Check out the following innovative products and building materials for your home from the 2012 International Builders’ Show:

  • Rubber membrane soundproofing from Acoustiblok.
  • Easy to install and use shutoff valve boxes by LSP Products.
  • Kerdi rectangular shower drains from Schluter.
  • Voltex heat pump water heaters by A.O. Smith.
  • Ultra series bathroom vent fans from Broan-NuTone.
  • Low profile Dow Powerhouse photovoltaic solar roof shingles.
  • Wireless Nexia Home Intelligence system from Schlage.
  • Trane ComfortLink II programmable thermostat.
  • Faux moldings, trim, columns, and beams by Fypon.
  • Prefinished Cerfis Finished Elegance moldings from Eastman.
  • Flexible IdealEdge plastic laminate edging by Formica.
  • Elevations steel deck framing from Trex.
  • Tilt and turn windows by Jeld-Wen Window & Doors.
  • Recycled rubber pavers by Azek Vast.
  • Impact resistant stainless steel screening from Sentry.
  • Micro-mesh stainless steel gutter guard by Rhino.
  • Enclosed window blinds sealed between glass by ODL.
  • Invisi Door hidden door bookcase from Custom Service Hardware.
  • Zip & Mix FastSet Repair Mortar in sealable bag by Quikrete.
  • Propane powered portable generators from Generac.
  • Tough carbide tipped drill bits from Bad Dog Tools.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: This week Today’s Homeowner is on the road in Orlando, Florida, at the International Builders’ Show. There are acres of new ideas and materials for your home in this place. And if you stick around, we will find something you can use. Some of the most popular episodes that we do every year here on Today’s Homeowner is when we visit trade shows to show you some of the latest and greatest products for your home.

Allen Lyle: Today, we’re at the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando, Florida, for the International Builders’ Show. And we are about to hit the floor.

Danny Lipford: And the sign says it all. “It’s IBS time.” The Builders’ Show is produced each year by the National Association of Home Builders to give its members a chance to exchange ideas and see the latest and greatest materials and products for the home. Builders, remodelers, developers, designers and architects flock to this show to look for innovations that will help them do their jobs better. But it’s also quite an event, with every exhibitor vying for the attention of the attendees. And the first thing that catches Allen’s eye is this odd black box.

Allen Lyle: It’s vibrating. What is it?

Marylin Myers: Sound proofing it.

Allen Lyle: Sound proof. Whoa!

Marylin Myers: What it’s doing is it’s keeping the sound from going into the structure.

Allen Lyle: Have you got one big enough for a teenage daughter?

Marylin Myers: That’s a common question.

Danny Lipford: Some things are a little more low-key. Like this new in-wall supply valve for toilet applications from LSP Products.

Ethan Shull: We’ve actually integrated the angle stop into a box itself. So we’ve instantly eliminated all the bracketing, the angle stopping and all the things going on behind the wall, making it a little bit easier for the plumber to install. Plus, making it aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Danny Lipford: Besides being a more attractive finished application, the new valve also reduces the chance for leaks. At the Schluter booth, Allen has found another cool innovation for the bath, a linear shower drain.

Allen Lyle: See, I love getting phone calls before I come down to IBS because my friends at Schluter called and said, “Hey, you got to come see the new Kerdi line that we have got in place.” And honestly, I’m impressed. I love this. Think about it, if you’ve ever done a shower and I’ve done a couple of these, where you had to put the pan in and you had to go with those little either one inch or two-inch square tiles and everything else is just beautiful large tile… You don’t… It doesn’t look that good to me. I’ve got large titles now in the bottom of my shower because of this. You can place this anywhere you want. You’ve got all kinds of, look at those designs. The perforated, the stainless steel. If you don’t even want the curb, get rid of the curb and put the drain right there. This is a good idea.

Danny Lipford: Water heaters are another big part of a home’s plumbing system. And the folks at A.O. Smith are showing off their Mobile Marketing Vehicle which includes some of their newest offerings. Like a heat pump water heater called the Voltex, which has a larger tank to maximize efficiency.

Voltex Spokesman: It’s a very, very efficient way to heat the water using electricity.

Danny Lipford: Their next hybrid heater marries tankless water heater technology with a small highly-efficient reserve tank to offer consumers the best of both worlds. Boy, I love it when we find products that are just easier to install. That’s great for the contractor as well as the do-it-yourselfer.

Don, tell us about the Ultra Series.

Don Zapf: Well, it’s a new fan from Broan-NuTone. It’s got this great adjustable bracket. It can be installed retrofit and new construction.

Danny Lipford:  That’s good.

Don Zapf: So it’s really cool. It expands, it slides.

Danny Lipford:  And it reduces the amount of time you have to spend in the attic, I understand.

Don Zapf: Actually, with this product you don’t have to go in the attic at all.

Danny Lipford: Well, that’s great. That’s great.

Don Zapf: Unless you want to.

Danny Lipford: While we continue looking for the next big thing in home improvement, here at the International Builders’ Show, let’s check in with Joe for a simple solution.

Joe Truini: I just drilled these 13 different size holes using a single drill bit. That’s possible because I used a step drill bit. This single bit, will drill 13 different holes, ranging in diameter from about eighth-inch to half inch. And here is how it works.

Start drilling, and with each step of the drill, you’re getting a larger and larger hole. So we get started right here. There you go, that’s an eighth-inch. Now it’ll start cutting pretty quickly, and again, each step the hole gets larger and larger. There you go. Now, the trick to using a step drill is, when do you stop at exact right size hole, because you don’t want to stop and keep measuring. So here’s an additional tip.

Take a piece of tape and wrap it around the bit exactly where you want to stop drilling. In this case, about a quarter inch. Then you just keep drilling until you hit the tape. And then stop, and you get the exact size hole.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re scouting the aisles of the International Builders’ Show, and these exhibitors are using all kinds of gimmicks to get us into their booths. If you’ve ever wondered where the world’s largest paint chip was, it’s right here. The folks at Dow are calling attention to their booth with a sculptor who’s working in a block of their foam insulation. Ironically, the most interesting project here is their new Powerhouse Solar Shingle which works hard not to call attention to itself. These low-profile solar panels serve as both roofing and a sustainable power source. Boy, it’s really a challenge keeping up with all of the changes in technology here at the International Builders’ Show.

And in the Schlage booth, it’s amazing that not only do they have some great locks, they have a system that will monitor everything in your house. It can unlock your door, adjust your thermostat, turn your porch light on, monitor your pets and completely control your heating and cooling in your home.

Their sister company Trane’s been designing these fantastic energy-efficient units for years, but now they’ve redesigned the programmable thermostat. Check this out. Not only can you see it very well, which is good when your eyesight starts going bad, it also allows you to easily, very, very user-friendly adjust the temperature, when it’ll come on, when it’ll go off. Also, it can tell you exactly how much energy you’re using. So that maybe you can adjust your lifestyle a little bit to save a little money there. And humidity, it’ll tell you exactly what your humidity is in your home. And we always talk about changing filters, it’ll tell you when you need to change your filter, and a whole lot more. You can even download pictures in this because it’s also a digital picture frame. Unbelievable.

Even rustic materials have a hi-tech edge. These stone architectural accents from Fypon, aren’t really stone at all. They are made from light-weight high-density polyurethane so they’re easier to install than traditional materials. And they can mimic anything convincingly, including these wood beams. Over at the Eastman booth, Allen has found a new hi-tech molding that’s perfect for do-it-yourselfers.

Allen Lyle: Here at the Builders’ Show, certainly there’s plenty here for builders. But me, I like looking for things for homeowners, the do-it-yourselfers out there who like to tackle their own jobs. Now, when you look at molding, there are so many great things that you can do yourself. But if I can show you a way that you can eliminate some steps so it’s quicker, not as much labor, it looks better and the price is comparable, well, I’m sold. I hope you would be, too. And I found something right here.

This is the Finished Elegance. It’s something new from Eastman. It’s a surface that they have, but not the surface you think of. Cerfis with a “c.” What this is, there’s a polymer coating on their molding. This looks so beautiful. It is pre-finished. Everything is there. When you cut it, because of the surface that’s on here, it doesn’t splinter. The joints go together, just almost perfectly. You are eliminating the step that I hate the most, Danny gives me such grief about this, I hate painting. You don’t have to paint. It’s basically you cut it, you install it, putty the holes and you’re done. How easy is that?

Danny Lipford: For easy countertops, it’s hard to beat plastic laminate. But these tops don’t look like laminate because they’re using Formica’s new IdealEdge which can be installed by the fabricator or installer so that you don’t have to settle for flat edges or that tell-tale brown line along the seam. And all of the edges, including the curves, can get the same profile because the IdealEdge strips are flexible.

Allen Lyle: So, Shawn, let’s be honest about this. I first saw this, and I thought, “It’s about time.” ‘Cause how many decks have you and I put together? Like not together together, but…

Shawn Vernon: No, I got you. Yeah. Yeah.

Allen Lyle: So we’re putting this nice composite wood on wood framing.

Shawn Vernon: Yes. It’s about time.

Allen Lyle: Tell me about this.

Shawn Vernon: We are so excited for this. It’s not just a component. It’s an actual system. I mean, it’s developed by three components but it’s a complete system. So, whether you’re building a 10 by 10 deck or it’s a 3,000 square-foot multi-tier, you know, project you can build with it and simply with using just these three products.

Allen Lyle: Shawn, is it just for builders? Can homeowners do it?

Shawn Vernon: That’s what wonderful. We find that homeowners work with the product and they like it, and it’s very easy to work with. We also have a manual that walks through kind of step-by-step what you need through the process. From digging holes all the way to fastening the decking down. So, just by using the manual they get through the product, no problem.

Danny Lipford: Instead of mimicking wood over at Jeld-Wen they are reclaiming it and using it to make beautiful windows and doors. And they also have a great new window called the Tilt and Turn that opens in three different directions.

Meanwhile the folks at Eastman are making new wood last a lot longer. By altering the molecular structure of ordinary Southern yellow pine they’ve created a product they call Perennial Wood, which resists absorbing water so it doesn’t warp, rot or crack like normal lumber.

Boy, I always love the look of brick pavers. But this is a little different. It actually is not a brick paver at all. And Scott Sester is going to tell us exactly what it is. What is this thing?

Scott Sester: Hi, Danny. It is a paver made from recycled tires and plastics. No longer going into our landfills. The pavers are one-third the weight of concrete. They cut with traditional wood saws, miter saws and jigsaws. And because they absorb less than one percent of moisture, we guarantee they will not crack in a residential application.

Danny Lipford: Man, this is just so cool. What about the installation of it? And also I notice you have all kinds of different thicknesses and sizes and shapes and so forth. But what about exactly… How do-it-yourself-friendly is it maybe?

Scott Sester: You know, it’s a very friendly do-it-yourself product. Because it is light weight, you have all the tools in your garage to work with this. And it all fits on this grid. This is a 16″ x 16″ grid. Same material. Recycled tires and plastics, no longer going to landfills. But when you install this, you lay down your grids, then you take your pavers, whatever design you’re going to do, basket weave, herringbone.

Danny Lipford: Oh, so you can change that up?

Scott Sester: Absolutely. And mix and match colors as well. But when you’re installing this, you want to overlap a paver between two grids. Now, your whole sub-base is interconnected and your lines will have to be straight. You can’t have crooked lines with this grid system.

Danny Lipford: And I would think the kids would love to help you with this.

Scott Sester: We have a lot of kids that’ll help put down pavers. Because it is… Over and over people say, it’s like LEGOs for adults.

Danny Lipford: Wow! That’s awesome. While we continue the search here, let’s see what Jodi’s found at the Home Center for the Best New Product segment.

Jodi Marks: You know, I can’t think of too many home-improvement projects where I didn’t need one ladder or sometimes two. And, you know, having that many ladders around the house can be a little cumbersome and can also take up a lot of storage. Well, Shea and I are over here in the ladder section now and we think we’ve solved that problem, haven’t we?

Shea Pettaway: Yes, Jodi. We have a new compact extension ladder by Werner. It gives you a good carry handle.

Jodi Marks: Which is really important for an extension ladder.

Shea Pettaway: Yes, it is. It also gives you an easy transport and easy storage.

Jodi Marks: See, that’s great. Now, take a look at this. This is a 16-foot ladder. And this one is a 16-foot ladder. But look how long it is. Each piece is eight feet here. So to use it indoors, I mean, it pretty much has rendered itself useless ’cause you’re going to strike your ceiling. However, see this one right here, it is so compact that it shrinks down to six feet. This is perfect if you’re going to be just installing crown molding or if you have to get cut in for your paint trim. It is very easy to extend, when you need it. It’s very easy to knock it back down into place when you don’t. And like you say, it’s very light weight and easy to transport.

Danny Lipford: We are searching the International Builders’ Show for new ideas and products, but Allen seems to have found some entertainment along the way.  This new stainless steel screen system from Century not only stops insects, it’s so tough, it also provides protection from hurricanes and burglars. He also found a rugged gutter cover, called Rhino Gutter that reinforces the gutter and guarantees to keep debris out.

Rhino Spokesman: We got a good, better and best. Obviously a good is just a good… Everybody can’t afford the higher products. We figured somebody’s going to put the good on there and they know they’re going to replace it in about two seasons. Better, it’s got a 20-year no-clog warranty. The best has got a lifetime no-clog warranty.

Allen Lyle: Let me ask you this. Do you still have to get in there to clean those gutters?

Rhino Spokesman: Never. Never.

Allen Lyle: So, it’s worthwhile to spend the extra for the best.

Rhino Spokesman: I would say absolutely.

Danny Lipford: Another worthwhile idea is the window blind sandwiched between the glass panes of a window. And ODL has given that idea contemporary twist with this new light control system they call ARRAY. Invisi Door from Custom Service Hardware looks pretty traditional until you see it in action. Using a unique hinge system, this hidden door works in any 36-inch opening.

Brian, I’ll tell you what, we get so many questions about concrete and mortar repair. You guys have something here to make it a little easier, I understand.

Brian Brown: We do. We have taken one of our commercial grade products and put it into a much more user-friendly packaging.

Danny Lipford: Wow! I love the whole Ziploc bag, you’ve got the repair putty knife right there on the side. How does it work?

Brian Brown:  Simply zip open the top, go ahead and pull the bag open. You’re going to take 10 ounces of clear water. Pour this into the bag.

Danny Lipford: Doesn’t have to be bottled water, does it?

Brian Brown: No. Doesn’t have to be. As long as it’s clean cool water.

Danny Lipford: All right.

Brian Brown: Zip it closed. Then you want to take the bag and simply knead it for two to three minutes, until it’s a lump-free consistency, and this is going to activate the material. This is a very high-strength, rapid-setting product. It’s polymer modified. So it has a bonding agent that will bond.

Danny Lipford: Is that right? That means a lot. But people would love this because you’re not getting your hands dirty.

Brian Brown: Right. Right. You can see how clean it is here. So as long as that is fully mixed, and you zip the bag open, you can work right out of the bag.

Danny Lipford: Okay, let me give it a little try here. All right. Perfect. Okay, I see what you mean.

Brian Brown: And you can build this up and shape it and sculpt it as it’s put in place.

Danny Lipford: All right. I mean, so many people have those broken, you know, concrete steps on the front of their house. And that’s very workable.

Generac is making fuelling portable generators easier for its customers now by offering a new propane powered unit with onboard storage for the propane cylinder. Propane is a safer more efficient fuel for these tools, and now it’s also very convenient. Speaking of tools, Allen found a new drill bit that seems to be capable of doing just about anything.

Bad Dog Tools Spokesman: You’ve got the versatility of using a bit. Here. And without having to change it, you can go here. You can hammer drill with it. You can cut tile with it. You can cut stainless with it. And you can cut wood with it. Now, wood isn’t a very big challenge, but it’s a good heat insulator. An ordinary bit, when it’s left in wood too long, it will take the temper from that bit. I’m pretty sure that that would be considered too long.

Allen Lyle: Yeah.

Bad Dog Tools Spokesman: If you removed a common bit and it showed signs of being hot.

Allen Lyle: Look at that. I know.

Bad Dog Tools Spokesman: Like it was either smoking or had turned color.

Allen Lyle: Throw it away.

Bad Dog Tools Spokesman: It’s no longer useable.

Allen Lyle: Wow.

Danny Lipford: We spent the day asking questions in booth after booth. Now, it’s your turn with Ask Danny.

Gary Asks: What’s causing my wood floors to buckle? The crawl space seems to be dry.

Danny Lipford: I think everybody loves the look of a nice wood floor. But it’s not so nice-looking when it starts buckling, and that’s a problem that generally starts outside.

If your house is built up on piers, and many are, you might be surprised at how many problems can be caused by ground moisture. Now, it may look perfectly dry under your house. But the moisture’s there, and it’ll migrate up into your house, causing all kinds of headaches, including buckled floors. Here’s what you need to do.

Make sure you have adequate ventilation at all times throughout the year, and a great tip is to lay a piece of thick plastic. This is six mil plastic, a lot thicker than you might be used to, right on the ground, put a little sand around it. And if you catch this early enough, hopefully your wood floors will dry out and go back down.

Danny Lipford: Well, we covered all of the aisles of the International Builders’ Show inside the convention center, and like every year we found some pretty cool stuff.

Allen Lyle: But believe it or not, the show is not just in the convention center, out here in the parking lot they actually build these houses for the show, and when it’s over, the houses go, too.

Danny Lipford: And what’s good about that is we can see some practical applications of all of these products.

Allen Lyle: And speaking of practical applications, that’s what you’re going to see on future episodes of Today’s Homeowner. We are going to take some of those products and put them to use in our real world.

Danny Lipford: Exactly. Hey, thanks a lot for being with us here on Today’s Homeowner. We’ll see you next week.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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