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An increasing number of homeowners are painstakingly researching the latest trends in everything from lighting and hardware to cabinets and windows to accentuate their own personal styles.
As a result, many manufacturers have invested in technologies to add color to outdoor features that in years past were only available in white or other neutral colors. In 2015, less than 1% of the products MI Windows & Doors produced featured an exterior color. By the end of 2017, this grew to 4%. More importantly, that number is expected to continue to climb; proof that customization is in demand for both renovation and new construction projects.
In fact, windows are on the verge of transforming standard housing applications with visually compelling shades ranging from dark browns to deep reds and greens. But the most popular painted color in vinyl windows is black, which is the new, red-hot color choice among many American consumers.
Last year, nearly 75% of the painted windows sold by MI were dark colors with more than 50% of them black, while 20% were dark bronze. This is indicative of homeowners’ current preference for dark-colored windows, which are being used to provide stark contrast to lighter-colored siding materials. This is most apparent in the growing “Modern Farmhouse” trend, where white siding is being paired with black, bronze or other dark-colored windows.
“The combination of dark windows and light siding materials is a continuing trend in many communities,” said Josh Williard, MI’s director of products. “It’s imperative to stay current with the latest home trends. Today’s homeowners are so style conscious with a desire to display a unique sense of style. Painted vinyl windows now allow homeowners to do this with greater variety than ever before.”
Exterior colors have been a growing trend in the window industry for years, but only recently have vinyl windows been a relevant part of the conversation. For years the problem wasn’t the color, but the ability to produce durable, reliable finishes for vinyl windows that withstand the rigors of time and weather without fading or cracking. This takes a great deal of expertise in three distinct and rapidly evolving processes: lamination, co-extrusion and coating.
Lamination has a longer history in the vinyl window industry than coating or paint. It provides improvements in aesthetics and offers exterior reflective technology for top performance in high-temperature areas. Laminates are available for both interior and exterior applications and can offer homeowners a satisfying solution when looking for a more traditional bronze aluminum exterior or woodgrain interior look.
After the profiles are extruded, they are coated with a high-stick adhesive and the three-layered laminate color is applied by a series of precision rollers and blades. The laminate’s three layers consist of a white, infrared reflective base layer; a pigmented, infrared transparent center layer; and a durable top color layer. Each laminated profile is tested to ensure an adequate seal of the foil before they are used to fabricate a window. Laminated products have performed extremely well over the past decade.
Co-extrusion is typically the most expensive process among the three options; however, the color is approximately 450% thicker than the average paint layer. During the extrusion process, two colors are extruded simultaneously and layered together, creating a color “cap” on the exterior of the product. This thicker color layer helps eliminate cracks, chips, and fading.
The latest advancement to the world of colored windows comes in the form of coatings. State-of-the-art technology combines heat reflective coatings with adhesion-promoting additives and oven-baked application to ensure the paint will maintain color and flexibility while preventing peeling, blistering and flaking. Most vinyl windows are painted after assembly, which allows the manufacturer to offer a variety of unique colors without having to inventory additional materials.
As mentioned, these color technology innovations are creating replacement and new construction windows with multiple color options. This is especially good news to today’s homeowners, who are incredibly style conscious and constantly on the lookout for new ways and methods to display their individuality or achieve a certain architectural style.
With these factors and the interest in color varieties in vinyl windows, color technologies are expected to advance and grow exponentially for years to come with more customization and economic pricing. In fact, industry analysts predict more than 16% of all window sales will feature an alternate exterior color by the end of 2019.