Subscribe to USGNN!

USGNN Original StoryBathroom Remodels Help Keep Some Glass Companies Busy
April 6, 2009

Trends in residential construction, as with any type of construction, come and go. Not too long ago the industry was seeing houses become smaller as the demand for high-end, luxury upgrades-especially in kitchens and baths-increased. However, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recent Design Trends Survey of residential architects (CLICK HERE to read the survey report) showed that as the housing market continues to suffer, demand is declining for upscale products and features for kitchens and bathrooms.

Frameless shower doors remain a popular choice for homeowners. Photo provided by Drexler Shower Door Co.

While new residential construction may be down, that does not necessarily mean glass companies are struggling for work. Some say shower door remodeling and upgrades are keeping them busy.

"Work in the new construction market is off, but remodeling is still doing fine," says David Drexler, of Drexler Shower Door Co. in Atlanta. "When homeowners can't sell their houses they typically invest back into their existing home and the kitchen and bathroom are where they spend the most money because that's where they will get the most bang for their buck."

Drexler's company works primarily in the high-end market. He says the heavy frameless enclosures are still the ones seeing the highest demand.

"We do very few aluminum enclosures, but also that's not our market," Drexler says.

Angela Harris with Shower Doors and More in Central Point, Ore., agrees that the frameless doors are still the most popular.

"Residential building may be slow, but we have been doing a lot of work in high-end custom homes where the homeowner is having three or four enclosures installed," says Harris. The dollar value of our orders is high because of that high-end work, even though we may not have as many jobs coming in as in the past."

She adds that remodeling has also remained strong.

"Remolding pretty much got us through last year," Harris says. "A lot of people take on remodeling projects and as part of that they add frameless enclosures to their master bathrooms."

As far as bathroom trends, some interest has stirred around doorless showers, but Drexler isn't concerned about losing business.

"That's a trend we've seen for a while in Florida and tropical climates, but many customers still like their shower to be warm-even if it's not a steam shower-and without a door that shower is going to be a drafty," he says. "There are also a lot of other considerations that can be expensive. For example, the floor has to be dropped down somewhat to keep water from dripping out."

Harris agrees.

"We've seen homes that have the doorless shower and sometimes people who have one end up saying it's too drafty and then call us to come in and add a door," she says. "This area really isn't the right market for that type of product; we are not in a tropical climate."

Drexler adds, "That's something that's new and cutting edge, but a lot of people still like seeing a door as part of the enclosure."

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.