Not shut out in cold yet as niche marts hold warm spot

Feb 01, 2011 | 05:02 AM | Myra Pinkham

The drive for more energy-efficient solutions in the residential door market has left aluminum struggling to grow—or even maintain—its market share, although the metal's recyclability and other characteristics make it ideal for certain niche applications.

"Aluminum is just not one of the greatest performing materials when it comes to energy efficiency," said Casey Pope, product manager at Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors, Klamath Falls, Ore., noting that aluminum is used in residential door applications mainly in certain warmer climates, such as the Southwest and in southern Florida, where structural stability is a big plus. But elsewhere, vinyl has the lion's share of the market.

John Mitchell, vice president of sales and marketing at Nichols Aluminum LLC, said that less than 10 million pounds of aluminum is consumed each year in North America for residential windows, doors and skylights, with far more aluminum used for windows than doors.

This is in strong contrast to the commercial door market, where aluminum is the material of choice, accounting for almost half of the sector, according to Libby Magliolo, spokeswoman for the Schaumburg, Ill.-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association.....

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