You gave your clients an outdoor living space, but summer's setting in and they're hardly using it. “People want to use their patios and open their big sliding glass doors, but then they're miserable because of the bugs,” says Ben Hume, founder of Mirage Screen Systems. Hume says insects and too much sunlight drive homeowners back indoors most often, and that the retractable screen industry is growing as a result.
In addition to Mirage, Phantom Screens and NanaWall Systems have introduced new retractable-screen product lines to alleviate homeowners' outdoor stressors. Beyond vertically mounted screens for patio doors and windows, Mirage and Phantom also offer large-scale, horizontally mounted motorized screens to close off lanais or pool areas with the touch of a button.
Opening a home to the outdoors only to close it off with a screen may seem odd, but Phantom's marketing communications specialist Kristina Bierens notes the value of retractability. “Built-in screens can block as much as 30% of the natural daylight coming in,” she says. “Retractable screens pull out of sight completely, so when the window is closed you can pull the screen out of the way for a clear view and plenty of light.” Retractability also means that screens are subjected to less UV and weather degradation, and will need to be cleaned less frequently.
Customers purchasing Jeld-Wen's Custom Wood windows in casement, double-hung, or awning styles can also experience these benefits, since the company has partnered with Phantom. Factory-installed, the matching retractable screen option adds about 30% to the cost of the window, but homeowners may appreciate the extra functionality.
For homeowners troubled more by sun than by bugs, Shade Tree offers retractable shades custom cut to fit the overhead openings in pergolas and arbors. Riding on tracks, the shades are made of Sunbrella-brand material and can extend up to 21 feet. Shade Tree president Dwayne Williams says the shades offer aesthetics in addition to sun protection. “Pergolas give homeowners a physical and visual outdoor destination,” he says. “Once they arrive, the shades give them a room feeling without the permanence of a pitched roof.”