The builders are back! The recent International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., put on each year by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), revealed many things — innovative products, many great ideas and lots of people.

My first visits to the show were in the early 1980s, and we spent a full week there building the booths, manning them on shifts, and then teardown and packaging. I always empathize with the crews that do this work — it makes for a very long week!

Whenever I could, I would wander the show looking for great ideas. For me, it was always a great testament to capitalism and ideas. You could start with just that idea, rent the space and sell the idea to the world. Forty years later, the show feels the same.

Some of the innovative products I noted at the show:

  1. A pivot door with electric shoot bolts was shown in vinyl, in a single panel and fixed sidelight configuration of 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall. The pivot was 10 inches from the corner and supported the door panel against a low sill. The shoot bolts locked the door and were battery-operated with a remote.
  2. Maglev sliding shower doors were shown at a small startup-sized booth. A father/son came up with the idea, and it works great. No rollers or contact at all between the door and the track. It moves with just a touch. I suspect it won’t be long before we see this idea in a patio door.
  3. Electronic locks for entry doors were everywhere. Lots of connectivity and system integration was also on display in these booths.
  4. Bigger doors – if you thought the focal-point doors were big last year, they were bigger this year. 10 and 12 feet high mutipanel sliding and accordion doors were plentiful.
  5. Lots of black everything was the theme of almost every window and door booth. Laminates, paints and extruded colors were present, and if it wasn’t black, it was dark bronze.
  6. Steel windows with innovative hardware and thermal breaks were shown in two different booths.
  7. Moving window walls in a “steampunk” style were a hit on the show floor. The distressed and rusted frames were mounted in a large 10-by-12-foot panel that swung open with a large manual hand wheel. The Italian builders noted a large demand for information.
  8. Hidden door sills were shown at multiple booths. These sills require a subsill structure and water management, but give a great smooth look on the surface.
  9. Big corner doors — again, the doors are getting bigger, and some showed pocket edges and jambless edges.
  10. New flashing ideas — now that the thick exterior insulation board is in use, multiple flashing suppliers showed flashing methods to cover the wood buck. The Tyvek booth demo of this was very popular with at least 200 people at the session I attended.
  11. Automation — multiple booths showed door automation. The large door displays lend themselves to this important option. One of the booths had cutaways in the wall to show how the automation worked. The builders were huddled there to see the details.

The show is back to levels seen before the recession and many new products were shown for the first time. Some stats from the NAHB site about this year’s show;

  • The show welcomed more than 85,000 attendees, as part of Design & Construction Week. Of that total, about 60,000 were IBS registrants.
  • Thousands of building professionals attended more than 150+ education sessions in eight tracks.
  • The IBS exhibits spanned 583,000 net square feet, with more than 1,500 manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Attendees took advantage of the many opportunities to network with colleagues and have a lot of fun, including the IBS Centrals, the NAHB Meeting of the Members and these SOLD OUT events: The Official IBS House Party, the Young Pro Party and the IBS Closing Spike Concert with Chicago.
  • The many amazing experiences at the show included more hands-on, interactive learning from the Builder Clinics and Tech Bytes sessions, along with the High Performance Building Zone, and a look at what’s disrupting the future of the housing industry at IBS Live.

Take a look at the site for details and plan to be there next year!

Keep innovating!


  1. Well done Ray!

  2. Thanks Chuck, the show was as good as ever!

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