We catch up with Ian Cocken, Director of Sales and Marketing, aluplast, who explains how the system company has fine-tuned its flush sash offer.
“Flush sash windows might have been introduced as a niche product, but their popularity and market share has grown significantly over the years,” says Ian Cocken, Director of Sales and Marketing, aluplast.
“That’s due to increased product development by systems companies, but also the introduction of more advanced foils and finishes. This has helped to extend the appeal of flush as more than just a replacement for worn out timber casements – grey and black foils have opened up additional opportunities on more contemporary homes as well.
“Consumers are now much more aware of the options available to them when considering new or replacement windows,” he continues. “Over the course of the pandemic, demand has skyrocketed and so has interest in flush casements.
“As we head into 2022, there’s no question that fabricators and installers who do not yet have a flush offering in their portfolio will be missing out on valuable opportunities.”
When aluplast introduced its flush sash to the UK market a little over two years ago, it was already a well developed product.
In addition to ultra-slim sightlines, design features included a choice of standard and heritage deep bottom rail, plus options for mechanical jointing – aesthetics that combine to create a strong match for a traditional, 19th century timber sash.
It has since refined its offer further, creating a new sash detail that has reduced the sightlines by 8mm in width and height, introduced additional gasket options and developed packers that allow installers to quickly and easily clip a dummy sash into a fixed light frame.
“It’s taken a little while to perfect, but those refinements have resulted in a much more complete product,” continues Cocken.
“Aesthetics are everything with flush, on the exterior but also the interior of the window. A key advantage of the aluplast flush sash is that it sits behind the rebate on the outerframe, in the same way you would expect on a standard casement.
On some competitor systems, their design effectively ‘rolls over’, leaving a gap between the outerframe, the transom and the sash, creating the potential for the window to drop over time and leave an unequal gap.
“That’s not something that you would easily pick up on from outside of the house, but on the inside, it’s much more noticeable,” he explains. “That’s a problem area, flush products are a premium offer and consumers will naturally expect them to perform.
“Our design avoids this problem, and the potential for costly remedial work, altogether.”
For existing aluplast fabricators, adds Cocken, the fact that the system company’s flush sash uses the same outerframe, transom and mullions as the Ideal70 and Ideal4000 range, presents an exciting, hassle free route to the premium heritage sector.
“Apart from a couple of gaskets, all you are doing is changing the sash,” he says. “You can combine that with a 28mm unit to maintain a flush bead or you can opt for a 24mm unit, with our ovolo profile, which gives a more ornate finish on the interior frame.
“Our customer, Affordable Window Systems, has adopted this sculptured profile for its Timberlook offer, which also incorporates a mechanical joint and our heritage deep bottom rail.”
One of the UK’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of PVC-U and aluminium windows, Affordable operates from a 200,000ft2 facility in Lancashire. Manufacturing around 2,000 PVC frames a week, flush sash currently represents around 15% of volume but as much as 40% of sales value.
“The fact that sales of Timberlook generates such a high turnover of sales in relation to the volume of windows it makes, is the perfection demonstration of why flush sash is such an important product for fabricators,” says Cocken.
“Consumers are prepared to pay more for it, it’s that simple, and the vast majority of orders will also include an option for colour – 95% of flush windows fabricated by Affordable are optioned with a foil.”
With a range of 40 different finishes, including the next generation woodec and aludec foils, aluplast has invested significantly in its foil offer. This has allowed it to maintain a strong supply of its most popular stock colours, with foiled product accounting for as much as 50% of total order volume.
“We know that demand for flush and for foils is only going to increase,” concludes Cocken. “The development work in fine tuning our flush sash – combined with our investment and service on colour – has given our customers a massive opportunity to increase their profitability going forward.”