No one was laughing in the final months of 2018, as the residential construction industry showed signs of volatility. It didn’t help to ease those tensions, either, as much of the industry’s housing data went dark amid a government shutdown. But the unease of those days seemed to be gone Tuesday morning—or at least temporarily forgotten—when the International Builders’ Show (IBS) opened in Vegas, starting with well-known laugh maker Dana Carvey. That mood spilled over to the show floor, where the event was packed throughout the day.

The lean among door and window products is toward the high-end market this year, including increasingly large, sliding glass doors—many of which turned up with automation.

“Regular-sized doors look tiny this year,” commented Al Mograss, with Neuma Doors, pointing to a standard, 6-foot-8-inch-tall door.

Kolbe, Panda, Marvin, Neuma and Weather Shield all looked to draw attention with such oversized products. Marvin’s Ultimate Corner Multi-Slide door stacks and/or pockets up to 10 panels, completely opening corners. Panda’s largest door stands nearly 15-feet tall. Ultimately, those mammoth proportions are designed to change the way homeowners live, many suggested.

“Panda is a lifestyle product. We want folks to see and experience our doors, and to enjoy a certain lifestyle with them,” explained Jay Savage, marketing director for Panda Doors.

And this year that lifestyle is all about blending indoor and outdoor environments, in a trend that officials for Weather Shield dub the “shared space movement.” But the onslaught of large sliders has also increased competition among manufacturers, many suggested. As a result, manufacturers are leaning on additional features, as well as making refinements to loop in the attention of builders. Kolbe and Panda’s multi-slide doors included motorized automation. Kolbe’s is activated by waving your hand in front of a sensor.

“We’re seeing where, in some markets, builders are having more and more say in the specifying of products,” said Cindy Bremer, vice president of marketing for Kolbe. And in this era of more expansive glass, Kris Hanson, senior manager, group product manufacturing for Marvin said his company has reimagined some of its products in order to make them more feasible for builders to transport and handle—including breaking down mullions.

“It’s really the builder who is helping the homeowner to decide which doors and windows to specify,” Hanson said.

Another area of focus includes sills—many of which are designed to be flush with adjacent flooring and decking these days, for seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor surfaces.

“No one wants to be carrying a tray of drinks, only to trip across a high sill,” said Chris Schields, vice president of product marketing for Weather Shield. The company is also blending its concept for larger doors and windows with more contemporary styling. “We continue to see this trend make its way in from the coast,” Schield said, pointing to one of the company’s windows from its Contemporary Collection. “The market is moving this way, and I don’t know how many people have picked up on this.” At the same time, “Homeowners love the idea of contemporary, but aren’t necessarily willing to fully commit,” he suggested. Perhaps for this reason, manufacturers are blending the sort of contemporary features associated with industrial-styled buildings with subtle variants, like matte and textured finishes.

“These finishes reflect light differently, for an entirely different look,” said Michelle Bryant, Neuma marketing specialist.

Another trend that’s surfaced among hardware includes finishes of matte gold.

“As we look at things like fixtures, and other design items, in magazines and elsewhere, gold is in everything,” Bremer says. As for the abundance of glass at this year’s show, “Glass manufacturers must be loving it,” she concludes.

The International Builders’ Show continues through Thursday. Check dwmmag.com for additional story and video reports.

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