Dennis Gehman, owner of Gehman Custom Remodeling, a design/build company in Harleysville, Pa., is set to enter the replacement window business. The separate division he's setting up will be run by his son Elijah, and will sell Infinity, a brand of fiberglass window made by Marvin Windows and Doors. Joe Sandino, owner of Weathertite, a Sacramento, Calif., company, has carried several brands of fiberglass window for five years, but says he's seeing a lot more interest. Alex Matus, co-owner of Matus Windows, north of Philadelphia, notes that his company's sales of fiberglass windows rose 40% to 50% this year.
STRONG, GREEN, MORE Fiberglass windows have been around for years, but it seems that more homeowners are becoming aware of their advantages and are willing to pay more to obtain them. Those advantages include strength (nine times as strong as vinyl), color (i.e., paintable), and low maintenance.
Although research firms tracking home improvement trends typically project the market for fiberglass as small — Ducker Worldwide, for instance, says that in 2007 fiberglass units made up just 2% of the total window market — some window companies are seeing a surge of interest from firms looking to differentiate. “It's the fastest growing material in the industry,” says Duane Putz, director of sales and marketing for Pella Corporation's Advanced Materials Division, which introduced its Impervia fiberglass line in 2003 and won a Consumer Reports “Best Pick” recommendation in 2007.
RESEARCH-DRIVEN Alan Wall, general manager of Infinity Replacement Windows, in Needham, Mass., and others, such as Matus and Sandino, say that aesthetics are a major attraction of fiberglass windows — the narrow profile allows in more light. “It's a great base for paint,” Sandino says, “it's super strong, you get the colors you want, and you don't have the sun issues.”
Wall notes that “there's a definite buzz in the architectural community” about fiberglass, in part because it's a green product. Matus and others say that consumers choosing fiberglass typically research their purchase on the Internet, and that many had no idea that windows made of fiberglass even existed until they did a Google search. “A lot of people who buy [them] are those who do research,” Matus says, “and the more research they do, the more they like fiberglass.”