Innovative Products from the International Builders’ Show 2007

From flat wiring and tankless water heaters to engineered ceramic tile and soundproofing drywall, we take a look at a range of innovative products for your home from the International Builders’ Show.

Read episode article to find out more.


Danny Lipford: You won’t believe what we found this week at the International Builders’ Show.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects, tips and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: Welcome to the International Builders’ Show where over 100,000 building industry professionals all get together to check out all the new things that are happening in the building field. All the new products that are being introduced, all the new tools that are available, and even in this booth you’re able to grab a tool and actually use it to kind of check out exactly how it works. They’re also able to educate themselves not only on the new products that are here but also there are hundreds of seminars they can choose from to just make them a better contractor. Well this week we’re going to take you behind the scenes and show you dozens of products that we found that we think are really, really cool so stay with us.

We’re here at the International Builders show in Orlando, Florida and all of the manufacturers here seem to really be trying to make the whole building process a lot easier for builders. Now if it’s easier for builders it’s going to be easy for you, if you’re thinking of a good little work around your home. Here’s a good example of that.

Maybe you’re thinking of remodeling your bathroom. Look at this tub surround, really does look like real ceramic, it’s just a three piece section, very easy to install. Let me show you how easy. Now, here’s an example of one that we already have the two panels in place, the third panel goes in so easy. You have reinforcement on the backside of it and all you have to do is clip it in place on top then slide it right in place, a few nails, drywall and you’re through with this. Really does look great. Here are a few other great products for the interior of your home.

To ensure easier, faster, and more water tight installation of custom tile showers, Sluter has created a system that uses a prefab pan, instead of relying on a labor intensive grout bed. The pan is mated to a drain system featuring a square drain grate which makes tile cuts easier, then the whole shower is sealed with a waterproof membrane before the tiles are installed.

Now when you get out of the shower what could be better than a nice, warm towel? So Jacuzzi is introducing a towel warming drawer in 24 and 36-inch widths that heats up your towels to 120 degrees in just 15 minutes.

And for a warm cozy spot in almost any room in the house, Lowpi is introducing what they call a portrait style fireplace. These small gas fueled units will fit almost anywhere. They’re also available with an aromatherapy feature to further enhance the enjoyment of the fireplace.

A flexible ductwork is common in heating and cooling systems; but it often tears, creating energy wasting leaks. Thermoflex has improved performance by replacing the lightweight polyester liner for the fiberglass cloth liner impregnated with vinyl. It won’t tear or burn, so it should virtually last forever.

If peace and quiet is what you’re after, Quiet Rock just might have the answer. This drywall is backed with a material that dampens vibrations much like it does on this cymbal. Reducing transmitted sounds by up to 75 percent.

Hey, there’s also some fun stuff here like these custom interior doors from JELD-WEN, including one that’s helping to raise funds for the American Heart Association.

You know we’ve always heard it’s never a good idea to run an extension cord or even speaker wire under a piece of carpet. Well that’s still true unless you know about flat wire technology. Check this out. Now under a piece of carpet you can actually route cable or phone or 12-volt lighting from one side of the room to the other by applying this material and then carpeting right over it. Now look at the material itself, it’s as thin as a business card, you put adhesive on it, then you can use it to route a variety of different things within a room. But here’s what’s really neat about it, you’re able to make it disappear by applying joint compound over it and painting it the same color as your wall, just like they’ve done here. That’s pretty cool, and think about how much time that would save and money that would save in your next interior renovation project. Now next year it’ll be available to route 120-volt electricity, think about how much money that’ll save.

The flat wire system is all about function that you don’t see, but here’s a change for you home that’s very obvious. The new lift oven from Gaggenau is different and very cool or should we say hot. At the touch of a button the glass ceramic base lowers down to the counter level for easy loading or unloading; and since we all know that heat rises, very little of it is lost when the oven is open. This not only makes the lift oven more efficient, it’s also safer because there’s no need to reach into a hot oven to retrieve the dish.

We found another cool appliance: this one is a prototype in the Whirlpool booth. This system called central park allows you to park or dock a DVD screen or digital picture frame on the front of the fridge.

On a more practical note the folks at Broan-NuTone are showing off their Bath Fan Upgrade Kit, which we recently featured in one of our Best New Product segments. They’re also unveiling the smart sense system which combines individual fans throughout the home with a central master control to monitor and manage ventilation for the whole house.

And for those of you who have sacrificed an entire Saturday to install a ceiling fan, Hunter is introducing the five-minute fan. This unit comes 90 percent preassembled and requires almost no tools to hang it.

We also found some cool DIY friendly flooring options like this floating hardwood floor from Armstrong. It’s a wood floor that snaps together just like the laminate floors that so many homeowners are fond of.

This is another great looking floor. And it may appear like it’s a ceramic floor, but actually it’s a crushed limestone composite and has pretty unique features. First of all it’s a lot thinner than regular ceramic, so that will make it a lot easier and a lot of remodeling around your home to use this material. And also for some reason, it’s a lot warmer to the touch than traditional ceramic. That’s kind of nice on those cold mornings in the bathroom or in the kitchen, but here’s one of the most important differences. The durability. You know if you’ve ever dropped anything heavy on one of your ceramic floor tiles and it broke, boy that is tough cutting that one tile out and replacing it, but watch how durable this is. Steel ball dropped right in the middle of the tile, no damage at all, that’s pretty cool.

Hey we’ve looked at a lot of products for the inside of your home. Next, we’ll show you some of things you can do outside.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: Decades ago a 2×4 was cut out of the forest and brought to the job site and it measured exactly 2 inches by 4 inches. Nowadays, as you probably know, in an ultimate case of downsizing, a 2×4 actually measures 1½ inches thick by 3½ inches wide. And that lumber, that nominal dimension is carried out throughout all lumber sizes. For example a 2×6 is actually 5½ inches wide by 1½ inches thick.

Now any board wider than 6 inches is reduced in width by three quarters of an inch. For example here’s a 2×8 but it only measures 7¼ inches and this 2×12 is 11¼. So again, any board 6 inches or narrower is reduced in width by only a half inch but any board wider than 6 inches is reduced in width by three quarters of an inch.

Now, all of this probably sounds pretty confusing now, but the way to solve this problem is bring your tape measurer with you. And the next time you go to the lumber yard you’ll be sure to get exactly what you need.

Danny Lipford: Welcome back to the International Builders Show here in Orlando. Now, so far we’ve looked at some pretty innovative products for the inside of your home, but there’s a lot of things here for the exterior as well. Now, we’ve seen a number of different landscape ideas, all kinds of roofing like you wouldn’t imagine and a big trend we’re seeing is what you see behind me: materials that look like the real thing but are actually a simulated panel.

Now here’s how this particular stone look works. Starts with a panel just like this, you start at the bottom of the wall, you nail it, or screw it, clip it to the wall and then you work your way right on up and look what you end up with. And because the installation is so much easier than building it than actually with a mason doing all of the work, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. Plus the R-value that you obtain really makes your house a lot more energy efficient. Now, this is just one idea for the exterior of your home.

If you already have a masonry exterior on your home but would like to change the color, Boral bricks has a new solution that they say is better than painting and less expensive. Recoat is a texture masonry coating that’s five times thicker than paint and can be sprayed directly on bricks, blocks, or stone, without the use of a primer. It’s available in 30 different colors at the cost of around 30 cents per square foot, so it may be the answer if you’re looking for a change.

Low maintenance materials are always popular with homeowner, and we’ve found two great cellular PVC solutions for wrapping exterior columns without removing the old ones. Wrap and snap from Royal Wood begins flat and wraps around columns from 4×4 up to 10×10 with it’s snap mechanism and an adhesive holding it all in place.

Fypon’s system consists of two preassembled pieces that mate together making it possible to create both tapered and non tapered columns. They’re also introducing a group of rustic faux wood urethane trim components, called the Southwest Collection, that has the character of wood without the cost, weight or maintenance issues.

For maintenance free fences the folks at TimberTech are unveiling a line of fencing made from their composite material featuring metal reinforcement in the stringer components. They’ve also added a concealed fastener system for their Earth Wood line of deck boards.

The dead bolt is a familiar security device, but Kwikset is making it even more user friendly with the introduction of smart scan. The first residential biometric keyless entry system. In plain language it scans your finger print to unlock the door. It works on most standard doors and is powered by a set of four double A batteries, so there’s no special wiring required, and of course you don’t have to worry about forgetting your keys.

To dress up the door itself, Entrypoint is displaying their system for adding decorative glass to an existing door right in your front yard. Technicians come to your home, remove the door from it’s hinges, cut an opening, install the decorative glass, and return the door to it’s location in your home, all in about an hour. It’s an easy convenient way to really dress up your front door.

For the back door or doors JELD-WEN is offering a folding door system that will meet in a 90-degree corner without the need for a corner post. Great for bringing the outside in.

Now for those who are concerned about keeping the outside out, especially during severe weather, Simonton is adding an impact resistant sliding door to its popular Storm Breaker line, security and a view.

Now, window screens are nothing new, but we certainly found some new options for them. The folks at Phantom Screens have been offering retractable screens for years, from large to small applications but we also found their screens offered as a factory option on some JELD-WEN windows.

Now, over at the Weather Shield booth, they have a similar setup that opens and retracts as the window is opened or closed. The screen itself is the subject of improvement at Anderson, where the microfine stainless steel true screen offers significantly better visibility combined with greater protection from insects.

In addition to some very interesting exterior building trends we found probably the biggest trend we’ve seen in building in a lot years: green building products, which basically means using products that are very environmentally friendly and those that can save you a lot on your energy bill by making your home more energy efficient.

Now, this company manufactures an insulation for your home that contains no formaldehyde at all, which has been a problem in the past. Outgassing inside your home, which can negatively affect your indoor air quality, so that’s a good move.

So while you’re checking out our Best New Products of the week, I’m gong to head down to see if I can find a few more products that fit into that green category.

Danny Lipford: If you have pets, a smoker, or carpet stains in your home, then you might be concerned that there are lingering odors. And while you might not be able to smell them, others can. Carpet cleaning can only go so far, but to really remedy the problem you’ll eventually need to replace the floor coverings. You might be thinking to completely avoid that same problem in the future you’ll have to install something other than carpet like ceramic or wood but that’s not the case.

This particular carpet, called Puresque, has a salt based backing, and it’s designed to capture and eliminate odors and pollutants. So if you’re ready for new flooring but not quite ready to say goodbye to warm comfortable carpet underfoot, now you don’t have to. The carpet is available in sculptured looks in polyester or also in nylon, and the nylon really feels softer than a lot of other carpets out there.

But either way you’ll have the assurance that your carpet looks, feels and smells a lot better.

We’re walking the aisles of the International Builders’ show here in Orlando, and while most of these booths are dedicated to show you all kinds of different innovative products, some are dedicated strictly to information. And this is a good example, there’s a variety of different government agencies here to share with you some of the latest information on building an efficient home, solar power, and other green building practices.

Manufacturers and distributors are also busy educating these construction pros on the ends and outs of green building. Because they know that the success or failure of a particular product or practice is often in the hands of the builder. One of those products is a new line of solar panels from Sharp that’s designed to offer more streamline installation.

Protecting a home from the effects of the sun is the goal of Reflective Rough Wrap from TVM building products. This full-coated housewrap stops air and moisture infiltration like traditional products, but it also acts as a radiant barrier blocking up to 96 percent of radiant heat transfer. It’s a real energy saver.

For inside insulation, the UltraFit fiberglass spray-on system from Guardian is a pretty cool innovation. This loose fiberglass contains a powered adhesive that is activated by water as it is blow into the wall cavities where it sticks together; creating a more dense, efficient blanket than batting insulation. There is no waste with this system because the excess material can be scrapped off, vacuumed up, and reused.

One definition of a green building product is one that will save our natural resources. And one of our most valuable resources – water. In the past toilets would use up to 3 gallons of water every time you flushed them. That can use a lot of water over the course of a year. Several years ago, they changed that and the federal government mandated that all toilets use only 1.6 gallons, which made a big difference in conserving water. Now, there is an effort to lower that by 20% to 1.2 gallons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t become the law in the next few years.

Now, they were able to do this on these toilets by redesigning all the mechanisms in the tank portion, itself. And, it looks like that, a little bit different. They’ve also added a few other features to these toilets that are kind of nice. The quiet close lids that kind of keep down a lot of noise in your house as well. Now these are just a few of the toilets we found, that can really save water.

At the VitrA booth there are a variety of water conserving options, including one that uses a larger number of water outlets inside the bowl and a more efficient trap design to make 1.2 gallons of water as effective as 1.6. The Hot2O system from Fafco is a solar water heating system that’s designed specifically for do it yourselfers, and it’s packaged in just one single box. The solar collectors are made from polymers instead of heavy glazed copper, so a single person can install them using just ordinary household tools. The system is less expensive than the traditional options, and with water heating savings, up to 50%, plus solar energy tax credits, it should pay for itself in 2 to 4 years.

Another great option for heating water is this Takagi tankless unit. It is designed to save space, as well as energy, because at just under 14 inches wide, it will fit inside a normal stud cavity and deliver up to 7 gallons of hot water per minute.

At a show like this, not only are you able to see tons of very interesting products for the home, you are also able to pick up a lot of information on different building techniques and different systems. And you can really see what some of the current building trends are. But I will tell you more than that, you can get real, real tired, so I’m gonna take a little break right now while you check out this week’s around the yard.

Tricia Craven Worley: One of the special things about older homes like this is the fabulous masonry, including this wonderful retaining wall that’s been here since about the 30’s. Doesn’t it look great? Well, this retaining wall has been holding back the soil very successfully since then, but there are other ways to build a retaining wall that might fit your budget a little bit better.

One is called dry stacking, it’s a look that I really really like. It has no mortar, but it probably has to be done by a professional. But some things that you can do yourself are to build, for example, a battered wall. And this is using blocks, they generally weigh about 50 lbs, and you can buy them at a home center store. And they are put at an angle or a slope going up, retaining the dirt that you need to secure. You want to work at a slope about 1-inch to 1-foot.

Of course there are other ways to create retaining walls, and one is just cinderblock and rebar, but it is so unattractive when you consider all of the other ways that you can do it yourself.

Danny Lipford: I hope you enjoyed our visit to Orlando, here at the International Builders’ show. Boy it’s a lot of work making it up and down all these miles of aisles. Hey, we found some great innovative products that are designed to make you home more attractive, more comfortable, and certainly more energy efficient.

Now some of these products are so new, they are not even on the market yet, so keep your eyes open for those. Also, make sure you stay with us over the coming months, because we will be featuring a lot of these products on renovation projects, all over the country. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you soon.


  1. Hello Mr. Lilpford, I’m Roberta kellish I wondering are there any roof material that can be used to make it so much easier? And also for the front porch I like to put up my own screen put really don’t no how are what to do. And could u also tell me what to do to make my bathroom walls at my shower looj so much better? I need a change.My home is old and i’d Like to change it as much as I can. Thank you


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