New home products at the builders’ show: touchless faucets, heated carpet and light-up drains
If you missed this week’s International Builders’ Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, don’t worry.
It will be back next year. And the year after. And the year after that.
Representatives of the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders signed an unprecedented four-year commitment to Las Vegas, ensuring that the international trade show for the home-building industry will be here annually through 2016.
Organizers had estimated that 50,000 people would attend this year’s three-day event, which ended Thursday. But early counts indicated attendance was closer to 62,000.
The good showing offers another piece of evidence that the economy is recovering, particularly in the real estate and home-building sectors.
Based on low-range attendance estimates, the builders' convention was expected to have a non-gaming economic impact of $250 million on the city, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Better still, the show, which displays home products, is expected to be even bigger next year because it will run concurrently with the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in what is being billed as “Design and Construction Week.” Organizers believe the presence of both shows, which will take place Feb. 4-6, 2014, will attract 75,000 builders, remodelers, developers, architects, designers and other industry professionals.
In 2015, Surfaces, the largest floor-covering industry event in North America, will be added to the lineup. It will be paired with StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, which focuses exclusively on the natural stone industry. StonExpo will be at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
What did the builders see at this year’s show? Here’s a sampling of the products on display:
Colorful Formica counters
Formica Corp., of Cincinnati, has found that its kitchen counters are making a comeback. The company has existed for 100 years.
But Formica Corp. discovered that today’s younger home buyers don’t want the décor their parents had. They want something more colorful.
At this year’s show, Formica displayed vibrant-colored counters with retro leanings. The Formica 180FX mimics granite counter tops at about one-tenth the cost of stone.
Among the colors available: Red Eclipse and Mint Dot Scan.
Heavy-duty patio door screens
Meshtec screens look like ordinary door and window screens but are virtually impenetrable, said Len Morris, general manager of Lakeland, Fla.-based Meshtec International USA.
Sold under the Guarda brand, the screens are made of high-tensile marine-grade stainless steel, so they won’t corrode.
They have a three-point locking system and reduce ultraviolet rays by 60 percent. There's also an emergency release for safety.
The screen-door version sells for $1,000, but should never have to be replaced, Morris said.
Most people think of drains as circular steel plates on the floor of a shower.
Quartz by Aco, of Casa Grande, Ariz., has taken them to a new level.
The company showed a variety of drain systems with several grate options and patterns. There were linear drains that run 3 or 4 feet long and square 6-by-6-inch versions. Both have the option of including a battery-powered LED light that brightens when water makes contact.
The drains range in price from $89 to $99.
Radiant floor heating systems
It's often a race to the closet to find slippers when your feet hit a cold floor. The K&L Cable Warm Surfaces system puts an end to that by heating the floor beneath hard or carpeted surfaces.
Armen Kazandjian, of the Lachine, Quebec-based K&L Cable, says each system includes wiring with Teflon insulation, a copper shield, PVC jacket and thermostat probe. The cost of the system depends on the square footage of the floor. About 10 square feet would run $150, while 280 square feet would cost about $926, Kazandjian said.
There’s also less heat loss than with convection and forced air heating systems, and energy use is very low for an electric system — about 30 percent cheaper than an electric baseboard heating system, Kazandjian said.
And, there’s no maintenance costs.
Kazandjian also introduced a snow-melt product with heating wire embedded in recycled rubber tire material. It costs about 80 cents a day to operate it and has a snow detector that automatically turns the system on and off.
Shower head with wireless speaker
The lines at the show were long to see Kohler’s new Moxie shower head that cradles a wireless speaker with a magnet.
Leslie Bronson, of Kohler, Wis.-based Kohler Co., said the speaker connects by Bluetooth to any smart streaming device, so it’s easy to listen to music, audiobooks or the radio while showering.
The speaker has a rechargeable lithium battery that maintains a charge for about seven hours of play time.
The shower heads come in white or chrome and sell for $199.
Touchless kitchen faucet
Kohler also showed its Sensate touchless kitchen faucet.
The gooseneck faucet comes in chrome ($675) or stainless steel ($800).
The faucet has a sensor on the underside of the top of the gooseneck that links to another sensor at the base of the faucet. Pass your hand through the invisible beam and the water turns on. Another wave of the hand and it shuts off.
Fire suppression systems
The Sprinkler Fitters United Association Local Union 669 wasn’t at the show to endorse any particular product. But members did try to persuade homebuilders and residents to consider a safety upgrade that’s standard equipment in many commercial and industrial buildings.
Las Vegas resident John Panici gave hourly demonstrations of residential sprinkler fire suppression systems.
The goal is to eliminate deaths by fire.