Glass Canada

Editorial: Two solitudes?

The increasingly blurry line between residential and commercial fenestration.

October 25, 2023  By Patrick Flannery

When I became editor of this magazine back in 2011, Glass Canada was serving both sides of the glass industry: the “residential” window and door manufacturers and dealers working mostly with PVC frames on single-family homes and low-rise multi-units, and the “commercial” glaziers and glass fabricators working mostly with aluminum on storefronts, high-rise towers, industrial and institutional buildings. It quickly became apparent to me that each sector needed its own communication channel. The residential and commercial sides were just too different. So we started Fenestration Review as a separate national magazine for the residential window and door industry, focusing on those particular companies and the issues they face. That move proved to be the right thing to do – the channel has been well-received and is now the official media partner of Fenestration Canada and WinDoor.

Today, though, I wonder if technology and external circumstances are creating a situation where there’s more overlap in the two markets. One thing that’s happened since Fenestration Review launched is that vinyl has now been approved for high-rise applications provided it can meet the structural standards, which it often can. Another is that significant work has been done to create themally broken aluminum products, or aluminum frames with PVC inserts. That, combined with an architectural trend for narrow, dark trim, has created interest in aluminum on houses and low-rise again. Single-family homebuilding has slowed in general in favour of multi-units, which has encouraged a lot of residential manufacturers to look for business supplying to larger contractors on commercial contracts where before they might have done more renovation or small projects. Custom luxury homes have taken on more and more aspects of commercial construction, with some even including curtainwall. As energy codes tighten, residential providers may have to get familiar with whole-house performance-path validation of their product’s energy performance, which is closer to how commercial consultants have had to commission their projects. Going the other way, commercial glaziers are facing greater demands for energy efficiency where they used to be fairly relaxed compared to what residential manufacturers faced. 

There’s a lot to dicuss here and to that end I want to invite everyone to WinDoor in Toronto on Nov. 15 and 16. We’ll be bringing the Top Glass band to WinDoor with a special panel discussion featuring Adrian Edge from Innotech, Brett Lucier from Provincial Glass and Mike Bruno from Everlast, moderated by me. All these guys touch both sides of the industry and we’re going to compare, contrast and see where there might be new opportunities for companies in one side to profit in the other. If WinDoor hasn’t been on your radar as a commerical glass specialist, 2023 is the year to try it out. 

Important note! Please note our date change for Top Glass. Canada’s architectural glass event will now happen April 30.


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