New Looks Highlight International Builders' Show

February 13, 2012
Meetings & Events

Orlando, Fla.—Window and door customers want “bigger, simpler and more glass,” according to Kolbe & Kolbe’s Cindy Bremer at last week’s International Builders’ Show. That view was shared by many, with product design and aesthetics being prominent discussion topics among industry exhibitors on the floor of the Orange County Convention Center.

 ODL's new Array doorlite attracted much attention to its booth.

New designs were most prevalent among door industry producers. Therma-Tru Doors was highlighting an expanded range of privacy glasses for its door lites, with Dave Randich, president of the door maker, noting the growing popularity of “simpler and more contemporary” glass designs, as well demand for light and privacy.

Contemporary designs were also showcased in the Masonite booth. John Walsh, the company’s lead designer, attributes the shift to the growing buying power of generations X and Y. These younger homeowners and homebuyers have different design preferences than their parents and grandparents and are moving away from traditional looks, preferring a cleaner, more contemporary style.

Contemporary style certainly marked one of the most unique new products featured at this year’s show. The Array doorlite from ODL features two perforated metal panels that can be moved with the twist of a knob to offer varying levels of privacy and light. The supplier’s Bobbi Locke explained that product’s unique “industrial” aesthetic is well suited for modern and urban homes, noting that it was generating significant interest at the show.

Not all the design talk focused on contemporary styles, however. Glasscraft Door Corp. was showcasing its new fiberglass doors featuring not only a realistic woodgrain, but distress marks and other details to provide the look of knotty alder and other rustic styles. The company’s Matthew O’Shea noted that the line was attracting significant interest, as were a number of its wrought iron offerings, including doorlite units featuring a between-the-glass composite grille.

 Kolbe & Kolbe featured a dramatic corner window display with motorized awnings in its booth.

The popularity of bigger and more contemporary style products was also evident in the continued presence of numerous suppliers of oversized multipanel folding and sliding systems. Although they were not as prominent as they have been at recent shows, this year’s event once again featured traditional manufacturers in this segment, such as Caoba, NanaWall, Solar Innovation and Weiland. From Florida, WinDoor Inc. was on hand to show its large-opening doors, as was Custom Window Systems, which featured a new a new sliding patio door featuring reinforced composite framing.

Fewer Windows
There was much to talk about on the door side of the business in Orlando, but fewer window manufacturers were once again evident at this year’s IBS. This year, Andersen and Milgard joined Atrium, Hurd, Pella and many others on the list of major window and door manufacturers passing on this show while the home construction market struggles, leaving Kolbe & Kolbe, Marvin and Ply Gem with the largest window displays in Orlando.

See IBS 2012 Snapshots
for a look at more photos
from Orlando

Marvin was highlighting a new window opening control device on its casements, as well as new custom sizing options on its Integrity line. Ply Gem was once again highlighting its Designed Exterior approach, designed to enable builders to easily combine not only its windows and doors, but its siding, stone and trim products to create different housing styles. Ply Gem is now expanding its approach from the new construction to the remodeling front, explained the company’s Chris Pickering. It plans to work with dealer and remodeler customers to help them to turn replacement projects into true value-added design upgrades.

Vinyl window makers were particularly few and far between at this year’s show. One exception was YKK AP, which was featuring a new impact patio door, as well as an app that calculates estimated energy savings for homeowners upgrading their windows. Well established now in the Southeast, the company looks to continue expanding its market reach northward and westward, reported Christopher Burk.

Also in Orlando was NuView, a new division of Canadian Thermo Windows targeting the new construction market. The manufacturer was showing its push-out casements and horizontal sliders featuring retractable screens, as well as a new patio door system that allowed panels to be stacked on one side to create a large opening.

 Florida's Custom Window Systems featured a new large sliding door system manufactured with a reinforced composite framing system.

Industry Suppliers
In addition to window and door makers, this year’s event did feature a variety of industry suppliers. Quanex Building Products returned for the second year in a row, this time previewing its new EnergyQuest vinyl window line targeted at the remodeling and replacement market. Complementing the EnergyCore fusion-insulated window system, the new system is designed to provide fabricators with EnergyQuest an affordable new energy efficient option to meet or exceed new Energy Star criteria set to take effect in 2013, according to the supplier’s Mike Hovan. “Working with our OEM partners, we identified an opportunity to create a high-performance window system that will provide the market with long-term energy savings, versatility, and aesthetic appeal,” he explained.

Royal Building Products was also on hand, although it focused on trim options for windows. The company has worked with noted designer Marianne Cusato, who has put together a number of basic trim packages combining its various mouldings. Builders and homeowners like the idea of upgrading the look of windows, but don’t know where to begin when looking at a catalog of profiles, she noted. By simplifying choices, she said, it will be easier for Royal’s channel partners to sell these enhanced window options.

One of the busier booths at this year’s show belonged to Schlage Lock, which has expanded the capabilities of its SchlageLink system to create Nexia Home Intelligence. With the system, door locks, sensors, thermostats and many other home items can now be connected and controlled by home computers and Internet-connected smart phones, explained Schlage’s Anne Matheis. She also emphasized the affordability of the system, which starts at around $300 and is designed to be simple enough for DIY installation. Pella Corp. was also part of the exhibit, as its SmartSync system for controlling shades and blinds in its windows and doors, can also be linked to the Nexia system.

Although windows and doors were not the focus of the exhibits, two new technologies featured by Eastman Chemical at this year’s event offer potential in the market. Perennial Wood, which was being shown for decking, is made through a process that changes the cellular structure of the wood to create a long-lasting product that resists rot, decay and won’t warp or crack like untreated wood, noted the supplier’s Jim Flickinger. The company is in discussion with a number of wood window and door companies, he reported, adding that the wood’s capabilities could enable a manufacturer to offer products without exterior cladding.

The other Eastman technology featured in Orlando was its Cerfis exterior finish now being offered by Woodgrain Millwork on interior moldings. The technology provides a durable finish that doesn’t need painting, while also allowing lower cost substrate materials to be used, explained Luis A. Pag├ín, business manager for the Eastman unit.

Several industry suppliers made their IBS debuts this year. Meshtec was featuring its line of security products. Australia’ Brio, which recently opened a U.S. operation, was introducing its line of folding door hardware and screen systems for large openings.

Also showing for the first time was Muhler Co., which was showcasing two product lines. First, it was showing its Energy Impact Glass, made with an impact-resistant film applied to the glass on the inside of the IG unit. With only two lites of glass, the glass provides a lightweight alternative to traditional impact glass, as well as the energy efficiency people want, explained the company’s Henry Hay. Another alternative to impact glass shown by the company is its StormStud design, which combines pre-engineered holes in a frame that allow attachment of an impact-resistant fabric to the window or door when needed.

Better Mood
Although there may have been fewer window exhibitors, and fewer exhibitors in general, this year’s event did offer a more upbeat mood. NAHB has not released attendance figures as of press time, but officials were projecting more than 50,000, an increase from about 48,000 last year.  That’s a far cry from the 100,000 people at IBS in previous years, but most exhibitors agreed that the aisles and booths busier than last year’s show, and that attitudes about the market were improving as well.

Next year, IBS returns to Las Vegas with a revamped three-day schedule. More information about that event, scheduled for February 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is available at