Signs of the homebuilding industry’s slow but steady recovery have been evident across the expo floors of the International Builders' Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show — held concurrently as Design and Construction Week — in recent years. The latest iteration, now underway in Orlando, FL, shows continued growth in its crowded aisles and product manufacturer booths touting full product launches in addition to typical line upgrades.
Construction Dive is on the ground in Orlando this week, and below, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks for new products from the show. These building materials, fixtures and surfaces mind efficiency while also eyeing safety, luxury, tech or even just a little extra convenience.
The industry is sharpening its focus on fall protection, and manufacturers are doing their part to create products that contribute to improved job site safety. Among the latest is DuPont’s new Tyvek Protec roofing underlayment. An embossed surface offers traction for installers walking on sloped roofs, while a coating on the back prevents sheets from slipping. A layer of lamination protects against water seepage.
Some showerheads are, indeed, better than others. A walk through the portion of the trade show devoted to kitchen and bath products reveals that the standby product can be upgraded with any number of smart features, design styles and flow rates. Kohler’s goes elemental, however, by turning the water stream into a rain shower. Real Rain uses gravity instead of a pressurized system to draw water through more than 700 nozzles in the 19-square-inch, ceiling-mounted silicone sprayface. In its regular spray mode, the system offers a 2-gallon-per-minute flow rate.
Tesla made waves with its announcement late last year of plans to throw its hat in the rooftop solar ring, but it wasn’t the first and it surely won’t be the last company to do so. At Design and Construction Week, roofing-products maker GAF showed its new off-the-shelf rooftop photovoltaic system, DecoTech, expanding its solar services to offer a solar-collecting product of its own. The PV system installs directly to the roof deck, not requiring shingles underneath, allowing installers to flash up to and around the unit. Modules are daisy-chained, and the panels are integrated and interlocking.
Identifying and determining the extent of moisture infiltration in a space or installation can be a challenge with conventional testing methods. Flir takes that process digital with this handheld device. It not only identifies where moisture is occurring, using a pin or pinless moisture meter and thermal hygrometer, but it also helps to gauge the extent of the infiltration and monitor repair progress.
While smart home technology has stolen the show recently, some of the biggest innovations on the expo floor this year were decidedly low-tech. One that caught our eye was Bosch’s redesigned dishwasher interior, complete with a deeper third rack that can hold bowls and other vessels in addition to silverware. Although the company also debuted a line of connected appliances for its Home Connect platform at the show, we appreciate that this redesign addresses a persistent user experience challenge, simply.
Another new product launch in the vein of nice-to-have kitchen upgrades is new sprayhead technology for Delta's kitchen faucets that aims to reduce splashing when washing dishes. ShieldSpray technology delivers a single jet stream surrounded by a cone of water intended to contain the spray while, the company says, reducing wash time. It will be made available on a selection of Delta’s pull-down kitchen faucet models beginning this year.
Although not a new product, this one has a story worth knowing. Salvaged from the "snow fences" strategically placed along Wyoming’s rural thoroughfares, the planks are repurposed as exterior cladding or interior paneling in applications seeking a rustic, weathered look. The company has been reclaiming the wood since 1999. Because it spends so much time outside — around 10 years in its fence application — the product doesn’t need to be kiln-dried. The company’s mix includes pine, Douglas fir and spruce from the Mountain West region.
What’s a homebuilding tradeshow these days without a high-tech toilet? Toto continued to deliver this year with this wall-mounted addition to its Connect+ line. Featuring the WaterSense label for efficient water consumption, the unit features a pre-drilled hole near its seat through which the power cord and hose are routed, bringing the water and electronics supplies together. The unit is elevated off the floor for aesthetics and ease of cleaning.
Home security is a primary component of the burgeoning Internet of Things, and window and door locks are among the analog features becoming Web-enabled. Andersen’s windows and patio doors can be specified with wireless sensors that determine whether they are closed, open or unlocked. In addition to offering consumers peace of mind around home security, this product also reveals whether the window is latched and can help to monitor energy efficiency, as turning the lock helps to complete the seal.
One of the biggest products on the tradeshow floor is actually quite tiny — relatively speaking. Building material dealer 84 Lumber brought one of its tiny house models to the expo and gave attendees a walkthrough. The Countryside is one of four tiny house plans offered by the company. Each is portable on wheeled bases and measures less than 200 square feet. The interiors feature a kitchenette, seating, a small bathroom fitted with a shower, a sink and toilet, and a loft sleeping area with a queen-sized bed. While the footprint is small, the price is relatively steep: $79,884 for a move-in ready model, according to the company’s website.