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Top 10 New Products for Builders

Top 10 New Products for Builders
New products that can make a difference.
If all the renewed activity at this year’s International Builders’ Show was a blessing, it was also a curse. Manufacturers did their best to showcase novel new products that could make a difference in a new home. But myriad competing offerings made it difficult to focus on the ones with the most merit. Nevertheless, several new products at IBS really stood out. The show helped separate the wheat from the chaff by convening a panel of 30 professionals to select a top 50 new products before the show, and a dozen winners afterward. Other less-innovative products stood out because they met long-standing needs or exemplified trends. Here are 10 products worth investigating.

Habito drywall from CertainTeed
. This exhibit was hard to miss. Located by the entry to the Central hall, the booth featured a climbing wall made from the new super-strong drywall. Extra-dense Habito will take screws holding up to 33 pounds, without a drywall anchor, or having to find a stud. That means you could fasten a

television set with a bracket right on to the wall. The wallboard can also absorb blows from doorknobs better than regular drywall. To emphasize that point, CertainTeed invited pros to hammer a piece of Habito.

Schlage Sense keyless lockset.
Schlage took its time to join the keyless locket movement; the manufacturer wanted to develop a locket that met a Class 1 security standards. The new Sense lockset recognizes smart phone or tablet is nearby through Bluetooth. Then you can ask Siri to unlock the door.

Unlike other locksets, such as Kwikset’s Kevo, it doesn’t allow you to just touch the deadbolt to enter. “If we could have found a way to do that securely, we would have,” said a product manager.

Zip System stretch tape. 
An unlikely winner in the IBS competition, this tape is ideal for wrapping windows, since it stretches to cover sills, curves, and corners. The tape eliminating the need to piece tape segments

providing a better moisture seal. Made of a high-performance composite acrylic, the tape also can be pulled up and reapplied.

Lowe's Holoroom. Several companies offered opportunities to try out virtual reality headgear. But Lowe’s stole the show with the announcement that its stores in Columbus and Denver early this year will allow customers to view kitchen projects through 3D glasses in the store and at home. Shoppers will be able to
design a kitchen using products in Lowe’s stores on an iPad then view it through Oculus glasses, and even ask a salesperson to make changes. The system generates a 3D YouTube video that can be watched at home using inexpensive Google Cardboard glasses. Marxent as part of its Visual Commerce platform designed the system for Lowe’s.

Grohe’s F-Digital Deluxe.
Several companies introduced smart shower ensembles. Grohe says its new system (shown at the top of this post) transforms the shower into a home spa by introducing colored lights, music streamed from an iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker, and steam. The system can be scaled with the addition of multiple showerheads according to the size of the space. Advanced showerheads deliver precise water distribution through any spray pattern.

American Standard Beale Touchless Faucet.
Several faucet companies brought out new and improved versions the touchless faucets. American Standard, for instance, debuted a new line of high-arc contemporary faucets that offer manual and automatic performance. The faucet operates in manual mode –

which may the best mode for a visiting parent -- by sliding a moveable door to cover the sensor. With the door open, regular users can wave a hand over the sensor to activate a spray. The sensor is located on the top of the faucet rather than underneath so that it is less likely to be accidentally activated.

JuiceBox Home Battery.
While the public waits for Tesla to bring its home battery to market, JuiceBox, a Silicon Valley start-up, is already selling batteries from Maine to California. The company offers an 8.6kW, lithium-ion battery pack, coupled with an inverter, and energy management software for the homeowner. With

a home battery, homeowners can store excess power from their solar installation, buy electricity from utilities when it’s cheap, and have back-up power when the utility grid is down. Home batteries have been described as the missing link in the net-zero home movement.

The Clare Wireless Home Automation System.
This company, a relative newcomer to the home automation field, offers a basic system for less than $1000 that serves as a gateway for the many new wireless apps on the market. A control hub accepts input from hard-wired sources for communications,

video, security, and other systems. But the hub is also compatible with wireless protocols. Homeowners can set scenes for different family members and control them from an iPad.

Sherwin Williams Paint Shield.
Sherwin-Williams hopes to gain enough state government approvals to have its groundbreaking paint available in stores in February. The paint, which took four years to develop, kills infection-causing bacteria (including staph, MRSA and E. coli) after two hours of exposure. The biggest challenge, according to product managers at the show, was suspending the bacteria-killing agent in a paint solution. The paint was tested with an EPA protocol to prove that it last up to four years, as long as the integrity of the surface is maintained.

Speaking of anti-microbial, which may well become an expanding product category thanks to global health concerns from Ebola to Zika, copper has antimicrobial properties worth investigating for door and cabinet hardware. For more information see Copper Development Association or Antimicrobial copper.org.

Winbag inflatable air cushion
. Red Horse USA won best in show for its inflatable air cushion that allows one person to adjust windows and doors, household appliances, and cabinets. The cushion-like product can lift

up to 220 pounds and won’t scratch or damage a window, door, or cabinet. Windows can be easily aligned within a millimeter. The cushion can be placed under a door and pumped up to precisely align hinges, without an extra hand.

Boyce Thompson is the former Editorial Director of Builder Magazine, and the author of The New New Home.

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