty on this wood door,” Perkins says.



 Contemporary doors from Simpson Door Co., shown here in fir, feature clean and simple lines for a sophisticated look.

Consumers have never had so many choices in their door styles, and they’re taking advantage of the many options. “People want to personalize their door,” says Loveless. “They’re not only choosing style and materials but size, shape, grilles, miniblinds and glass.”

In new homes, the trend is toward taller, and often wider, doors. “We’re seeing a lot of 8-foot doors and some 3-foot-6-inch widths,” says Masonite’s Perkins. In older homes, where people are remodeling, the trend isn’t as strong since homeowners may just want to replace an existing door with one of the same size.

Increasing demand for the “clean lines” look translates into either contemporary offerings, like those in Therma-Tru’s Pulse Collection with its “modern looks and simplistic designs” or Craftsman styles like those in TruTech’s Belmont line and Jeld-Wen’s Architectural and ProSeries doors.

And at the higher-end, consumers are looking for “an entryway that’s…grander in scale, something they won’t find at the neighborhood ‘big box,’” GlassCraft’s Plummer says. But at every price point, it seems, “Consumers are focusing more on making their house a home, and in doing so, putting their unique touch or stamp on it.”


With the general interior design trend for more natural light, it only makes sense that doors follow suit. “People want light coming into their homes but are still somewhat concerned with privacy,” says Perkins at Masonite, which has increased its number of textured glass designs.

Most everyone is seeing a demand for more glass in entry doors. “While transoms are on a slight decline, ODL’s Juhola says, “the most popular configuration is a single sidelite. After that, it’s two sidelites with a single door or double door.” ODL has responded to the size trend with larger pieces of glass and to the Craftsman trend with choices that echo Frank Lloyd Wright patterns and those of other designers of the era. ODL’s latest product, “Spotlights,” has a “mid-century Modern feel, which is very hot recently,” Juhola says. “Research told us that people who buy that type of door are looking for the right glass to fit that style door, and they crave authenticity; they are quick to sniff out something that’s a knockoff.”

One thing Therma-Tru’s Daniel has noticed is that when consumers are choosing options for glass, grilles or divided lites, they want a “cohesive home package.” In other words, they want their entry door options “to match their windows, their patio, doors, and their side entries.”

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Freed is editor of Window Door. Write her at

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To Market, to Market

Written on August 21, 2014 at 10:16

With so many options for customization at nearly every price point, choosing an entry door can be overwhelming. And since getting doors into the hands of consumers is the ultimate goal, manufacturers have developed an arsenal of tools to make it easier for dealers and distributors to spread the word—and make the sale.

All the door manufacturers interviewed for this article have a website, which they are finding is the first stop for many builders, architects and homeowners. The next stop is a showroom visit, and that’s where point-of-sale displays are important for dealers. “It’s all about interactivity,” says Curt Daniel, product manager for Therma-Tru Doors.

Displays are often shown in vignettes but also include door skins, small pieces of glass, door cutaways and a variety of material selections— all for end users to touch and feel. “Showroom displays are critical,” says Craig Weaver, product manager at Jeld-Wen. “The dealer can point out key door features and benefits, and the displays are helpful in exhibiting the actual wood grain and how the door will look stained or painted.”


 ODL’s Digital Display Door incorporates a high-definition television into a standard 6-panel door, allowing the dealer to show unlimited patterns of glass on the monitor.

Other tools for dealers and distributors:

BOOK IT: TruTech uses custom catalogs to help its distributors boost sales. “We take their information regarding the main products they want to offer and we customize it,” says Steve Hall, director of U.S. sales. TruTech has a lot of styles and products and “not every [distributor] wants to stock or promote every style. They want more of what they have in their warehouse, what’s selling in their market.”

While the manufacturer might have an 80- page catalog, for example, a distributor’s catalog, which is presented as a high-quality full-color magazine, might only be 40 pages.

FIELD DAY: GlassCraft Door Co. gives salespeople in the field its catalog. “A homeowner says ‘I want that door,’ and the salesperson enters the stock number and gets a drawing of the product and a list price on their cell phone or iPad,” says John Plummer, president and founder. “It instantly gives them a list price rather than having them flip through hundreds of pages to find a price.”

PICTURE THIS: ODL Inc. offers what it calls “digital asset management software” so, for example, a designer at an ODL dealer or distributor who needs graphic imagery can log on and download any of ODL’s catalog images at any resolution for their collateral needs. “If you’re designing a poster,” says Keith Juhola, vice president, sales and marketing, “you can get a high-res image. For a web page with thumbnails, you can get the appropriate size.” In its first three months, “customers collectively downloaded over 12,000 images” using the software, Juhola reports.

SEE IT NOW: Visualization software is practically de rigueur at this point. ODL has its “Your Door Stylizer”; Masonite its Max Express; Simpson allows web visitors to “Test Drive” a door and has a glass “Taste Test”; Therma-Tru has its DoorWays app; and Jeld-Wen’s website offers a “Design Your Own” section. TruTech recently unveiled its “Try It On” iPad app that’s available only to sales reps, distributors and dealers. For all these tools, visitors can pick and choose styles and materials, and in most cases, they can upload photographs of their homes to see the door in action.

TV RULES: Therma-Tru dealers use TVs to show the company’s product portfolio. “It makes sense if a dealer has limited floor space for displays,” says Daniel. ODL partnered with Jeld-Wen to put a TV in a door that’s roughly the right size for a 22 x 36-inch piece of glass. “It’s like a half lite,” Juhola says. “We uploaded the TV with actual images of our glass—rich, provocative photography. We invested a lot to make sure the imagery was spot on.” ODL ships dealers a door with a thumb drive to display the imagery.

LEAD GEN: Masonite’s Max Express also acts as a CRM for dealers to keep track of quotes and send follow-up messages. Simpson gets information from consumers from its website, which asks a visitor where he or she is from. Consumers are presented with a list of local dealers. “In real time, the sales contact we have at Smith’s Window Door, for example, receives a lead from Simpson via email,” Loveless says. Dealers logon to a password-protected site where they can see the leads they’ve received and access a price quoting system.

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Freed is editor of Window Door. Write her at

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An Acquisition Story

Written on August 21, 2014 at 10:16

In February 2012, Gorell Windows Doors in Indiana, Pa., went into receivership. In March, Soft-Lite, the window and door manufacturer located in Streetsboro, Ohio, purchased several of its machines and product lines, including the Armor Max Plus and Armor Impact Plus hurricane windows. By Memorial Day, “only three months after we’d met with the receiver, we’d moved the production lines and set up our facility,” says Soft-Lite CFO Kyle Pozek. “We began producing the following week.”

The Soft-Lite manufacturing facility in Streetsboro, Ohio

The speed with which this turnover was accomplished was only one of the challenges Soft-Lite faced as it integrated the new equipment and products. “There’s a lot of upheaval [in this type of business deal],” says Tyson Schwartz, vice president, sales and marketing at Soft-Lite. “It was stressful on the Gorell employees and customers, and on the sales and marketing team.” Schwartz had been with Gorell for 17 years but had left the company in 2011 “before it all unwound,” he says. His insight was helpful during the transition.


“You can’t just look at a purchase like this and say, ‘This will cost $1 million and we can recoup that in 18 months’,” Pozek explains. There are
the monetary costs for machinery, travel and shipping; new letterhead and marketing materials; and new samples for dealers. But there are also the emotional costs felt by employees from both sides—“Will I have a job? Where do I fit in?”—and the costs of possibly losing dealers and end users along the way.

In the end, sales people, as well as two marketing people, did transition to Soft-Lite. There is still “a small operation in Indiana [Pa.] and maybe 10 employees there. Some in marketing, some credit, some IT, some customer service,” Pozek says. But no Gorell employees made the jump to the Soft-Lite plant.

Keeping dealers meant educating them about Soft-Lite’s offerings and deflecting negative impressions regarding Gorell’s demise. Keeping end users meant educating them about warranties—an ongoing challenge. “People don’t want to hear that you’re not Gorell and want to blame you for what ‘you’ did. Handling that comes with a cost,” Pozek says.

Soft-Lite did agree to help “defray” warranty costs for a period of time for customers that stayed loyal to the brand.


Soft-Lite’s quick turnaround from purchase to production was “a pretty amazing thing,” Pozek says. Soft-Lite used only internal machinery and maintenance people to disassemble the line, put it on a truck, drive it to Ohio and reassemble it. “We had never run that line and it’s not like we had thousands of square feet of capacity to set up spare lines,” Pozek says.

There was a big learning curve, Schwartz says. In production, the obstacles that might trip you up 75 are not always readily apparent. He points to the “little nuances—we do this thing here or we make this cut there—that never get documented because the same employees do these processes over and over. It’s like learning a foreign language,” he explains. “You can learn it but your accent will still be off.”

“We were also trying to continue to produce for the Gorell customers who had gotten a notice from the receiver that Gorell was out of business. They had so many loyal customers, it was difficult.” Soft- Lite spent time getting customers used to the way it does business, for example, setting them up with a new ordering system. For the sales and marketing team, Schwartz says, “it took time to settle them down and let them know they were wanted. We had to break down barriers of ‘we’ [Soft-Lite] vs. ‘them’ [Gorell].”

Soft-Lite held regional meetings for sales people and had formal training in both Soft-Lite and Gorell products. “I was probably harder on the Gorell sales people than the Soft-Lite sales people when I came on board,” Schwartz says, but he worked closely with his predecessor and “after about three months, I felt like the sales teams finally came together. Now, sales people call each other to get advice. They aren’t living in separate ‘silos.’” Since adopting best practices from both sales forces, Schwartz says the company is now on pace to have the best year it’s ever had. “I have the key and they drive the car. The sales team makes all our jobs easier because they’re so talented.”

In the sales and marketing department, according to Schwartz, Gorell had done a nice job with YouTube, its web site, LinkedIn pages, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. “Soft-Lite had not fully utilized these sites to help with SEO,” Schwartz says. “We were able to consolidate sites and consolidate and increase followers, and also use their SEO expertise. We revamped the Soft-Lite website, and now we have a much stronger following and presence on the web for both our customers and our brand.”



 Armor Max Plus and Armor Impact Plus hurricane windows are two of the primary Gorell product lines that Soft-Lite now manufactures. Pictured is the Armor Max Plus hurricane double-hung.

There is, of course, a plus side to the challenges. But to be successful in this kind of transaction, a manufacturer has to do a lot of upfront planning. Despite the speed of the assets acquisition, Soft-Lite had researched Gorell’s financial performance as early as 2011, and there were a lot of similarities between the two companies: customers, production lines, truck routes, geography, reputation, the way in which they went to market (dealer-direct). Gorell also had an investment in impact-resistant windows, which would add to Soft-Lite’s product mix. “Having the opportunity to introduce an impact product and get into Florida was very attractive,” Pozek says.

Overall, the Soft-Lite dealers took the acquisition of product and marketing in stride. “The entire dealer base obviously got larger and, as a result, stronger. The Soft-Lite brand is also more visible,” Schwartz says.


While doing due diligence on the other company or product, don’t forget the internal research: Can your company afford to take this on?

Pozek says Soft-Lite did a basic level of due diligence with its own attorneys, estimated the risks, acted swiftly with the receiver and paid cash. “It wasn’t such a financial outlay that we had to secure financing; nor did we do any sort of stress tests on cash flow,” he says.

It’s important to look at your ROI and determine if the purchase is worth the effort. For this deal, Pozek says, they determined the payback period would be less than a year and “it held true.” Then they figured in future business and the risk made sense.

You have to come at this from a position of strength. “We always keep ourselves in a financially strong position that allows us to be able to take advantage of these investments when they come up. We had cash in the bank and we felt it was good use of the money.”

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Freed is editor of Window Door. Write her at

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ICC Seeks to Expand Participation in Code-Development Process with Online Voting

Written on August 20, 2014 at 22:13

When the prominent members of the U.S. Colonies had concerns about the taxes being imposed upon them by Great Britain, they gathered together in person to discuss the issue. Although not all the delegates sent to Philadelphia from the various colonies were originally in favor of succession from Great Britain, by early July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed.

It is somewhat interesting to speculate on whether such radical action would be taken by a unified body if its discussions had been via GoToMeeting or LinkedIn, instead.

The manner in which we communicate with each other is changing rapidly. For an old dog like me, it seems I have to learn “new tricks” almost daily.

These new methods of communication can have tremendous benefits. I sometimes think about my great grandparents while texting my sons questions about a sporting event I am watching. My great grandparents had to rely upon written communication to correspond with their family and friends back in Finland after they immigrated to the United States over 100 years ago. Today, “The U.S. can still go on to the next round, even if they lose to Germany” is conveyed to me over hundreds of miles in an instant with the touch of a button.

Although it has taken a few years for the exact concept to become formalized, the ICC has long wrestled with the idea of allowing code officials to participate in the code development process without having to travel to a central location.

The ICC has put into place a process called cdpACCESS, which, after thousands of hours spent in meetings developing, brainstorming, refining and testing, the ICC used as a pilot for this year’s revision of the International Green Construction Code.

Now, at the pilot cycle’s midpoint, it seems like a good time to stop and look at how the system is doing. There have been some glitches, but overall it’s worked, and the ICC staff seems devoted to fixing the glitches.

Proponents of code-change proposals were able to submit their proposals via the cdpACCESS system, although the use of the system generated a fairly large amount of errata. Most of these were noted before the respective committees began their consideration of the proposals during the Committee Action Hearings, and it did not interfere with their ability to consider the proponent’s original intent.

Code-change proponents had been promised they would be able to generate and submit proposal modifications for consideration by the committee and other interested parties using the cdpACCESS system. However, that aspect of the system wasn’t ready in time for the Committee Action Hearings, so they submitted floor modifications the way it had always been done.

If a member of the assembly did not like the committee’s action on any particular proposal, he or she was able to make a motion for an assembly vote. That occurred as it had in the past. But now, no vote was taken by the assembly at the hearings. Instead, the motion was deferred to cdpACCESS for online voting.

The results of the cdpACCESS voting have been determined and posted on the ICC’s website. All interested parties have those results available for their consideration as they develop public comments. The cdpACCESS allows members to submit public comments online. Again, there are glitches, but ICC staff is working to address and fix them.


Has cdpACCESS achieved its goal of expanding participation in the code development process?

The response to the online voting system appears to have been tepid at best. Of the more than 600 codechange proposals considered during the Committee Action Hearings, assembly motions were only made on 20 of them. With the exception of one proposal, fewer than 200 people participated in the online vote for these 20 assembly motions.

Typically, there are more than 200 people in the assembly in the code hearing room during the day, but as the hour gets later the assembly gets smaller. It is not unusual for the hearings to go until 10 or 11 p.m. There have been occasions when an assembly motion has been made at this late hour with fewer than 30 people in the audience, and this small group of people has decided the fate of the code-change proposal in question.

Although the number of online voters might be regarded as a low participation rate in cdpACCESS, it can also be argued that participation in the process expanded beyond that handful of individuals that occasionally make key decisions at the ICC hearings. It could also be noted that nearly 200 people took the time to go online and vote on a model building code that only recently has been adopted as a mandatory code in any jurisdiction. Washington, D.C., has adopted the code with the intent to mandate compliance with it, and the City of Baltimore, Md., has indicated intent to do the same. But both of these instances have occurred within the last few months. Prior to that, the only adoption of the IgCC that had occurred was on an “optional” basis only.

Stephen Jones, ICC president, might be biased when he refers to the “outstanding successful roll-out of cdpACCESS” as “the new ‘Gold Standard’ of remote-representative voting and collaboration.” But it cannot be denied that for some proposals several more people participated in voting on a little-used code than have, on occasion, voted on much more widely used and enforced codes. And that may be an indication that the process might achieve its intended goal of expanding participation in the I-Code process after all. Only time will tell.

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Code Arena is brought to you by the America Architectural Manufacturers Association. Julie Ruth may be reached through AAMA at 847/303-5664 or via e-mail at

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New DOE R&D Roadmap Looks to Next-Generation Insulating Capability

Written on August 20, 2014 at 22:13

Given the enormous amount of U.S. energy consumption attributed to buildings, the 2013 State of the Union address announced a new goal of reducing energy losses in buildings by 50 percent over the next 20 years. The latest Department of Energy Research Development report, “Windows and Building Envelope Research and Development Roadmap,” provides guidance to help make this happen.

It encompasses a number of futuristic technologies, primarily:

  • Highly insulating windows rated R-10 or better (U-factor of 0.20 or less)
  • Dynamic windows and window films demonstrating marked SHGC improvement
  • Visible light redirection to reduce lighting energy use
  • Building envelope insulating material rated at more than R-12 per inch
  • Air-sealing technologies that simultaneously regulate heat, air and moisture flow.

For each of these technologies, the focus is on improving performance as well as developing specific strategies to reduce installed costs and consequently increase the likelihood of mass-market adoption.


The highest RD priority is a costeffective, highly insulating window with reduced installation cost. In the residential sector, the goal is an R-10
window with less than $6 per-squarefoot installed cost premium over the 2010 installed base of windows (averaging R-1.61). In the commercial sector, the target is an R-7 window with less than $3 per-square-foot installed cost premium over the 2010 installed base (R-1.86).

To accomplish this, performance improvement is needed in both glazing and framing. High-performance glazing such as Vacuum Insulated Glazing—with proven edge seal durability and next-generation low-E coatings—are likely players.

Other emerging technologies include:

  • Dynamic windows: Glazing materials and low-E coatings that selectively control the spectral aspect of radiation are now commonplace. It is also possible to design glass that changes state depending on properties such as an applied electric current (electrochromic, a.k.a. “switchable glazing”) or glass temperature (thermochromic).
  • Visible light redirection: Existing daylighting approaches, such as light louvers and tubular daylighting devices, have great potential to save energy in the commercial sector when integrated with lighting controls. The target is to reduce lighting energy by 50 percent for a 50-foot floor plate, at an installed cost premium of less than $5 per square foot over a typical window/blind installation (including the cost of lighting controls).
  • Building envelope technologies: Improving overall building energy performance will require RD to produce cost-effective building envelope insulating materials. One example is Vacuum Insulated Panels, which have an R-value three times higher than fibrous batt insulation at onethird the thickness.
  • Air-sealing systems: Currently there is no single existing air-sealing technology capable of simultaneously controlling heat, air and moisture. New research is needed on how these elements are interrelated and how to best regulate them to achieve, for residences, less than one wholebuilding air change per hour at a differential pressure of 50 pascals.


A substantial and sustained commitment to RD that focuses on reducing installed cost and increasing performance is essential to realizing the energy-saving promise of nextgeneration window and building envelope technologies. This level of RD will require long-term, high-risk research and public-private collaborations prioritized on the basis of energy-saving potential.

There also is an educational element besides hardcore technical RD. In this area, BTO plans innovative measures such as real-time infrared displays through a program similar to Google Street View that shows whole building energy use and identifies how much energy is being lost through windows.

It’s going to get interesting.

One aspect of all this in which AAMA can help, in addition to encouraging collaborative RD, is in its established role as an ANSIrecognized developer of performance standards to serve as a basis for code acceptance and product purchase evaluation. In the end, it’s the homeowners who will decide the RD winners and losers.

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Rich Walker is president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, 847/303-5664,

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NAFS User Guide 2014: A Lot of Work…and Worth the Effort

Written on August 20, 2014 at 22:13

AAMA, WDMA and the CSA recently released the user guide to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 NAFS 2011. There, I just got through one of the longer acronym-laden titles ever known to the fenestration business. The NAFS 101 standards and guides represent the backbone of the window and door business in North America. The user guide must have taken a lot of effort to create, and you should become familiar with the work product. Kudos to those involved.

Over the years, what is now the NAFS 101 has provided the common basis for fenestration performance specifications in all relevant markets,
and NAFS 101 provisions have been melded into the International Codes. NAFS 101 provisions also have become more numerous and complex. The array of titles and extended areas of NAFS 101 coverage has become as tough to track as the characters in a Dostoyevsky novel. At times, this has resulted in misinterpretation, disagreement and mistakes—all of which can increase costs as they can lead to unsatisfied consumers and bring on plaintiff lawyers.

AAMA describes the guide as “the latest product of the ongoing effort to harmonize fenestration standards in North America.” True, but it is more
than that. It provides an organized commentary on relevant issues either not explicitly addressed in the NAFS 101 or about which there has been lingering disagreement in the marketplace.

For instance, the guide clarifies that the air water structural tests within NAFS 101 are not designed to test product installation.

9.2.5 Test specimen installation. Evaluation of actual field installation details (anchorage, perimeter seals, etc.) and attachment to various rough opening materials is not part of [NAFS 101]… The air, water, and structural tests required by [NAFS 101] are performed on test specimens installed in a fixture that permits installation in accordance with the manufacturer’s documented instructions. These tests are used primarily to evaluate the performance of the fenestration product and are not intended to test the performance of the installation, particularly the perimeter sealants between the fixture and the test specimen and the anchoring of the test assembly to the test fixture…

With respect to a lingering “debate” as to whether use of a design pressure reference necessarily includes any associated water resistance performance level, the guide reiterates that “DP does not include water.” Positive design pressure. Users of this standard/specification are advised that the positive design pressure is not an indication of water penetration resistance performance. To determine water penetration resistance performance, the user is referred to the Performance Grade (PG) portion of the primary designator and/or the water penetration resistance test pressure portion of the secondary designator…

Should an issue arise regarding downstream field mulling of product and the impact on the NAFS rating, see:

  • 4.6.4 Field mulling without manufacturers involvement. NAFS Clause 4.6.4 establishes that field mulling without the manufacturers involvement is not covered by NAFS.
  • 9.2.2 Composite units and combination assemblies. This standard/specification recognizes the option to rely upon individual testing of elements within a composite window, but states that the “user should be aware that other performance criteria (air leakage, water penetration resistance, etc.) can be affected at the interface of these products.” With this, manufacturers and resellers should consider communicating that reality downstream.


Section 11 contains a number of useful reminders from the basic mandatory testing of fenestration components, to testing by manufacturers of components to which the consumer will come in contact for the presence of lead. It also clarifies the elements of code-required window opening control devices and fall prevention devices.

I have highlighted just a few parts of the document. The User Guide is technical—not a good “summer read”—but is a must for your reference materials bookshelf. You need to become sufficiently familiar with it to recognize it as your road map into the meaning and required application of NAFS 101. If you are making windows and doors but not meeting the specific NAFS 101 requirements, and I suggest their logical extension, you may be held accountable for falling outside the industry standard.

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Paul Gary is the principal of The Gary Law Group, a law firm based in Portland, Ore., emphasizing legal issues facing manufacturers of windows and doors. Write him at

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Ply Gem to Acquire Simonton Windows

Written on August 20, 2014 at 10:13

Fortune Brands Home Security Inc., parent company of Simonton, Fypon and Therma-Tru, has signed an agreement to sell Simonton Windows to Ply Gem Holdings Inc., according to an FBHS press release issued today. The Simonton transaction is valued at approximately $130 million, or roughly 10 times 2014 EBITDA. The transaction’s closing is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to occur in October. The Simonton sale is expected to reduce Fortune Brands’ second half 2014 earnings per share from continuing operations by 2 to 4 cents.

“Simonton’s strength in the replace and remodel segment of the market combined with Ply Gem’s strength in new construction are a natural combination,” says Chris Klein, chief executive officer, Fortune Brands. “Together the companies can now offer a more comprehensive product portfolio, benefit from an expanded distribution network and have a more efficient national manufacturing platform. We also believe the sale of Simonton will allow us to more sharply focus on our Therma-Tru entry door and Fypon trim business and position us to further increase operating results in 2015.”

According to the release, Fortune Brands remains committed to owning and growing its door segment with its Therma-Tru entry door business, which is expected to continue to drive profitable growth.

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The Big Event

Written on August 20, 2014 at 10:13

The window and door industry is introducing new products at a rapid pace in response to more stringent energy efficiency standards and an increasingly discerning customer base. And while new equipment and software allow for the more efficient manufacture of these products, new business strategies are helping dealers close the sale.

These advancements—both in terms of products and business models—will be the focus of GlassBuild America: The Glass Window Door Expo,, Sept. 9-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event is expected to host over 340 exhibitors, including more than 100 from outside of the United States. At press time, companies had booked more than 1,060 booths occupying 106,000 net square feet.

Organized by the National Glass Association and the Window and Door Dealers Alliance, GlassBuild America is cosponsored by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association; the Glass Association of North America; the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance; and the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association.

More than 150 exhibitors offering products to the window and door industry will be on the show floor in Las Vegas, including window and door manufacturers, hardware suppliers, and machinery and equipment companies.

“I really expect the industry to come out in full force this year from the economic slumber that has been experienced, and what better place than Las Vegas to kick it up,” says Michael Schmidt, managing director of exhibitor Forel North America. “I would easily bet we’ll hit a five-year high for attendance at the show. There will be a lot of looking at products and equipment but also more potential or active buying than recent years.” During the show, Forel will be promoting a line of operating equipment on the floor. “There is pent-up demand for replacement and growth in…the residential window and door-focused IGU market,” Schmidt says. “We want to do our utmost to represent our products to the entire market.”

The Innovative Product Pavilion will once again be a highlight of the show floor. At press time, the Pavilion was on track to match last year’s numbers, with 60 exhibitors confirmed. In the Pavilion, manufacturers, fabricators and design companies will showcase their latest innovations in the areas of performance/efficiency, design innovation, green/sustainability, new technology and solar integration.


GlassBuild America is launching a new education program during the 2014 event called Express Learning, with sessions covering a range of fenestration topics applicable to both manufacturers and dealers. The series of 20-minute, free educational sessions will take place on the show floor and will address topics including:

  • Showroom Dos Don’ts: Strategies to Adopt and Pitfalls to Avoid When Designing Your Retail Space
  • What Installers Want You to Know: How to Make Your Business More Profitable, From an Installer’s Perspective
  • Lead Generation Strategies: Proven Approaches to Attract New Customers
  • How to Improve Your Website: Step-by-Step Best Practices
  • Smart PR Tactics: How to Get Your Company in the Trade Media


In addition to the new Express Learning program, GlassBuild America will host the Dealers Forum on Wednesday, Sept. 10, sponsored by the Window Door Dealers Alliance. The event will focus on trends and best practices, and feature top industry analysts.

“The goal of the forum is to provide window and door dealers the opportunity to speak ‘dealer to dealer’ about relevant industry issues in a noncompetitive environment,” says Nicole Harris, president and CEO, WDDA.

To that end, the forum will include breakout sessions on topics such as lead generation and management, operational challenges, and website development. A special “Dealers Only” session will give attendees the chance to discuss their successful business and marketing strategies amongst themselves. The day-long forum will also feature a fenestration financial forecast from Toby Morrison, national sales manager for Metrostudy, in addition to a networking reception to close out the event.

For additional information on GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window Door Expo, visit Updates on registration, hotel accommodations, schedule changes and new exhibitors are available at roadtoglassbuildamerica.
. For more advanced planning and onsite navigation, stay tuned for the GlassBuild America app, available for download in early August for both iOS and Android devices.

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Window Sales Growth Rate Hits Double Digits

Written on August 20, 2014 at 10:13

A presentation by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association

Driven by a strengthening new construction market, total residential window volumes will continue to increase at double-digit rates to 48.4 million units in 2014 and 54.6 million units in 2015, according to the AAMA 2013/2014 Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights. This builds on an increase of 15.8 percent in 2013 for residential window shipments for single and multi-family housing, according to the study prepared by Ducker Research Co.,

Residential door shipments will also advance, the study predicts, with entry door sales expected to increase from 9 million units in 2013 to 11.5 million units by 2016, and patio door sales forecast to grow from about 3 million in 2013 to 4.1 million by 2016.

Also on the rise, residential skylights experienced a 3.6 percent increase in 2013 in overall unit shipments compared to 2012. The forecast shows growth in residential new construction and replacement/remodeling applications through 2016.

Source: 2013/2014 AAMA Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights, compiled by Ducker Research Co.



New construction activity increased by 4 percent in 2013 and is positioned for a steep rebound in 2014 through 2015 from extremely depressed levels, according to the study. An increase of approximately 23 percent is expected for 2014, from the 2013 housing start total of 983,000 units. Although housing starts are forecast to exceed 1 million units in 2014, they will still fall well below peak levels of more than 2 million units in 2004 and 2005.

On the remodeling side, growth rates appear to have peaked in 2013, when they increased 11.4 percent over the previous year. Still, remodeling will continue its upward trend in 2014-15—growing at a single-digit pace—with homeowners forecast to spend $153.8 billion and $161.5 billion, respectively, based on data from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity referenced in the AAMA study.


Double-hung vinyl windows continue to be the most popular in the residential window market, although the market did see an upward shift from 18 percent to 26 percent for single-hung windows between 2011 and 2013: a direct reflection of the significant increase in the new construction market when compared to replacement applications.

In the patio door segment, two-panel vinyl sliding units hold the largest market share. All material segments for patio doors saw gains in 2013.

Steel remains the most widely used exterior door material; however, its 49 percent share of the market continues to give way slowly to fiberglass products, which now account for 38 percent of residential entry doors.

Source: 2013/2014 AAMA Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights, compiled by Ducker Research Co.



AAMA has simultaneously released a report, “The Distribution of Residential Nonresidential Windows and Doors in the 2013/2014 U.S. Market,” that indicates window and door volumes continue to increase through lumberyards, short-line distributors and professional builders, due to the strengthening new construction market. Specialty retailers, however, have seen volume decline from 2011 to 2013 due to their focus on the relatively unfavorable remodeling and replacement market, according to the study. Remodeling volume has been somewhat softer than expected, and while representing the bulk of the fenestration market during the downturn, the segment is seeing some dilution compared to the strong growth in new construction.


The full AAMA 2013/2014 Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights provides information on residential and nonresidential market trends and product relationships for windows, doors, skylights, curtain walls and storefronts, and details for commercial market segments, as well as framing materials, glass usage and configuration types. The study contains additional information on the residential and commercial fenestration markets in the form of the following reports:

  • AAMA U.S. National Industry Statistical Review and Forecast (April 2014) summarizes residential, nonresidential and remodeling trends from government and industry sources.
  • AAMA Distribution of Residential and Nonresidential Windows and Doors in the 2013/2014 U.S. Market Report profiles the residential and nonresidential market for windows and doors as it flows through the identified distribution channels.

All of the above are available for purchase through AAMA’s Online Publication store.


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AAMA Releases PVC Coatings Specification

Written on August 19, 2014 at 22:12

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association released AAMA 663-14, “Voluntary Specification for In-Process Quality Control Requirements for Applicators of Organic Coatings to Polyvinyl Chloride Exterior Profiles,” which establishes the minimum requirements for applicators of organic coatings to PVC exterior profiles that are used in windows, doors and skylights.

“This new document is important to the fenestration industry because it lets consumers know that the finish applied to their AAMA-certified windows has been done properly and in accordance with the standards AAMA intended,” says David Harris of Renolit, chair of the Third Party Finishes Certification Task Group.

“From a manufacturer’s perspective, it gives them an additional quality check from their external vendor to make sure that application process is going correctly. It provides some oversight.”says Mark Bamford (Milgard), vice chair of the task group. “This allows testing to occur at the point of application and not just at the receipt of product,” says Bamford. “It gives enhanced material quality control.”

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