Manufacturers create thousands of new LBM products every year, and if they had their way, ProSales would be celebrating every one. But we know you lack the shelf space to sell all these goods (and have even less time to read the reviews), so once a year, we pick the best of the best new products, the ones most worth your attention. Here are our selections for 2008.
Which products made the list? Again and again, we found four traits that pushed certain products ahead: they were green, convenient, innovative, or high tech. Often, these products had two or more of those qualities.
Why these traits? Well, green was an easy choice. It's the biggest trend in the building industry. Along with considering how products are made and what they contain, green consumers fret about issues such as indoor air quality, mold and mildew prevention, energy and water savings, emissions reduction, and other concerns. Stricter regulations also are leading manufacturers to make products more environmentally friendly. Many chosen products address one or more of these areas.
As for innovative, our choice products either broke completely new ground or had features over competitors that set them apart. For example, OZ-Post came up with a product that eliminates the need to dig post holes. Highmark Digital made the replacement-door process more efficient and a viable new foray for dealers. C.H. Hanson added features to a carpenter's pencil to turn it into a tool, not just a common item.
Convenient picks not only fit snugly into other 2007 trends, but some simply make life easier for builders and dealers.
Regarding high tech, a lot of such products came our way. Tools are the easiest area to see this. Technology makes them more compact and ergonomic, and batteries more efficient. Some boast other high-tech options, such as LCD screens and LED lights.
We held up this year's Product Review by a month to give extra time to see what was new at the 2008 International Builders' Show, held in February in Orlando, Fla. Among the trends there:
Tropical colors for composite decks and new, more environmentally friendly wood treatments made a good showing. Modern and furniture-style designs for cabinetry rose in popularity, and hand-scraped floors became a favorite among consumers. Homeowners also keep wanting more choices in the colors and finishes of their products, whether they are looking at grout or door hardware.
Low-maintenance products and products that stand up to hurricanes and earthquakes remain attractive choices.
Some manufacturers created package deals to add convenience to products, whether by offering several components in one system or teaming up with other companies to offer multifaceted selections.
Finger-scanning technology made an appearance, particularly in locksets. Anti-microbial treatments are finding their way into a variety of products, and automation, such as lighting controls, is helping make homes more efficient.
Aside from perusing the booths at the show, we compiled this report from favorites reported in past issues of ProSales as well as other Hanley Wood magazines. We also included product submissions that caught our eye but, for some reason, we didn't get a chance to cover in 2007. We hope that you not only enjoy the wide range of products in this issue, but that you find the choices interesting and helpful to your business.
Victoria Markovitz, Products Editor