According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index (PPI), the price of flat glass leveled out in July, for the first time in five months. Prices increased just .1% in July and .2% in August, following months of full percentage increases. Overall, the price of flat glass has increased 8% since last year, owing in part to increased demand for glass and relative shortages in raw materials used in the production of glass. In addition, glass intended for new construction must meet higher energy and safety standards.
Flat glass demand increasing for construction, autos
The construction and automotive industries account for the two largest glass consumers. Overall, demand for glass is expected to exceed $130 billion by 2020. Demand is also increasing for specialty coated glasses and photovoltaic glasses. In construction, these glasses are used to decrease energy consumption by controlling both solar heat gain and seasonal energy losses.
Increasingly, the automotive industry is turning to specialized glass to support new safety features. This increased specialization spurred Safelite, the nation’s largest auto glass manufacturer, to announce that it intends to withdraw from the auto glass manufacturing market by October. The company will still provide auto glass replacement services, but will leave manufacturing to smaller, more agile producers.
An 8% increase in the price of glass over a single year does not seem overly dramatic, but since 2008, the price of flat glass has increased 25%-50%. Flat glass prices have increased virtually every month since 2012. The long-term price increase stems from the fact that during the height of the recession, nearly one-third of the nation’s glass manufacturing plants were taken out of service, and were not replaced. The reduction in the number of producers, combined with the increase in demand, has resulted in longer lead times for production and an increases in the price of the product.
Some consumers are looking overseas for additional product, but transportation issues and lead times often make the cost of importing glass a wash.
One alternative to specialized glass may be glass paint. Glassprimer™ glass paint is specially formulated to bond permanently with glass surfaces, and provides superior UV protection. Glass paint can still permit light transmission while controlling solar heat gain, and is available for about $1 per square foot.
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Photo Credit: M.L. Duong, via Flickr.com