Have woodgrains had their day?
GGP talks to Mike Parczuk, managing director at Sternfenster and asks whether the raft of smooth finish
options launched onto the PVCU
window market has signalled the beginning of the end for woodgrain?
We’re going to skip past the usual
blurb here about how ‘foils
are driving the second-time
replacement market’ (it’s not that
it’s not true, it’s just we figure you have heard it
enough!) and ‘cut straight to the chase’.
Could – are – smooth PVC-U finishes going to
overtake woodgrains, as more PVC-U products
are sold alongside aluminium?
“You don’t get asked for many woodgrain
aluminium finishes," says Mike Parczuk, managing
director at Sternfenster. “And we are seeing
demand for smooth foils increase,” he continues.
“Will smooth finishes take market share from
woodgrains? Yes, to an extent they are. But
would they overtake them? I just don’t think so,
particularly given the growth that we’re seeing in
heritage and flush casements.”
FOCUS ON FINISH
Sternfenster has been at the forefront of the
PVC-U industry’s rapidly expanded colour
offer, in part founded on its partnership with
Deceuninck, manufacturing both its
Heritage chamfered and 8 sculptured
systems, plus it’s Heritage flush casement.
These are available in colour pathways
from stock, plus from Sternfenster, in a StyleLine
Graf seamless-welded finish, something which,
alongside mechanical-jointing options, it has also
applied to the manufacture of R.
“Woodgrains go hand-in-hand with flush
products,” Mike continues, “which is why I don’t
see that demand falling away.
“What we are seeing is growing demand for
smooth finishes alongside that. That’s clearly
being driven by growth in aluminium, particularly
the home extension markets and the supply of
hybrid aluminium and PVC-U solutions.”
In this scenario, he argues, bi-folds make up
the aluminium element, PVC-U, the windows.
GROWING BI-FOLD SALES
Sternfenster’s own aluminium offer includes
the Visoline aluminium bi-folding door,
manufactured in the Smart Visofold System, and
inline sliding doors fabricated in Smart Visoglide
plus the Alitherm window. The investment
it has made in its dedicated aluminium
manufacturing facility and powder coating line,
means that these are available glazed and in any
RAL finish in -days or less.
Mike continues: “The housing market has
more or less ground to a halt but despite
lockdown, despite Covid-, it hasn’t crashed –
and is not forecast to do so.
“So, we have a situation where people are
stuck at home, not necessarily confident enough
to move but with not much else to spend
their money on and equity in their properties,
prepared to spend on home improvements.
“They’re also squeezed for space, may now
need areas to work from home or just want to
extend their living space, and that’s driving the
market for traditional and glazed extensions
What goes into that? It’s an ally bi-fold and a
couple of windows – and the price point means
that nine times out of , those windows are
colour-matched PVC-U. That means a smooth
PAINTED PVC – THE WAY FORWARD
“What is consistent across everything postlockdown,
aluminium, PVC-U, it doesn’t matter
– there is a pressure to turnaround installations
faster,” says Mike. “Lead times have always been
critical but homeowners have had time on their
hands during lockdown. They will buy from those
retailers who meet their deadlines.
“Through Deceuninck we can be very
competitive on foil lead times but through the
investment that we have made in our inhouse
spray-booth, we can get aluminium and smooth
PVC-U products to our customers more quickly
by painting them.”
Coming online just ahead of lockdown,
Sternfenster offers spray painted PVC-U
products to any RAL colour – in less than half
the average turnaround time on foils.
Using a solvent-free paint system specially
formulated for PVC-U window and door frames,
this includes carrying eight of its most popular
colours in stock, which means that Sternfenster
can offer smooth-colour painted finishes in as
little as -days.
Supplied in a high-performance satin finish,
guaranteed for -years and tested to an
expected service life of -years or more, it has
supported the trade-fabricator to more closely
aligning aluminium and PVC-U lead times.
Seamlessly welded, using the ultra-strong
Graf seamless zip-weld, Sternfenster has brought
further precision to finish. This means that it
can colour-match casements, tilt-and-turn and
vertical sliding windows, and residential and
French doors plus ancillary products.
“The service hasn’t only been designed to
match into aluminium, although it adds obvious
value,” says Mike. “Homeowners, commercial
projects – people want smooth finishes for a
wide variety of reasons. There are also some very
strong environmental messages in there too. The
paint is solvent free, its water-based, there’s no
environmental negative, so there’s actually a very
strong retail story.
“Most importantly, however, if you have a
customer who wants product quickly, we can
offer rapid colour on PVC-U, which in the
current climate as an installer, could be critical in