Coastal population centres are growing but that represents challenges as well as opportunity for installers. Steve Mines, Sales Director, Sliders UK discusses.
Inline sliding patio and bi-folding doors go with the seaside almost as much as fish and chips, promenades and rock. Providing the ideal connection between inside and outside spaces, they have been supplied into tens of thousands of UK coastal properties from Brighton to Blackpool and beyond.
The problem is, hardware unlike the rest of us, doesn’t ‘love to be beside the sea’. Salt water and metals don’t mix. Salt water corrodes metals five times faster than fresh water, while salt filled moisture carried in sea air combined with drying and then re-wetting with sun and rain, can erode metal 10 times faster than inland.
We have worked with installers who have budgeted on replacing handles on a yearly basis in exposed coastal locations. Rust stains running down any door look terrible but on white PVC-U there’s nowhere to hide. You get the cost of the replacement, the cost of the call backs. Corrosion eats into margins as much as it does into metals.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics there are 6.2million of us living in 274 coastal communities – 11% of the UK population as a whole. This is even higher in Wales where large urban centres in and around Cardiff and Swansea, mean that 21% of the population are classed as living in coastal areas. There are also concentrations of population in England in the South West, South East and North East, ranging from 23-26% of regional populations.
At the same time as a generation of post-war ‘baby boomers’ retire to the coast, swelling population centres, coastal areas are potentially rich mining grounds for installers. People love the coast and coastal populations are growing as people retire to them. This is also a social demographic with a little more money in their back pockets alongside a higher expectation of quality. They’re also an economic grouping who are more-or-less immune from Brexit, which makes coastal areas a good hunting ground.
This is supported by government figures. While those aged 65 and over made up 16% of the population of England and Wales at the last census, they made up 25% of the population of smaller coastal communities and an average of 17% of larger ones.
We supply doors into all these areas and hardware has sometimes been a problem for us, not because of quality issues but simply because of the environment that some of these doors are going into, particularly patio doors.
This is because people want to maximize the open aspect, they don’t want doors to catch in the wind or have to fight the wind to open and close it. The problem is views tend to come with wind and greater exposure to salt-spray.
Responding to this challenge, Sliders UK is rolling out a 10-year surface finish guarantee across its Fab & Fix hardware inline sliding patio and composite door ranges – as standard. We’re also extending the guarantee, to cutting edge bi-fold systems the Veka Imagine and Duraflex bi-folding door.
This follows Sliders UK’s launch of HardexPLUS. Developed in partnership with Fab&Fix parent company ERA, this draws on the Hardex surface coating technology, to form the foundation of a 10-year industry leading guarantee.
It’s a benefit for all of our customers, not just those working in coastal areas because pot-marking and corrosion caused by traffic and air pollution can be just as much of a problem inland. HardexPLUS is, however, a real advantage for our customers who do because we can guarantee surface stability. That’s an obvious advantage for anyone working in a coastal area because it should go a long way to eliminating call backs for hardware failure.
HardexPLUS has been proven to retain surface stability during rigorous prohesion tests. These go far beyond traditional neutral salt-spray accelerated corrosion testing to replicate ‘real world’ conditions in a series of cycled tests. This includes exposure to a dilute salt solution followed by a period of drying. This allows residual salt deposits to accumulate and concentrate on surface coatings, replicating rain and sun.
Withstanding this cycle for more than 1,000 hours – double the industry standard – Mines argues HardexPLUS also gives installers a strong retail message. It’s a great USP because everyone living in a coastal area is aware of the problems that sea air can cause.
We believe a 10-year hardware surface guarantee across our patio door and composite door ranges plus two leading PVC-U bi-fold doors puts them and us on a completely different playing field. In addition to prohesion testing, Fab&Fix HardexPLUS protected products have also been proven to outperform other handles and hardware against all key performance indicators.
This includes 500 hours UV light resistance testing compared to an industry standard 120 hours; abrasion testing to 18 litres of sand, compared to an industry standard 5 litres and pencil hardness of 4N-5N compared to 2N-3N.
The Sliders UK HardexPLUS guarantee also extends to all of its other Fab&Fix decorative hardware. As well as patio and composite door handles, letter plates, knockers and numerals in a choice of chrome, satin, bronze, gold, graphite, antique black, which are also covered for 10 years.
Corrosion and call backs murder margin – as simple as. HardexPLUS hardware delivers such exceptional performance both in terms of surface stability and mechanical operation that we’re underwriting what is an industry leading guarantee and a great platform for our customers.