Sky's the limit: A look into windows & doors

This year has been a cautiously optimistic one for the housing industry in general, and some predict an even more dramatic recovery for the windows and doors market. "World Windows & Doors," a Freedonia Group study published in June, expects global demand for windows and doors to reach $223 billion in annual revenue by 2017.

With that said, a good portion of this recovery is predicted to take place outside the United States in areas such as China and certain developing nations. It may be no surprise, then, that the outlook in the United States stays consistent with that of the overall housing market.

Berit Griffin, public relations coordinator at Marvin Windows and Doors, acknowledged that Marvin continues to see improving conditions across the board. Do Freedonia's figures sound accurate? Time will tell.

"Remodel and replace continues to remain steady, and there is an uptick in new construction activity that we are seeing," said Griffin in an email. "Right now, it's impossible to forecast exactly what the demand for fenestration products will be on a global scale, but we do believe that it will continue to strengthen as the housing market rebounds in developed countries."

With a predominantly positive outlook either way, exterior home products continue to delight the eye and advance in their performance and craftsmanship. This year, there's as large of a premium as ever before on energy efficiency, airtight performance, clean, modern lines and a "back to nature" aesthetic. Here are a few of our favorites.

Green Leaf Bamboo Doors

For the eco-conscious home builder, these bamboo doors are an opportunity to support American manufacturing and sustainable material sourcing. All that aside, many might gravitate toward them for their good looks alone. (

Marvin Stormplus Windows

New-home construction is weighing storm-proof features more heavily in 2013, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Marvin's Stormplus Windows, here showcased in a home on Captiva, are certified to withstand 140-mph winds. (

Hy-Lite Bath-Lite Series

Privacy, affordability and elegance are hardly competing interests when it comes to this collection of bathroom windows, available in three vinyl frame designs. (

Ply Gem Canada Elite Series Woodgrain Fiberglass Entry Door

Fiberglass is a pragmatic choice for homes in humid climates. With handsome woodgrain options such as this one, homeowners don't have to choose between looks and performance. (

Jeld-Wen W-2500 Wood Windows

This clad-wood window line employs a smarter use of thermal breaks to meet Energy Star criteria in all four U.S. climate zones — while remaining faithful to strict budgets and traditional aesthetics. (

Simpson Artist Collection doors

The wood exterior doors designed by architect James L. Cutler, FAIA, offer the homeowner a contemporary look with clean, simple lines and a number of glass options. (

Pella Designer Series Windows

It's not just "designer" because of its tasteful restraint. It's designed to be smarter about window performance with between-the-glass shades and blinds that reduce allergens. In addition, they are 53% to 74% more efficient with triple-pane glass. (

Clopay Cypress Collection Faux Wood Garage Door

In keeping with the "back to nature" theme that's characterized so much of 2013's trends, this faux wood steel garage door features an Ultra-Grain paint finish to complete the illusion of a high-maintenance exterior. (

Fakro Balcony Skylight

No longer relegated to dark, cramped conditions, attic dwellers can enjoy their own convertible balconies thanks to these inventive roof windows by Fakro. (

Soft-Lite Kingsroyal Glide Patio Door

Performance is key when it comes to this prominent exterior feature. A two-point locking system, antimicrobial weatherstripping, Comfortfoam insulation and DuraRoller track system keep entries and exits reliably smooth. (

Weather Shield Premium Series

A blend of old-world craftsmanship and new-world energy efficiency characterizes this collection of windows and patio doors. Weather Shield makes a selling point out of the self-titled TriCore frame technology and Symmetry Balance System. (

Velux Solar-Powered "Fresh Air" Skylight

This year has certainly brought more progress in smart home innovations. This solar-powered skylight closes automatically when it senses rain, and its wireless setup makes fresh air ventilation a literal breeze. (

Milgard Moving Glass Wall Systems

Is it a door? A window? Or maybe both? This is an imaginative way to open up an interior space while providing seamless mobility. The tandem stainless steel ball bearing rollers make a small task out of operating these grand fixtures. (

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