Top 10 Picks from the 2011 International Builders’ Show
By: Allen Lyle
It’s that time of year again! The 2011 International Builders’ Show has come and gone, but not before I had a chance to walk the floors and take a look at all the amazing new products being offered to the building industry.
As is always the case, let me preface my list by saying I’m fully aware that I have quite likely overlooked something truly amazing. Nonetheless, I’m confident that my Best of IBS is more than deserving.
So, without further ado, here’s my “Top 10 List” in no particular order:
While having blinds between the glass in windows is nothing new, I haven’t seen the same feature in sliding glass doors.
ODL made an attempt to offer glass inserts to retrofit existing doors, but they discovered that door sizes varied from one glass door manufacturer to another, which made it next to impossible to offer a single product that would be successful.
So, they created their own door!
Here’s what I like about the ODL door:
- You never have to worry about dust on enclosed blinds. For me, that alone is worth the price of admission.
- Two easy slide controls operate the raising and lowering and opening and closing of the blinds. Eliminating dangling cords increases safety.
- Since the blinds are enclosed, they move in-sync with the door. I love that!
- They’re available with an optional low-profile retractable screen door, which I highly recommend.
I became a fan of hidden deck fasteners long ago. But, typically, you had to use a system that was made for a specific brand of decking, and the boards usually had to have grooves cut in the sides for clips to fit into, which were then fastened to the joists.
The CAMO system lets you attach practically ANY deck board (hardwood, cedar, composite, PVC) directly to the joist, and it does so with no pre-drilling and automatic spacing. The tool itself is called the Marksman. I got to try it out firsthand and it’s absolutely amazing how quickly it works.
The model pictured above is the Pro version, which is the one I’d purchase. However, for most homeowners who aren’t looking to build more than one deck in any given year, CAMO also is offering a DIY model in a kit that comes complete with the deck screws, specialty driver bit and the Marksman. Keep your eyes peeled for this one in the home centers. It’s a must-buy.
When the weather’s mild, I love opening up my doors and windows to let in fresh air. Unfortunately, not all doors have a visually appealing option for adding a screen. I’m thinking particularly of some double French doors and several styles of front entries.
Therma-Tru really outdid themselves with this offering. Why didn’t anybody think of this before? Forget the screens and storm doors!
Therma-Tru sidelights are:
- Hinged allowing you to let in extra light and fresh air.
- Screens are easily removed for cleaning.
- Feature multi-point locking gears.
Therma-Tru’s real exclusivity, though, is the fact that they also offer decorative glass options, so you don’t have to settle for a one-size-fits-all industrial look to your doors!
As long as we’re on the subject of screens, I totally fell in love with the Distinction Screen at the Phantom Screens booth. Unlike many of their retractable models, the Distinction is a manual screen door. What makes it “distinct” is the fold-away pleated mesh that makes up the screen.
It’s like an accordion, so it expands to cover the opening easily, but then folds away just as quickly and it takes up very little space.
The bottom rail is almost non-existent, which is a true benefit when it comes to wheelchair access or eliminating a tripping hazard. And, unlike other retractables that have to be either all the way open or all the way closed, you can place the screen in any position.
Add to that Phantom’s many custom color options and limited lifetime warranty, and I guarantee you’ll feel good about having this in your home.
Well, they did it again! Last year, Spyder Products introduced the Spyder-Scraper, an attachment that turned your reciprocating saw into a high speed floor scraper (or any other surface). It was an instant hit!
This year, in addition to offering a larger size scraper, the Spyder team came up with two more attachments. Since I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, I’m putting them both on my list. Technically, that would make this my Top 10 plus 2 . . . but who’s counting?
The Bore-Blade is a recip blade with teeth on every side, which allows you to cut up, down, left and right without having to re-position the blade. With teeth on the very tip, it means no more drilling a pilot hole first—cutting down on your cutting time!
Speaking of cutting time, the Grout-Out attachment is covered in a carbide grit to shave tons of time off any tile removal, repair or re-grouting job. Snap this baby into your reciprocating saw, and you’ll actually enjoy removing old grout.
My bathroom is in good shape, but I’m re-grouting it just for the fun of it now!
These are all durable, but inexpensive attachments, and they belong in your toolbox.
Fiber cement siding is rapidly growing in popularity as an exterior sheathing and it’s a great alternative to wood, especially with its high resistance to water damage. But, if you’ve ever tried cutting it, you know what a mess it is. I usually purchase the cheapest circular saw I can find, because the dust from cutting the fiber cement will ruin the saw.
Ok, this might not be for everybody . . . but it should be! The TurboShear is an attachment for your cordless or electric drill, and you can easily cut through the standard 5/16” siding with the lightweight aluminum shear head.
The lighter weight also means you can make the cut with just one hand, leaving the other one free to steady your work.
Other attachments are available for cutting 1/2” backerboard, asphalt shingles, metal and even rock! While this is a tool designed with the professional in mind, I’d love to see these available at tool rentals for the occasional DIY project.
There are some things you just don’t want to talk about. The unsavory mess that can be created by some plungers is one of those things. What caught my eye with the PlungeMAX is the fact that it won the Handy Innovation Award and the Handyman Club of America Seal of Approval.
As one of the Handyman Club’s Charter Members, I know they only recognize products that stand out in design, features and performance.
Here’s the theory: the bellows design rests on the rim of the toilet, so it never touches the foul water. The bellows action is created as the other end is forced downward by the toilet lid. This forces a blast of air 25 times the volume created by a standard plunger, releasing the clog.
Since the PlungeMAX never touches the water, it can be folded up and stored quickly and easily.
OK, this next pick may be a little hard to explain. This is a concrete roof tile that can be installed on either commercial or residential buildings. But this tile has an added extra ingredient that helps mitigate airborne pollutants. That’s a fancy way of saying it eats smog!
Actually, it’s more of a transformation process by means of the embedded surface additive that acts something similar to a catalytic converter. As smog particulates of nitrous oxide drift down and land on the roof, sunlight creates a photo catalyst that, essentially, nullifies the smog particles into a safer substance.
Whenever it rains, the new material is washed safely away. But the technical reasons really aren’t all that important. What matters is that it’s been proven to work, and a standard roof size of 2,000 square feet can mitigate the same amount of nitrogen oxide produced by one car driving up to 10,800 miles.
I really enjoyed stopping at this booth and chatting with the folks from Plug ’n Save Energy Products. Here’s an interior shutter custom made for your windows or doors that has solar panels embedded on one side to harvest the energy of the sun during the daytime. It then pumps that solar energy right into your home’s electrical system.
It’s a pretty simple concept, too. The more energy you pump into your home, the less you use from the grid.
Let’s say you only cover a patio door. In an average week with nominal sunlight, you could produce about 21,000 watts of power, saving on average over $25 each month on your power bill.
In addition to the solar savings, these interior shutters are good-looking, made from renewable bamboo, and use no VOC stains or oils.
And just for fun, here’s my Plus One Choice:
Every year I see the massage chairs, but I’m always too busy walking the floors checking out the building products to sit down and enjoy them. This year, I indulged.
My initial reaction has always been, “How cheesy can you get?” After all, I’ve experienced the neck massage pillows from Walmart, and they’re not even close to an actual massage, so needless to say, I didn’t expect much.
The minute I hit the button on the Panasonic EP-MS40GK, though, my whole world perspective changed! I think Panasonic sews a tiny little massage therapist into each of these chairs. Starting at the neck, traveling all the way down to your feet and back again, you’ll experience Nirvana.
You have several levels to choose from (I went for the full 15-minute wash, wax and lube. I’m pretty sure it rotated my tires, too.) The leg and foot massager is discreetly built into a fold-away ottoman.
The only complaint I have is the lime green color. But, to be honest, my eyes were closed the whole time, so I didn’t notice it. Is it worth $2,500? I guess that’s part of the “luxury” of the chair. And, quite frankly, after a long day of walking the concrete floors of the Orange County Convention Center . . . it was worth it.