Door and Window Musings
by Tara Taffera
January 23rd, 2015

My Builders’ Show Favorites and Observations

Well, this year my observations of the International Builders’ Show started a little early—on the plane, in fact. Usually I settle in and keep to myself, but when a contractor next to me started talking about how he’ll spending all three days at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and will be walking up and down every aisle, I just couldn’t stay silent.

So here is my customary list of some bests, some favorites and just some general observations over the past several days:

Best plane conversation. When I heard Walter Branson of Branson Construction and Remodeling in Lake Jackson, Texas, talk about how IBS had everything to offer for a home, I couldn’t help but ask what he was most excited to see. His answer: the latest in home automation. I then commented that people must really be asking about this if he is here to check out all the latest technology. He hesitated and said, “Well, maybe not everyone is asking, but I like to be ahead of it.” Smart guy.

Branson also gave me a great story idea. He said many of his window installations are done on the coast, and he installs products by a variety of manufacturers. He said for every installation in windborne areas, the instructions vary, but Branson would like a unified way to install these products. If you have thoughts on this, email me at or post a comment here.

Continued demand: Indoor/outdoor living. Sliding wall systems, sliding doors—you name it. Anything that opens the indoors to the outdoors simply continues to grow in demand. When PlyGem introduced their latest product to us, Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing, told us that 92 percent of architects said outdoor living products are key.

Home automation. The February issue of DWM has an article on home automation and looks mainly at entry door systems that can be operated via smart phone, etc. I never thought of this technology in terms of sliding doors, but at the Jeld-Wen booth, we saw an automated multi-slide that can be integrated with a home automation system. I think I need to find my plane mate (see above) and make sure he checks that out.

Favorite new non-word: Installability. I don’t know if it’s really a word, but it was mentioned by a PlyGem representative during the company’s press conference Wednesday morning. We all know that when a good window is installed poorly, the consumer remembers the window manufacturer. Kudos to PlyGem for working to “make their products easier to install.”

Biggest trend. I could say sliding walls, but that’s a trend that’s here to stay. The biggest trend was the desire for taller doors—and even wider (four feet, perhaps), according to Therma-Tru. I talked about this with a president of a door and window company and we wondered: how high and wide will we go?

Best run-in: It’s great when you finally meet someone you have corresponded with for years—for me that was Joe Klink from ProVia. We have probably corresponded for ten years at least, but for some reason we never met in person. I thought he was at the show to check out the competition, but he actually had a more pressing matter. ProVia is building a home for 50 orphans in Haiti, and was at the show to gain some help from suppliers. Kudos to ProVia.

Once again, it was a great show, and I enjoyed seeing many of you there. Feel free to post a comment here to share your favorites from Vegas.

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  1. Thanks, Tara, for keeping us all informed during the International Builders’ Show. The videos were great, as always, and your blog offers unique perspective from the show.

    Walter Branson’s comment was particularly interesting. AAMA has published installation guidelines for many years and ramped up its involvement over 15 years ago with the creation of the InstallationMasters installer training and certification program, now with over 12,000 certified installers to date. Our current library of eight installation documents continues to grow, along with our members’ contributions to ASTM E2112 (Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors and Skylights), and to the installation segments of the newer FenestrationMasters certification program for professionals.

    In addition, our January 13 webinar (AAMA Installation Standard Practices-What Your Customers Need to Know) described methods that have been developed specifically for both wood frame and masonry substrates, and for climatic conditions ranging from the dry desert Southwest to the wind-driven, rain-prone coasts of the Southeast. The webinar was recorded and is available to members on the AAMA website.

    But in answer to Mr. Branson’s point, even within that area, techniques will vary depending not only on wall construction, but whether the window itself includes a mounting flange, a frontal flange (either a “Flush Fin” or possibly with the “Florida Fin” variant) or a box frame. The manufacturer’s installation instructions, along with local building code requirements, always “rule.” Given the new ENERGY STAR v6 requirement that manufacturers provide installation instructions, some increased consistency across product lines may occur.

    Hope your weary trade show feet recover quickly!

  2. Thanks so much Angela for the great info and feedback. I will pass that on to Mr. Branson now. Thanks again!

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