COLUMBUS, OHIO — Even as vinyl steals more and more of the market share for new and replacement windows, its main competitor — wood — may be finding its way in the back door, so to speak.
While PVC still dominated the offerings at the Interglassmetal window industry show held Sept. 17-19 in Columbus, pockets of wood/polymer composite products could be found.
Recent startup Comptrusion Corp. of Richmond Hill, Ontario, is ``100 percent focused on wood composites,'' Jim Pratt, vice president of sales and marketing, said at the show.
Comptrusion licensed composite technology from Strandex Corp. of Madison, Wis., earlier this year. The Strandex technology involves a compound of polyethylene, wood flour and proprietary additives.
The company plans to make custom extrusions at its Toronto plant by the beginning of 1998, Pratt said. In the meantime, Comptrusion is outsourcing production for its customers to other Strandex licensees.
``There are some big markets out there,'' Pratt said. ``Strandex is not a structural component, but it is good for decking, window components and door components. Anyone who has a wood-replacement application can use this product.''
Other potential uses include everything from office furniture to caskets, Pratt said.
The polyethylene-based composite generally produces thick, heavy parts most suited for decking and sills. But Strandex also is working on a new PVC/wood combination that could be used for making thin-wall extrusions like window lineals, Pratt said.
In the meantime, an Ohio company was using its booth at Interglassmetal to promote its line of PVC/wood composite products.
Formtech Enterprises Inc. of Stow, Ohio, has been producing its blend of wood fibers and PVC for the last five years, company President David L. Turk said.
``We laid kind of low to find out if the product had any problems,'' Turk said, adding that field installations of its ``Natural Fiber NFPVC'' product have withstood the test of time.
Now the company is pushing its product, which is paintable and stainable like wood, but with the ability to be welded like vinyl.
Formtech, which also makes custom extrusions at its Stow and Athens, Ga., plants, displayed a window lineal made from its NFPVC.
The firm is searching for fabricators for the product.
But companies with new window products must be willing to bide their time in their search for market success, according to Tony Coorlim, marketing director for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association.
``It takes a while to build a market for those kind of things,'' Coorlim said in a Sept. 22 telephone interview from AAMA's Schaumburg, Ill., office.
Other materials also are vying for the business now going to wood, aluminum and vinyl window makers.
``ABS and fiberglass have a better start [than wood composites],'' Coorlim said of the race to market new window materials. ``Everybody is playing games, and that game is to make a more profitable window, a window that's easier to sell and one that's thermally more attractive.''