Carlos Negreira, Exlabesa Architecture Global Director, predicts that aluminium will continue to grow throughout the 2020s.

After a challenging and unpredictable two years, I’m still as confident as ever – aluminium has a huge future in UK fenestration.

Why? Because the turn towards high-end aluminium products we’ve seen in the residential sector over the last twenty years is just the tip of the iceberg, in my view.

In October, Exlabesa Architecture sponsored the Glazing Summit – an event that drew business leaders from across British fenestration to discuss the future of the sector.

It was an interesting day, but for me, one of the most valuable parts was when the results of the latest Installer Survey was revealed:

In the last ten years, he explained, the number of UK PVCu fabricators has dropped by almost 37%. There were 1,860 in 2011, and just 1,195 today.

However, on the aluminium front, the picture was very different. The number of aluminium fabricators had actually grown, rising 18% from 750 to 884.

Clearly, fabricators around Britain have seen the enormous opportunities that aluminium provides, and decided to invest in it.

Of course, aluminium has been used extensively in the commercial sector for decades.

As a material, it’s incredibly robust and easy to maintain. It doesn’t rust, it isn’t damaged by moisture or the sun, and when you take its longevity and lack of maintenance into account, it’s the most cost-effective of all the main fenestration materials.

Aluminium offers enormous potential to fabricators in Britain

In sharp contrast to steel, aluminium is lightweight, making it extremely easy to fabricate, transport and install, with an outstanding strength to weight ratio.

And perhaps most crucially in an era where sustainability is becoming an increasingly central concern, it’s one of the most eco-friendly materials in the world. Remarkably, around 75% of all the aluminium ever produced is still in use today.

All these factors have made it extremely popular in the commercial sector. But over the last 20 years, they’ve seen it gain traction in the residential sector, too – and in the decade to come, I expect its use in both to continue to grow.

In the mid-2000s, consumer tastes dramatically shifted.

Up until that point, many homeowners had seen windows and doors in purely practical terms. More than anything, they wanted products that were cheap. Aesthetics and performance were only minor considerations.

Then, millions of those homeowners began to look at glass and glazing products totally differently. They wanted doors and windows that are stylish, reflected their personalities, and blended with the feel of their homes and the surrounding area.

The contemporary aesthetics and ultra-slim sightlines that aluminium achieves were the perfect fit.

Far from slowing down, however, that trend has accelerated since the arrival of COVID.

Installed aluminum windows and doors on a white house taken at dusk with the lights on in the home.

The future of aluminium in fenestration is bright

In fact, we’ve seen an extended home improvement boom, driven by millions of people who’d had money saved for foreign holidays finding themselves suddenly unable to go abroad, and others who made substantial savings while working at home.

I don’t see this as a temporary phenomenon. I think it’s actually a deepening of the shifts in buying behaviour we’ve seen since the mid-2000s.

People want homes that are aesthetically pleasing, full of natural light, and offer unobstructed views of the world around them. Aluminium windows and doors excel on all three fronts.

In the decades ahead, we’re also going to face the challenge of housing millions of people in a way that’s sustainable.

Aluminium has a vital role to play in this regard, too – because of its robustness, longevity, wide availability and ability to be recycled.

It’s for these reasons that I’m confident that aluminium’s future in fenestration is bright.

Exlabesa Architecture UK is a world leader in aluminium windows, doors and façade systems. For more information, please call 01302 762500 or visit