The bi-fold door sector is going through a period of significant change with the launch of a series of new generation PVC-U systems.
“There’s an affordability gap” says Steve Mines, Sliders UK, “The end user demand is there but not everyone can afford an aluminium door. New generation PVC-U systems close that gap, delivering a high level of performance but increase end-user affordability.”
Mines’ is about as an impartial assessment as you’re going to get. Alongside a raft of inline sliding doors, Sliders UK manufactures two aluminium bi-fold systems and with effect from last month – and the launch of the Duraflex bi-fold – three PVC-U bi-fold doors.
“It’s a genuinely interesting time for the industry. Not only do we have some very strong forecasts of growth on the horizon (at the very least for bi-fold doors), we have some PVC-U systems coming online, which genuinely challenge aluminium bi-fold systems. Duraflex’s new offer is a case in point.”
Sitting alongside the Aspect bi-fold from Eurocell and Imagine from Veka, Sliders UK began manufacture of Duraflex’s new bi-fold system last month.
PAS24:2012 and Part Q compliant, the new Duraflex bi-fold is fully integrated with the systems company’s Diamond suite, featuring bevelled and chamfered options.
With suited hardware, 13 opening and closing combinations, three low threshold options and featuring Duraflex’s Q-lon, low line gasket, the system also achieves a DER ‘A’ rating and u-values as low as 1.1Wm2/K.
Colour options include a complete range of the latest solid and wood grain foils, as well as further aesthetic appeal including grey both sides on grey substrate; woodgrain on both sides, on brown, or tan substrate.
“This is one of those statements that is possibly open to misinterpretation but a real selling point that we see for the Duraflex bi-fold is that it doesn’t stand out”, says Mines.
“It’s fully integrated with Duraflex’s diamond suite and is available in either chamfered or fully sculptured options.
“It means that it offers a strong aesthetic match to PVC-U systems which don’t carry a bi-fold door option or where the options that do exist don’t deliver the same high levels of performance.”
Sliders UK has also built on the core Duraflex offer to include a white PVC-U outer frame on a traditional cill in addition to the black and silver aluminium threshold options offered by Masco as standard.
“We felt that there would be demand from the market for a white threshold and traditional PVC-U cill in addition to the solution offered as standard by Duraflex”, says Mines. “It’s just another option for our customers and we hope will support future sales.”
Contrasting with forecasts for the industry as a whole, which at best remain turbulent, forecasts for bi-fold door sales remain positive going through to 2020.
The Window, Door and Conservatory Markets in Housing in Great Britain, report, published last month by Palmer Market Research, bi-fold doors saw 7.9% growth in volume in the home improvement sector last year.
Palmer also forecasts that this continuing growth and that forecast in new build bi-fold sales, will collectively contribute to a 44% leap in volume through to 2020 on 2015 figures.
“Forecasts are promising. Aluminium continues to dominate but this doesn’t negate the potential reach of PVC-U.
“Across product ranges, PVC-U is still by far and away the dominant frame material, accounting for more than 80% of all window and door installations.
“If you can offer a product that delivers a really great performance but equally as importantly a strong match to PVC-U systems already installed, it generates a lot of potential retail opportunities.”
Sliders UK’s other PVC-U bi-fold offerings, the Eurocell Aspect and Veka Imagine also carry the same Part Q security approvals and offer an advanced thermal performance with U-values as low as 0.94Wm2/K.
“The energy efficiency offered by PVC-U systems is another key point. Aluminium systems in general, aren’t as energy efficient as PVC-U systems and the cost of an advanced thermal performance in an aluminium system can put it beyond the reach of homeowners.
“PVC-U systems with strong sightlines like the new Duraflex door, the Imagine and the Aspect, provide an alternative option.”
Despite its recent PVC-U additions, Mines goes to lengths to emphasise that the door specialist remains committed to manufacturing a range of products.
To this end, it launched the Ultimate Evolution aluminium adjustable jamb bi-fold system at the end of the summer alongside its established ALUK offer. PAS24:2012 and Part Q approved, the Ultimate Evolution features strong sightlines even by the standards of aluminium systems and a highly innovative adjustable jamb option.
“The Ultimate Evolution sits within our over-arching strategy to offer our customers access to the UK’s widest range of inline sliding and bi-folding doors from a single source supplier”, says Mines.
“We have brought a couple of new PVC-U systems on board already, and there are further announcements on our aluminium offer coming down the line. We’re covering all bases.”
He concludes: “That has to be the key. Aluminium is going to continue to sell but there are also some interesting opportunities on the horizon for aluminium systems, particularly in retail but also increasingly in new build.
“The point is that the market for bi-fold doors is going to grow. We are working to position ourselves but also more importantly our customers to maximise the opportunities that this delivers. “
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