Windows and doors: time to review your suppliers?

Residential windows and doors have an impact on a building that is completely disproportionate to their cost and the overall value of the project. Of course they are essential to the function and performance of the building but the aesthetic and even emotional impact they have on a residential property, for tenents and owners, should never be underestimated.

The process of opening every project out to the market is not practical which means that a hardcore of window suppliers and brands will supply most specifiers’ needs. But there is also a great deal to be said for shaking the tree now and again to see what else is out there. After all, that is probably how you met your present suppliers…all those years ago.

Still the most effective way of identifying new potential suppliers are exhibitions. However, the failure of Interbuild and decline of other events means there is quite simply no comprehensive ‘one-stop-shop’ exhibition for professional specifiers currently.

However windows, doors, glass and other elements of residential glazing such as conservatories and porches particularly for the private and public sector housing markets, have commanded their own exhibitions and forums for almost 40 years.

Following the demise of a specialist show alongside Interbuild, a new event with the unlikely title of ‘The FIT Show’ – it is an acronym of ‘Fabricator Installer Trade’ – now provides the most comprehensive buyers guide to windows, door, roofs and anything to do with (mostly) residential glazing there has been for perhaps 10 years or more. Although its core visitor base are the companies and individuals that manufacture and fit the stuff, it is thorough and the most comprehensive and useful event around through which an effective review of glazing products and suppliers may be carried out.

With its maiden outing almost three years ago The FIT Show, which takes place this April at The International Centre, Telford, has now grown into a substantial event that will feature around 180 exhibitors in four halls representing most of the major brands of windows and doors – including composite, sliding and bi-folding – available in the UK. Add in legions of hardware, manufacturing machinery, widgets and support services and it is pretty much everything a window ‘professional’ could possibly need.

After a break of almost two years since the last FIT Show the majority of exhibitors will have something new on their stands that is being shown for the first time anywhere, so planning is recommended rather than a simple stroll around the aisles; there is much to detain the unprepared visitor.

Despite the propensity of exhibitors to keep their new wares under wraps until the event some details have leaked out. We know, for example at least four brand new window systems will be revealed at The FIT Show although one of these, a product called Lumi, has been seen at public shows over the past year. Called ‘a product that truly reinvents the window’ by the judges of a recent awards programme, Lumi offers virtually seamless, edge-to-edge glazing through windows, and residential, sliding and bi-folding doors. In fact doors, especially those of the composite and bi-folding persuasions are at The FIT Show in droves.

A spectacular must-see is the electronically tintable glass being show for the first time anywhere in the UK. Tintable in stages using amongst other things a smartphone app, it is the product of US manufacturer SageGlass, a Saint-Gobain company. And here’s the rub: the firm has replaced the whole of one curtain-walled end of an exhibition hall – no less than 314 metres2 – with its product, in what is the ultimate exhibition demo. Clayton Glass, with a stand in that very same exhibition hall, is the UK agent for the product.

If you are serious about windows, doors and glass and glazing then The Fabricator Installer Trade (FIT) Show really should not be missed. 12th, 13th 14th April 2016, at The International Centre Telford. www.fitshow.co.uk.

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