Tag Archives: indoor air quality


BUILDER’s annual product guide rounds up some of the most interesting materials, technologies, and innovations in the residential realm.

Wood flooring in light shades is especially popular this year, such as in this dining room in Miller & Smith's Brambleton Garden District community in Virginia.
Courtesy Miller & SmithWood flooring in light shades is especially popular this year, such as in this dining room in Miller & Smith’s Brambleton Garden District community in Virginia.

The best residential products exemplify both the latest trends and greatest innovations that a newly constructed home can offer. To help sort through what’s shaping product selection this year, BUILDER asked five residential design experts for their take on the biggest trends facing home builders. The products showcased below reflect their trend forecasts in each of six product categories. The pros interviewed are:
–Lee Crowder, model branding manager for Darling Homes and Taylor Morrison
–Jay Endelman, president of Maryland-based builder Guild Craft Inc.
–Manny Gonzalez, principal of Southern California–based KTGY Architecture + Planning
Washington, D.C.–based developer and builder Sean Ruppert of OPaL
–Patti Wynkoop, vice president of product development and purchasing for Mid-Atlantic area home builder Miller & Smith.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Exterior category.
Protective Finishes. Numerous exterior products are now designed to endure the extreme. Impact- and fire-resistant siding, from fiber cement to metal to hardwoods; shingles that withstand gusts up to 150 mph; and the time-tested use of shutters offer top-to-bottom protection.

Patty Wynkoop
Patty Wynkoop

Creative Privacy. Dense infill developments mean smaller yards with innovative privacy features for outdoor living. Inventive and customizable screening options include artistic fencing in unusual materials, vertical gardens, all-weather curtains, movable metal or wood panels, shoji screens, trellises, and pergolas. “We use unique design elements … to temper the close proximity of dense site plans,” says Wynkoop.

Modern Appeal. Contemporary designs and materials—larger expanses of glass, smooth surfaces, clean lines, flat or low-sloped rooflines, and commercial finishes—are in demand with buyers across the country. High-contrast color palettes such as white or pale gray with black window and door trim add a stylish touch to any architectural style. “Now we can get more creative with window and balcony placements, exterior skins, and colors,” says Gonzalez.

Al Fresco Spaces. Savvy builders provide buyers with lots of choices for outdoor amenities, including fireplaces or pits, outdoor kitchens and wet bars, entertainment equipment, and natural materials like wood and stone. “Roof decks and balconies are giving way to patios and terraces directly off kitchens and dining and living rooms,” says Ruppert.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Interior category.
Healthy Homes. Along with sustainability and energy efficiency, consumers are more educated than ever about products affecting healthy indoor air quality. They demand low- or no-VOC paints and sealants, formaldehyde-free cabinets and adhesives, antimicrobial surfaces, and whole-house water
and air purification systems.

Sean Ruppert
Sean Ruppert

Wood Flooring. Hardwood flooring finishes skew lighter with natural, unstained varietals taking center stage. Products mimicking wood are also increasing in popularity, such as porcelain tile and laminate. “People finally warmed up to engineered and vinyl wood floors. Either they warmed up or products got much better—probably both,” says Ruppert.

Open Inside to Out. Open floor plans went from a trend to common practice, but now they extend visually in all directions—even outside—and dominate throughout all house sizes, styles, and types. Interior courtyards, breezeways, and open-air entryways appeal to buyers of all ages, from young families to empty nesters. “Perhaps the biggest trend in interior space is exterior space,” says Gonzalez. “More and more, interior areas open up to exterior areas to create a lively indoor–outdoor experience.”

Artisan Accents. Consumers enjoy expressing their creativity and supporting craftspeople by selecting unique, handmade products. Even big box home furnishing stores like Target and Ikea offer limited-edition artisan collections. “Today’s consumer bypasses anything mass produced in exchange for artisan products, fixtures, and features,” says Wynkoop.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Kitchen and Bath category.
High Contrast. White kitchens and baths remain popular, but with high contrasting finishes. “Black is a really important color for 2019 and you’ll be seeing it pop up everywhere—from countertops to hardware and faucets—and paired with stark white cabinets,” says Crowder.

Lee Crowder
Lee Crowder

Plumbing Choices. A proliferation of finishes for plumbing fixtures and fittings allows homeowners to show off their personal style. Gold-plated, matte black, copper, brass, nickel, bronze, pewter, and chrome are all available across various price points in styles ranging from elaborate to sleek. “We’re seeing a revival of gold and bronze fixtures as designers mix metals in their palettes, similar to today’s fashion jewelry trends,” says Wynkoop.

Attractive & Accessible. Stylish universal design products are popping up in housing for all ages. Many of these products do double duty, such as towel racks or shower shelves acting as grab bars and spacious, no-threshold showers with built-in bench seats that also serve as shelves.

Island Living. Larger, decked-out kitchen islands continue to trend in most housing types and sizes. Treating the island like a piece of furniture is a new look, however, with islands having legs or even wheels for flexibility and more personalized style.

Floating Fixtures. Wall-hung vanities, cabinets, and toilets help the bathroom look larger and generate a sleek, serene atmosphere. Floating cabinetry and wall-hung toilets make spaces look and feel larger as the floor runs under the pieces and gives a more expansive aesthetic.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Structural category.
Cross-Laminated Timber. Cross-laminated timber is becoming popular as structural material even for taller buildings and large expanses. The product offers the strength of concrete, but it’s more sustainable, lighter, and renewable, makers say. The product also offers fire and seismic resistance and produces minimal construction waste.

Jay Endelman
August HutchinsJay Endelman

Prefab Products. Prefabricated systems allow for faster construction, stronger building envelopes, and reduction of waste. Panelized walls, flooring and roof systems, insulated concrete blocks, modular framing components, and structural insulated panels also provide builders with consistent quality of materials. “Some of the newest structural systems have a huge impact on what can be built cost effectively,” says Gonzalez.

Roof Fasteners. Even with today’s lighter roofing materials, roof fasteners make sense on every house given the increased occurrence of extreme storms. They also improve roof stability and load allowances. “Building a house now requires more wind bracing and stronger framing,” says Ruppert.

Steel Framing. As building codes get stricter, steel is making inroads with single-family construction. The material provides strength; resistance to wind, fire, and floods; quick construction time with less waste; and design creativity. Steel also serves as an environmentally friendly option as it can be recycled after use. “Lateral wind loads have increased across the board, so steel framing in residential makes more sense and allows for more flexibility,” says Endelman.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Systems category.
Long-Distance Control. Consumers want the ability to monitor and manipulate lights, locks, thermostats, audio/visual equipment, water heaters, and appliances when at home or away. Most electronic components are available in smart forms that homeowners can control with their phones and voice-activated devices. “Consumers are hungry to not only integrate their homes but also centralize the process rather than manage several separate apps for everything,” says Wynkoop.

Manny Gonzalez
Manny Gonzalez

Systems That Save. Resource- and cost-saving products like tankless or solar-powered water heaters and ductless HVAC systems reduce homeowners’ utility bills and make them feel good about preserving resources. “Some residents turn tracking their utilities into something of a ‘utility video game’ where they try to win the month by having the lowest energy usage ‘score,’” says Gonzalez.

Responsive HVAC. Manufacturers are responding to consumers’ desire for indoor comfort with heating and cooling products outfitted with high-tech features like UV air filtration, evaporative cooling, humidifying and dehumidifying, and maintenance alerts.

Home Control. Lights, blinds, and thermostats aren’t the only self-monitoring systems builders can offer as upgrades. Smart water valve controllers detect leaks and alert homeowners, or turn off the water automatically. Manufacturers also make sensors to detect problems throughout the home, from a door that’s been left open to an oven turned on, to provide added safety and peace of mind.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Windows & Doors category.
Peak Performance. For both windows and doors, savvy consumers demand higher thermal values along with improved impact and wind resistance. Using increased thermal values keeps indoor temperatures more stable, saving on heating and cooling costs, while windows and doors with higher
wind resistance can stand up to severe storms.

Door Design. Homeowners want the high-end look of wood and glass on doors for maximum curb appeal, added natural light, and as a personalized look for interior doors. “Wood-style front doors and matching arbors are a new trend even in contemporary homes,” notes Ruppert.

Window Walls. Window walls are becoming more common and less expensive. Many manufacturers offer bifold, accordion, or oversized sliding glass doors to heighten indoor–outdoor connections, frame views, and make spaces feel larger even with the door closed.

Think Big. For a “wow factor” to entice potential home buyers, an oversized window is the way to go. They are available in numerous sizes and options featuring fixed glass combined with a variety of operable panels. “We’re maximizing picture windows at sizes as large as 6×6 or 8×5 for an additional 40 square feet of glass,” says Wynkoop.

Black Trim. Black trim on windows and doors–inside and out—is trending across styles and price points. Darker shades of trim require less maintenance, make the glass look bigger, and provide a luxurious look for both contemporary and traditional designs.


Shelley D. Hutchins, LEED AP, writes about residential construction and design, sustainable building and living, and travel and health-care issues.

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9 days ago
Vincent Valles

Poor indoor air quality? Transform the walls of your home into a permanent air purification system. Simply add the ionic paint additive by Air-ReNu with interior house paint and apply the blended mixture to the walls. One application will remain effective for 8-12 years eliminating offensive smoking, cat urine odors and airborne toxins.

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6 Innovative Paints With Ridiculously Cool Superpowers

When it comes to choosing paint, you might think you only have to decide whether to slather your bedroom walls in Ocean Blue or Lakeside Cobalt. But it turns out, choosing a color isn’t the only factor to consider. Yup, there’s a lot more going on in that bucket of satiny liquid than most of us ever knew.

Get ready for a brave new world of high-tech home decor: Guided by market research and customer feedback, paint manufacturers are harnessing the power of new technology to create innovative products that look good and perform under pressure.

We’ve sussed out the coolest of these smart paints—from bacteria-stomping formulas to heat-reducing compounds—to help you upgrade your home while solving some of your most common household problems. Mind = blown.

1. A paint that promises to kill germs

If you can get over the sticker shock of $87.99 a gallon, this microbicidal paint from Sherwin-Williams may just help you stay well this winter.

Sherwin-Williams Paint Shield claims to be the first paint to kill 99.9% of bacteria—including staph, MRSA, and E. coli—within two hours of exposure to a painted surface. That makes it an ideal choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

The company maintains that the paint continues to kill 90% of bacteria for up to four years, as long as the surface stays intact.

“We launched Paint Shield in 2015 because we realized the importance of developing a coating that would actively help to reduce some of the most dangerous bacteria in health care settings on painted surfaces,” says Steve Revnew, the company’s senior vice president of product development.

But it wasn’t easy to come by: The secret is in the product’s active ingredient, quaternary ammonium compound—aka “quat”—which manufacturers initially struggled to add without changing the paint composition. Eventually, they nailed it, Revnew says—a victory for health-conscious homeowners everywhere.

2. A paint that promises to kill mold

Where do we sign up? Rust-Oleum’s water-based Zinsser Mold Killing Primer is a fungicidal protective coating which can be used to paint over all existing mold, mildew, moss, fungi, and odor-causing bacteria. What’s more, it contains an EPA-registered antimicrobial to prevent the growth of new fungi, says brand manager Melanie Delcore.

Similarly, the company’s Zinsser Odor Killing Primer promises to keep your nose happy—and you can use it on subfloors, cabinets, and walls.

“No one wants to smell the last tenants’ pet odors, nicotine smoke, or smoke from previous fire damage,” Delcore says. “We developed a clear coating that seals and kills those nasty odors for good.”

3. A paint that promises better air quality

Sherwin-Williams’ zero-VOC, washable Harmony Interior Acrylic Latex Paint claims to promote better indoor air quality and cut back on common indoor odors. When it dries, company reps say, the paint actually reduces airborne concentrations of formaldehyde and other aldehydes—volatile organic compounds which come from things such as insulation, carpet, cabinets, and fabrics.

How does it work? The technology works on a molecular level, says Rick Watson, director of product information for Sherwin-Williams.

“When that airborne molecule actually comes in contact with the surface painted with Harmony, the odor-eliminating technology actually will break that compound down and neutralize it so rooms stay fresher longer,” he says.

4. A paint that promises to seal cracks

The Behr Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco and Brick Paint is an exterior paint that’s actually elastic and designed to expand and contract to resist cracking. In fact, the company claims, it can stretch up to 600% to bridge hairline cracks. That makes it ideal for surfaces such as stucco, masonry, concrete, and brick.

Fun fact: This paint can also withstand wind-driven rain at speeds up to 98 mph. Plus, it’s resistant to mildew and dirt. The 100% acrylic latex formula provides a breathable film to release moisture which builds up in walls.

5. A stain that promises to keep you cool

Sherwin-Williams’ SuperDeck line of infrared reflective coatings aims to offer protection from cracking, peeling, mildew, and premature weathering—especially in warm climates.

That’s great and all, but our minds are particularly blown by the SuperDeck IR Reflective Exterior Waterborne Solid Color Stain. This bad boy supposedly has infrared reflective technology that reflects solar rays back in the atmosphere. That means that when your deck heats up to 170 degrees in the sun (yes, you read that right), you won’t burn your toes as you run inside for a margarita refill.

6. A paint that goes on pink, so you don’t miss any spots

Painting the ceiling is a tedious task. At that angle, it’s hard not to miss a spot or color a smidge outside the lines. Enter: Glidden’s EZ Track Ceiling Paint, which goes on pink but dries white to help you get those ceiling margins juuuuust right.

It’s also a paint and primer in one, ideal for DIY jobs. Plus, the company claims, this paint resists drips and minimizes spatter—keeping the color on your ceiling, and off you.

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