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This article first appeared in the PB August 2011 issue of Pro Builder.

Photo: Ply Gem Windows’ Builder Series Pocket Door can span up to 12 feet and is just $400 for the base model.

If you missed the results of our annual 101 Best New Products report, I encourage you to check out our landing page for the 2011 winners,

Each year, the Professional Builder staff teams with the editors of Professional Remodeler to evaluate hundreds of building-industry products introduced during the previous 12 months to come up with our 101 Best. Besides learning about what’s new and cool in residential construction products (like smog-eating roof tile!), the judging process allows us editors to spot trends in design, construction, product technology, and consumer preferences. Here are a few observations from the 2011 competition:

  • Glass pocket doors are more affordable. Bringing the indoors out continues to be one of the biggest themes in residential design. Outdoor living is such a huge draw that builders like Atlanta-based Edward Andrews Homes are offering free upgrades like outdoor kitchens, brick-paver patios, and screened-in porches as incentive for buying one of their new homes. An emerging outdoor living product category is affordable glass pocket/folding doors, which allow homeowners to open up large spans of wall space to the outside. For instance, Ply Gem Windows’ Builder Series Pocket Door can span up to 12 feet and, at just $400 for the base model, is an affordable option for production and custom builders alike.
  • Manufacturers are getting creative with ventilation. Products that improve indoor air quality and help reduce energy consumption are in high demand, and window and door manufacturers are responding with products that improve ventilation, like vented sidelites for entry doors (from Therma-Tru), tilt-and-turn windows (Jeld-Wen), and operable glass-block windows (Hy-Lite), to name a few.
  • Spa-like living is for all homeowners. Who says that only the well-off can afford the spa treatment at home? Certainly not suppliers like Alsons, Delta, Grohe, Moen, and Sterling, all of which introduced products that offer a higher level of comfort and performance without busting the budget.
  • Vintage is in. Amish-crafted wood garage doors; windows made from reclaimed Douglas fir; traditional farm-style sinks; brushed-texture hardwood flooring — these are just a few examples of products designed to meet the growing demand for a vintage aesthetic.
  • Security gets smarter, simpler. From entry door locks that alert homeowners via text or email when the locking device is activated to robotic security lights that illuminate and track any movement within a detection zone, manufacturers are making it possible for builders and homeowners to incorporate a higher level of security without the cost of “all-in” systems.
  • Gypsum grows up. Some of the most compelling product innovations are coming out of the gypsum wallboard category — including low-dust, mold-resistant joint compound; lightweight drywall; and even pollution-capturing gypsum board.

Read about all 101 winners at

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