Report on the International Builders' Show

Reader Contribution by Tim Snyder
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Last week I went to Las Vegas to attend the International Builders’ Show, put on by the National Association of Homebuilders. This is the biggest trade show on residential construction & remodeling — a good chance to see new products, have face time with manufacturers and media folks, play blackjack and watch gondolas navigate the indoor canals at the Bellagio hotel. I didn’t get to do those last two things, but I can report on some show highlights. Here goes:

Fiberglass entry doors are awesome! Entry doors with fiberglass skins and foam cores have reached an entirely new level of quality. Checking out the displays at Therma-Tru & Jeld-Wen, I saw an amazing variety of door styles. But the most astonishing thing about these energy-efficient doors is how convincingly manufacturers have duplicated the look of real wood. Texture, grain and color rendition are truly remarkable. The photo at top, left shows cutaway sections to illustrate how these doors are made: foam cores, fiberglass skins and solid wood edges to hold screws for hinges and hardware. Beyond the good looks, I like fiberglass doors because they won’t dent, ding or rust like steel doors. They never swell, shrink or warp like solid wood. No way I’d put anything else on my house.

Retrofitting for accessibility. Our aging population of baby boomers means thatmany bathrooms will need to be remodeled in order to be safe and accessible for people with physical disabilities. I was interested to see the fresh take on accessible bathroom fixtures from a Canadian company called the Invisia Collection. Check out how the company has integrated grab bars into the toilet paper holder, shower mixing valve and corner shelf (right). Very nifty.  

Hi-flow foam shows promise. Fomo Products Inc. had a big display on the show floor; they also sponsored a press luncheon I attended (mostly for the free food). Fomo has developed (and is still refining) a high-flow spray foam that can expand and flow into crevices and other tiny spaces. It stays fluid for longer than other foam, improving its flow characteristics. They don’t even have content on their website about this foam yet, but the thinking is that this new product would be ideal for filling wall cavities in existing walls that are underperforming because of no or low levels of insulation.

A bomb shelter model home. The giant yellow hotdog you see here (left) was on display right next to the regular “dream” homes that were erected outside the convention hall. The vertical tubes provide access and oxygen after you’ve buried the corrugated steel shelter. I don’t want to believe this is a new growth sector, but who knows? 

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