The design and fabrication of aluminium fenestration products was traditionally architecturally led and was characterised by long lead times. The supply of PVC-U windows and doors, on the other hand, is very much about speed and (typically) volume.
What happens when you apply a PVC-U model to the aluminium sector? Well, arguably, the first fabricators to do this helped rejuvenate interest in aluminium products in the domestic market, which has helped drive design and manufacturing efficiencies that have given homeowners modern thermally efficient products and built-in extra margin throughout the supply chain.
The interest in high value aluminium products spiked during the pandemic, as some homeowners built a cash reserve thanks to restricted spending elsewhere. And PVC-U fabricators who had not yet started fabricating in aluminium took note.
We talk to two fabricators – Glasshouse and Vale Window Group – who recently expanded into aluminium production with the Decalu system from Deceuninck Aluminium.
Glasshouse has supplied premium aluminium, timber and PVC fenestration products to high-end residential projects throughout South Wales since 2011. Originally set up as installation only, the company eventually brought aluminium manufacturer in house, making the decision to switch to Deceuninck Aluminium and Decalu at the start of 2021.
Managing Director of Cardiff-based Glasshouse Shaun Armstrong says they switched to the Decalu88 bi-fold because it outperformed their previous aluminium bi-fold system.
“In the past, with our previous aluminium system, we may have just about managed to fit six bi-fold door leaves in a day,” Shaun says. “Decalu has a co-extruded gasket and that’s transformed glazing times. We’ve actually managed to fit as many as eight door leaves in a day, with two sets of three panel doors and a dual panel.
“Being able to fit that extra dual panel door meant we could put an additional £2.5K on the invoice for that day!”
The size at which the Decalu88 could be fabricated is also a key factor.
“Architects are generally making apertures bigger,” Shaun says. “Homeowners want as much light as they can get, and with Decalu we know that we can confidently supply and fit doors as tall as 3m without any problems.”
The Decalu88 bi-fold can accommodate individual sash weights of up to 200kg. Featuring ‘heavy duty’ hardware to guarantee an ultra-smooth operation, the Decalu88 bi-fold has also been designed to deliver outstanding energy efficiency. Using thermal inserts made from recycled PET bottles – in contrast to the PA66 compound thermal breaks in competitor systems – it can achieve U-values as low as 0.68W/m2K.
“We’ve increased our turnover significantly over the last 18 months,” Shaun continues. “We are now 50% up on where we were pre-Covid. Decalu has played a big part in that success and it’s going to be a key driver of future growth at Glasshouse as demand for high value, high performance products continues to build.”
Vale Window Group
Vale Window Group began in 1996 with a factory in Mansfield’s Crown Farm industrial estate. As it grew, it took on an additional facility in Stockport and, until recently, it concentrated purely on manufacturing PVC-U, the last 12 years of which have been as a leading supplier of Deceuninck’s PVC product range.
“Last year, however, we made the decision to start manufacturing aluminium as well, taking on the Decalu system from Deceuninck Aluminium,” General Manager Andy Lomax says. “This involved
relocating all our PVC production to Mansfield, to concentrate purely on aluminium at our 12,000 square-foot Stockport factory.”
Andy explains that they previously bought-in aluminium products, which resulted in minimal profit margins.
“As demand rose, especially for bi-folds, it was a logical decision to bring manufacturing in-house,” he says. “We now have full control of supply and the quality of the finished product, but it’s also given us the opportunity to fully capitalise on growing demand in the aluminium sector.”
Vale offers the full Decalu range, which includes the Decalu88 bi-fold, the Decalu163 lift-and-slide and the Decalu88 Residential Door. Window systems include tilt-and-turn, fully reversible and casement options.
“It works very well for us to be able to offer Decalu alongside Deceuninck PVC because they suite so well together,” Andy says. “That’s a big advantage when selling to homeowners, because you can offer the Decalu88 bi-fold or Residential Door for instance, combine it with PVC windows and, if you order it all in the same finish, it will match perfectly.
“It’s much easier to manufacturer than other systems. There are fewer components, you have a single outer frame and sash with an identical middle section, and the gasket is co-extruded and pre-inserted, so it saves us a lot of time.”
For more information call 01249 816 969, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.deceuninck.co.uk