While the aluminum residential door market clearly
represents a very small niche, there are those in the aluminum
industry who see some potential for at least a modest increase
in market share, although it will require a change in consumer
Despite efforts to push the use of aluminum for this
application based on lifecycle cost and sustainability
advantages, it continues to struggle to maintain its standing
vs. vinyl and other materials.
"Aluminum intensity is high for commercial door applications
because of its properties, value, low maintenance and
environmental advantages. It is not, however, as popular for
residential applications as people don't realize the long-term
advantages of aluminum doors. They tend to make a choice based
on the immediate price as opposed to the lifecycle cost," said
Jerome Lucaes, director of strategic marketing for North
America at Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan.
"What aluminum companies are doing, and should be doing even
more, is to promote all the advantages that aluminum offers as
a residential door solution from a holistic point of view. If
consumers can be encouraged to look at the commercial market,
where aluminum is well adopted, they will realize that aluminum
could be a good solution for residential applications as well,"
he said. "We would like to have potential buyers consider the
durability, long product life, lower environmental impact, low
maintenance and stability of aluminum door frames."
As an example of aluminum's durability, he cited the statue
of Eros in London's Piccadilly Circus, erected in 1892, the
first such use of aluminum. "It is still in good shape without
any surface coating or repair," Lucaes said.
But it could be a hard sell to get more door manufacturers
to switch to aluminum, given that there really aren't a lot of
suppliers producing the narrow widths required for the
residential market, said John Mitchell, vice president of sales
and marketing at Nichols Aluminum LLC.
On the other hand, moves by some door manufacturers to
upgrade their products has had at least a small positive impact
on aluminum consumption for residential doors, according to
Lynn Brown, senior vice president of sales and marketing at
Hydro Aluminum North America Inc.'s Extrusion Americas business
unit in Linthicum, Md. "Moves toward more design-oriented,
upscale products could increase the aluminum content somewhat,"