Aluminium windows shortages explained

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Nick Dardalis

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Have you placed an order for new windows or patio doors and being told of a general glass and double glazing shortage? Are you being told of aluminium windows shortages too? The glazing and the wider construction industry is facing significant material and glass delays and a general problem with supply. This double glazing shortage isn’t just for aluminium, but PVCu, steel and timber windows. We explain the reasons why your new windows and doors are late and all the different parts of the supply chain affecting them.

aluminium windows shortages and why they're affecting home improvements

Aluminium windows shortages and why the glazing and construction sector is busier than ever

First of all it’s worth putting some context into why this double glazing shortage and windows delays. The Covid-19 pandemic saw an unforeseen surge in all home improvement products. There are several reasons why:

  • People working from home and improving the home for work and family life
  • Significant household savings built up and spent on home improvements
  • Homeowners like you, continuing to invest in their homes

It’s also worth remembering that the construction sector continued to work throughout the pandemic as did the home improvement industry, with tradesmen at the height of the pandemic allowed to work in peoples’ homes.

Above all, nobody could foresee that the Covid-19 pandemic would see a massive surge in demand for home improvement products. The home improvement industry, like food retailers and online shopping, has done well out of the pandemic. So here’s why thy your new doors and windows are late.

Why aluminium and glass demand was underestimated

Nobody foresaw a massive demand for home improvements at the start of the pandemic. In March 2020 the retail glazing sector mostly shut down expecting a nationwide slowdown. Why would anyone want new windows during a lockdown? The opposite happened and demand was higher than ever. At a time when most in the supply chain prepared for less work, demand shot up.

It wasn’t just consumers. Even the global aluminium raw material suppliers couldn’t have seen unprecedented demand. When demand goes up, so do the global aluminium billet prices.

You can’t blame uncertainty and pessimism at the height of a pandemic. People and business have had to adapt fast, deal with changing guidelines and regulations.

glass shortages explained in an article

Glass shortages throughout the UK explained

There are critical glass shortages across the entire supply chain. Whilst the double and triple glass unit manufacturers are ready to make the glass. Their stock comes from the global glass processors supplying float glass in various thicknesses. These top-level suppliers also rely on shipping containers and you’ll probably have read about the global shortage of these. Even the ship blocking the Suez Canal affected supply.

Making matters worse for your window installer, delivery dates have stretched into weeks and their suppliers then raised their prices. These price rises are also attributable to increases in the cost of containers. So whilst your window and door frames may be ready, many suppliers are still waiting for glass.

You may be asking, why your glass isn’t made in the UK? It is. It’s the supply of the raw materials and flat glass sheets most glass manufacturers buy around the world. It doesn’t help that most of the major float glass plants in the UK have closed.

Does the global vaccine rollout affect your windows and doors? The requirement for the billions of glass vials for vaccines is likely to affect glass supply at the top level too.

Even the components glass needs are in short supply.

You may not think making glass needs much in the way of other components, but it does. Plastics! Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Monoethylene shortages are leading to factory delays.

Laminated glass is in high demand and the plastic interlayer needed for this glass type is in short supply. This plastics shortage is having an effect on PVCu windows of course as well as the polyamide thermal break in all aluminium profiles.

aluminium windows shortages and glass shortages caused by a lack of handles supply

How hardware delays are affecting the double glazing shortage

Much of the hardware in your new glazing is also made abroad. Locks, hinges, patio door rollers, and smaller essential components. Again these supply issues create an aluminium windows shortage.

But doesn’t any window hardware get made in the UK? The answer is yes and a lot of it. The problem with just swapping one Made in China hinge for those made in the UK is certification. BSI, Kitemark, Security testing and other accreditations all rely on specific types of components in a lot of cases.

It’s not just aluminium. Foiling of PVCu windows creates their texture and colour. There’s a massive supply shortage of Renolit and other foils – essential to many window and door profiles.

Back to plastics demand. The polyamide thermal break essential in aluminium profiles is also in short supply. Without polyamide, aluminium profile producers can’t put the door and window profile together. No profile affects aluminium systems companies selling bars to the manufacturers. No profile means the manufacturer can’t make doors and windows on time. No profile means the installer can’t get your fabricated windows on time. Neither can you.

Why the entire manufacturing chain is affecting delivery of your new windows and doors

Door and window manufacturers throughout the UK are doing their best to mitigate the effect on them, their installer customers and you.

Many are trying to establish which are the most critical components and trying to locate these elsewhere. Others are doing their best to ensure ongoing supply. These door and window manufacturers rely entirely on the reliable supply of hardware, glass, plastics and many other components types, not just for making windows, but also for the smooth operation of their factories and machinery.

Lead times are longer than ever as a result of all these genuine factors. Typically, window manufacturing companies take between two to ten days to deliver standard colour windows and doors to your installer. Special colours and bespoke products typically no more than around two to four weeks. Lead times are up to nine weeks or more for some aluminium products, such is consumer demand, construction industry demand, combined with the lack of components supply and glass.

glass shortages and aluminium windows shortage explained in an informative article

Understanding what your home improvement company is doing

A caring company will do their utmost to minimise the disruption to you. No business wants to delay your installation. They want to complete it, ensure you’re delighted and get paid.

Many are in ongoing communication with their suppliers, checking when products are ready and moving their own installation schedules to accommodate you as much as possible.

Others are looking to source glass and other essential components elsewhere even if it costs them more and not passing the cost onto you.

Many are not waiting for deliveries of products instead choosing to go and collect it.

How you can help

Be flexible. Obviously replacing a dated set of doors doesn’t cause you significant disruption compared with a newly built opening with a boarded-up hole for your new bifolding doors.

Be understanding. Your installer does not want to delay you, they want you to be happy. Rest assured they’re incurring significant costs right now and none of these is likely to be passed onto you. Whilst you may not care about other home improvers, others are experiencing exactly what you are.

Be curious and do your research. It’s unlikely anyone is spinning you a line! A search online will confirm an aluminium windows shortage, a double glazing shortage, global price increases and supply issues based on transport, containers, the workload at ports and many related stories.

Be calm. Don’t jump to leaving negative reviews about your installer and their terrible service. They’re doing all they can. They can’t control the multiple suppliers and globally sourced components that go into your new windows and doors.

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16:42 30 Oct 23
Nick responded incredibly quickly to my enquiry (on a Saturday too!), and was able to offer invaluable advice on both aluminum systems and manufacturer / suppliers. Thanks Nick!
chris steerchris steer
16:18 09 Oct 23
Had a meeting with Nick during the grand designs show. Was extremely helpful and professional would highly recommend
Chris WesthorpChris Westhorp
19:55 13 Sep 23
Extremely helpful with pointing us in the right direction to find the products we required and suggesting firms that could reliably fit them.Nick was quick to reply and very detailed in his advice.Highly recommend reaching out to them.
Cathy GreenwoodCathy Greenwood
07:03 11 Sep 23
Update - A second email to nick for help on bifolds resulted in a detailed informative reply even on a Sunday ! This guy is so knowledgable and helpful .I approached Nick for an independent view on sliding doors v bifold and the different brand options . His reply was extremely detailed and prompt and allowed me to navigate this often confusing world in a much more informed way . Thanks so much Nick
Anthony CraigAnthony Craig
12:45 05 Sep 23
This is a must site for anyone looking for advice. Great service and very quick answers to questions. Nick has been of great help quiding us through the maze of aluminium products. Thank you
Philip DuffieldPhilip Duffield
20:24 26 Jul 23
I contacted Nick @ ATS for guidance on what aluminium sliding door systems would be suitable for an opening in an extension that is going to be both wide and tall. He came back really quickly with very detailed and incredibly helpful advice. He is clearly extremely knowledgeable about the systems on the market and their respective features and capabilities. If you’re feeling a bit lost by the overwhelming range of choices out there, I’d definitely recommend contacting him.
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17:25 19 Jul 23
Nick's advice is great. He is always quick to respond and spends time on responses, which really help to make an informed decision.
Alan FosterAlan Foster
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Absolutely fantastic. Asked for advice about replacing Crittall (?) windows late last night and early this morning received 3 great suggestions and contact information for suppliers
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09:24 16 Jun 23
Fantastic website full of valuable and pragmatic advice about product selection and comparison: no other website gives information like this. Truly written for public interest. Don't hesistate to reach out to Nick via the mailing system. He responds very quickly, is friendly, and has very sound and high knowledgable advice. I have already shared this with my friend planning her own grand design.
guard Charlieguard Charlie
12:28 14 May 23
I emailed this company just on the off chance they could help me with new magnetic sliders for my patio door. They were not able to supply those but were so very helpful providing me with the name of a company who could. I am so very grateful at the great service. Dare say customers must be very happy. thank you so much.
Benjamin LewisBenjamin Lewis
10:06 04 May 23
Nick is very helpful indeed. Extremely knowledgeable on bifolds which was in relation to my query. Great website as well, some very useful articles. Particularly appreciated the article that lists all the major bifold options in order of their sightlines! Thank you!
P JonesP Jones
08:07 15 Apr 23
I asked Nick some questions about an installation we were considering and he replied within hours with some very useful suggestions that will probably lead us to using a different make and supplier. Thanks, Nick. Great work.
Nicholas WallNicholas Wall
13:18 02 Apr 23
Looking for fair and honest expert advice on all aspect of aluminium windows and doors? These guys will arm you with all the information you need to make the RIGHT choice in a highly complex, crowded marketplace. post a question and you will get a very quick professional answer you can rely on being based on fact. Thanks guys!
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16:25 21 Mar 23
After a lot of research to find doors that would meet our unusual size requirements and feeling increasingly uncertain about the best way to spend our small budget, I stumbled on the ATS website, and I'm so glad I did! I contacted ATS to request advice and Nick promptly replied with a wealth of information, providing us with options and relevant contact details. I only wish I'd found them sooner!
Carol NortonCarol Norton
10:01 17 Mar 23
I've been so confused about how to achieve the look I'm after, and going round in circles with various window/door companies, trying to get away from the huge chunks of plastic currently around my windows. I didn't expect an email to a company found through a Google search to really help - but I was desperate, so I tried. I'm SO glad I did. Finally I have clear explanations from ATS of where I've been going wrong, exactly what I'm looking for, and a list of local companies that might be able to provide it! The response has excelled my expectations and I feel as if I'm finally inching closer to a home with which I'll be happy and comfortable: thank you.
David NunnDavid Nunn
20:54 14 Mar 23
It is rare that I write reviews, however after my very positive communication with Nick - enquiring about suitable slim sash aluminium windows for my project, I felt that a review was definitely warranted. I can reinforce the many positive reviews posted so far, Nick was very quick to respond, providing comprehensive detail, with excellent independent advice.In summary, great service, thank you Nick.
Chantal AuerbachChantal Auerbach
13:04 09 Mar 23
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply was incredibly helpful informative and pleasant to deal with. He responded quickly to emails and was very knowledgeable. Highly recommend being in touch with Nick if you are considering new aluminium windows or doors.
Lee JonesLee Jones
20:21 22 Feb 23
I dropped Nick at Aluminium Trade Supply an email re high security slim sightline bi-folds and their alternatives and he responded that quickly (and so comprehensively) that I felt bad I’d not paid him for his time!Nick Sir your product knowledge is outstanding and you are providing a level of service that goes wayyyy above and beyond expectations. I’ll definitely make sure I mention Aluminium Trade Supply to anyone I encounter looking for a fenestration solution 🙏🏼
15:13 13 Feb 23
We are looking to replace some old UPVC patios doors with aluminium ones. The ATS website is a great source of advice in an area where clear information is sorely lacking. Having used the website, I then followed this up with a number of specific questions relating to our search, and Nick came back very quickly with clear, detailed and very useful advice.I have been very impressed with both the website and with Nick's advice. My only regret is that I didn't come across ATS before replacing various windows in 2021 - I'm sure it would have saved me a lot of grief and money! Thanks again Nick.
Azza McCabeAzza McCabe
17:47 01 Feb 23
So impressed with this company.Responded to my query quickly andgave valuable advice. Nick was extremely helpful and we were able to move forward with our project.
Adri LoloçiAdri Loloçi
11:21 08 Jan 23
Nick was super fast to respond and provided some great recommendations. I would recommend this website to anyone looking to find bifold or sliding aluminium doors.
Stephen HoustonStephen Houston
16:16 03 Jan 23
Looking for aluminium crittall style internal door and external patio French doors. Noted good reviews and thought would ask for advice. Comprehensive reply with excellent independent advice and lists of fitters who could provide products and installation. Great service.
Inga GeachInga Geach
08:25 21 Dec 22
Nick from Aluminium Trade Supply has been extremely helpful with navigating the jungle that is aluminium glazing for our upcoming extension project. His advice was prompt, detailed and always impartial. Very grateful for your input, thanks Nick!
Amanda BurtonAmanda Burton
10:54 16 Dec 22
Brilliant website and an excellent service. Nick provided not only detailed advice and supplier contacts, but highlighted the considerations of various products so I could make an informed choice. Our Sunvista minimal sliders were fitted this week and I couldn't be happier, stunning. Thanks once again for your advice and recommendations, invaluable!
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17:18 10 Dec 22
Very helpful advice given to my question, including the name of 3 different companies that i could try for the product being enquired about. Many thanks
Munim ChowdhuryMunim Chowdhury
11:45 13 Sep 22
Nick has been very helpful on signposting me to a number of partner organisations for steel/aluminium doors.
SUSAN wallaceSUSAN wallace
17:26 31 Aug 22
My experience with this firm was exceptionally good and this is notalways the case as a female, dipping a toe into technical waters.I was spoken too with courtesy and at a level that helped me consolidate what was needed .On top of that I was given a list of companies and places where I could obtain the type of product I needed.I could not thank them enough and would certainly go there again and reccommend others do too.
Paul SalterPaul Salter
22:39 22 Aug 22
Contacting Aluminium Trade Supply is like contacting the Oracle direct. Advice is always comprehensive and balanced. On multiple occasions they have provided me with options that fully meet our objectives. Many thanks.
Nick McCormackNick McCormack
20:25 14 Aug 22
Really helpful and useful came back to me on a Sunday with some invaluable information. Highly recommended.
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13:14 14 Aug 22
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