Still in the Frame  
Wood Window Makers Focus on Their Products’ Unique Properties  
B Y T R E Y B A R R I N E A U  
ood windows are much less  
common than they used to be,  
but they’ve maintained their  
timeless appeal—and respect-  
able market share—by evolving along  
with consumer demands.  
Over the decades, wood has lost a  
lot of ground to more affordable vinyl  
products, which now represent about  
0 percent of the U.S. window market,  
according to the 2015/2016 Study of the  
U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and  
Skylights from the American Architectural  
Manufacturers Association. (Wood is  
about 15 percent of the market.)  
However, because there is a lot of  
older housing in the U.S., wooden prod-  
ucts are still common. About 42 million  
homes have wood windows, according  
to the most recent Residential Energy  
Consumption Survey from the U.S.  
Energy Information Administration.  
By comparison, about 25.3 million  
homes have vinyl windows, despite their  
much higher sales numbers in recent  
“Not too long ago, a wood window was  
tom homes builders,” says Ryan Schwartz,  
the president of Fenster Components in  
Noblesville, Ind. His company special-  
izes in aftermarket replacement sashes  
for obsolete brands and models of wood  
and wood-clad windows. “Wood was eas-  
ily accessible, and the efficiency require-  
ments were suited for a wood window’s  
Schwartz thinks wood-window manu-  
facturing will eventually shrink down to a  
highly specialized market segment.  
“I think we’ll see the large manufactur-  
ers be replaced by smaller, boutique-type  
manufacturers focused more on a hands-  
on, customizable approach to customer  
service and a highly optioned product,”  
he says. “The wood window in a sense  
Marvin’s Ultimate Double Hung Next Generation window has a wood interior  
(shown here) and an aluminum exterior.  
continued on page 54  
Door & Window Market  
Matt Aro of the University of Minnesota says this kiln can turn low-value wood into a stronger product for doors and windows.  
Researchers Bake In Some Innovation  
B Y J U N E B R E N E M A N  
The University of Minnesota has kets for thermally modified wood in ity to conduct new product research  
a unique research organization—the high-end products like doors, windows, and development on thermally modified  
Natural Resources Research Institute siding and flooring.  
wood, such as prototyping, performance  
NRRI)—with a unique mission. The sci- “Over the last eight years, we have testing and market assessment. A col-  
entists and engineers work to make the been testing thermal modification on laboration with industry partners has  
best use of the state’s resources for a range of Minnesota wood species to created the American Wood Protection  
economic prosperity and environmental standardize its performance for manu- AssociationGuidanceDocumentN,which  
facturing,” said Matt Aro, a wood-uti- provides an avenue for listing thermally  
In the wood products arena, in par- lization scientist with NRRI. “We are modified wood. NRRI also conducted a  
ticular, they are focused on making working to address the opportunities in unique study to evaluate the particle size  
Minnesota’s low-value tree species into this process, as well as concerns.”  
high-value lumber with expanded mar- Basically, the wood is heated at processing thermally modified wood on  
ket potential. NRRI’s researchers are high temperatures, from about 320 to an industrial table saw.  
of airborne wood dust generated when  
testing a process of thermal modifica- 365 degrees Fahrenheit, while being  
Aro says variations of this process are  
tion on a variety of wood species in a protected by steam. NRRI has received starting to catch on with the industry.  
pilot-scale kiln. This process of cooking grants from the USDA Forest Service, For example, Masonite offers thermally  
the wood in an anaerobic pressure the National Science Foundation and modified doors under the Lemieux line. y  
cooker makes species like birch, ash others to fund the research on the  
and red pine more dimensionally sta- mechanical, physical and chemical June Breneman is the senior communications  
ble and warp-resistant in moisture-rich properties of thermally modified wood. specialist with the University of Minnesota  
environments. The goal is to open mar-  
NRRI recently established the abil- Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute.  
August/September 2017  
Scotnitlilnuiend ftrhomepFargea5m3 e  
will become a niche product for high- windows work well in milder climates. new heights and lengths with the least  
ly discriminating homeowners and The latter is also a good choice for interruption of view.”  
luxury home builders.”  
hurricane-prone areas. They’re easier  
to keep up as well.  
While many might associate mod-  
ern high-end window designs with  
A Lot of Opportunity  
“The reason people are going with aluminum or steel, Higman says  
Despite that, one industry expert aluminum clad is the low-mainte- wood’s characteristics can achieve a  
says we could be entering a renais- nance part of it,” said Todd Metz, look he calls “warm contemporary.”  
sance of wood windows, and that sales manager with Lincoln Windows,  
could mean strong sales for home-im- during the 2016 International clean details, but with a wood interior  
provement companies catering to Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. to soften the look of the windows and  
upscale clients. Clad-wood windows offer out- take advantage of wood’s natural ther-  
Architects, designers and cus- standing thermal performance and mal efficiency,” he says.  
“That means narrow sight lines and  
tomers are re-discovering wood as durability—but they’re also pricey.  
a material that is both an attractive,  
Technological Advances  
environmentally-friendly, renewable  
Wood windows have seen many  
innovations in recent years. For exam-  
ple, several companies are making  
fenestration products out of acetyl-  
ated wood, in which the part of  
the wood that bonds with water is  
replaced by acetyl groups. That yields  
a product that resists rot and termites  
and is less likely to shrink and swell.  
Other innovations involve using  
wood in curtainwall systems. Reveal  
Windows & Doors’ product in this seg-  
ment uses engineered wood mullions  
on the interior and either wood or  
aluminum caps on the exterior.  
015 U.S. Window Market  
resource, and one that can be engi-  
neered to handle impressive structur-  
al loads without necessarily adding  
massive bulk,” says Ryan Higman,  
the president of Reveal Windows &  
ADrocohrist,ewcthuircahl arMe dilelwveolrokp.ed“TbyhePraeciics O1T5HER Framing  
Sales by  
a very healthy market for high-end  
wood window and door systems. With  
the current strong economy, many  
customers are finally moving for-  
ward with their plans for their dream  
remodel, and they want wood prod- Source: AAMA  
ucts that give a luxury feel and pre-  
mium performance without having to  
“It’s going to last almost forever,”  
“It’s really taking off in popularity  
resort to the commercial or industrial said says Matt Risinger, a building right now,” says Higman. “The price  
look and feel of metal systems.”  
Sales are looking strong, too.  
science expert who has a popular point is a bit higher than thermal-  
YouTube channel. “But it’s probably ly-broken aluminum systems, but  
The market has been fairly con- the most expensive window you’re those can’t compete with the natural  
sistent for the last few years on a going to find out there as well.”  
solid growth track,” says Kris Hanson,  
look, feel and thermal efficiency of  
wood-based systems. Wood also gives  
tremendous design flexibility.”  
senior manager, product management Designs Trend Modern  
at Marvin Windows and Doors. “New  
Like so many other aspects of  
Sierra Pacific recently introduced  
construction continues to be strong; home design and construction, mod- a new architectural wall system that  
the replacement and remodeling mar- ern looks are popular among custom- uses structural, laminated wood  
ket is a business that also continues to ers who seek wood windows.  
beams. These engineered wall sys-  
be consistent. Overall market condi-  
tions are good.”  
“The rush toward contemporary tems offer all-wood interiors and are  
designs that we’ve seen coming on also load-bearing.  
“We’rehittingourstrideatrecord-set- strong in recent years continues,” says  
And the company’s H3 window,  
ting growth,” says Dominic Truniger, Truniger. “Hallmarks of contemporary which incorporates aluminum, vinyl  
vice president of sales for Sierra Pacific design relative to windows and doors and wood, is also getting a new  
Windows. “This is a large market seg- include full vistas, minimal sight lines, enhancement: an accessory frame  
ment with a lot of opportunity.”  
Dealers interested in selling these 90-degree open corners. Massive  
industrial styling, squared lines and with four available profiles.  
“The innovative design approach  
high-end products should know that floor-to-ceiling glass isn’t just an ideal has already received rave reviews  
the type of clad-wood window you’ll anymore. It’s the starting point of the from builders for what it means for a  
want to stock should match the cli- design of most of our projects. It takes smarter installation,” says Truniger. y  
mate of your market. Vinyl-clad win- manufacturing windows and doors  
dows can be a good choice in hot, that have the inherent structural Trey Barrineau is the editor of DWM  
humid climates, while aluminum-clad brute strength that can carry glass to magazine.  
Door & Window Market  

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