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The 25 Best Home Building Products of 2012

By Christine Cooney, The House Designers Staff Writer

This was a great year for attending home building shows like the International Builders Show (IBS), the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), PCBC and Greenbuild because innovation, convenience and affordable high quality products were plentiful. At the top of the list was the selection of smart home technology products that allow homeowners to link devices like home security, appliances, lights, thermostats, entertainment centers and garage doors. The intelligence of today's kitchen appliances is very appealing since it makes meal planning, cooking and cleaning easier than ever before. Equally impressive is all the new bathroom technology that features everything from radiant flooring to smart fans with motion sensing technology — all designed to help you save money while pampering yourself with luxury amenities.

The emphasis on green is still strong as consumers look for products that are extremely high tech, energy-efficient and sustainable. Manufacturers in all product categories delivered the very best in smart, stylish design including exceptional veneer, fiberglass and polyurethane products that are affordable and beautiful and really do mimic the look of the materials they’re intended to replace.

We encourage consumers and builders to build eco-friendly, smart homes that utilize these great products. Here are the top 25 home building products from 2012:
1 - Formica® 180fx® Collection
 
1 - Formica® 180fx® Collection

Formica's® 180fx® Collection launched five lighter and more exotic granite and bold quartz patterns this year. They are available with their trademark Etchings™ finish, a softly polished finish etched with highlights from tiny particles reminiscent of those found in real granite and stone or Radiance,® a high-gloss finish that refracts and reflects light. This is a fabulous product for homeowners on a budget looking for a luxurious countertop. Shown is our personal favorite — the exotic Crema Mascarello, which draws its inspiration from Brazilian granite. You can view all 5 new patterns by clicking here.

Model: 180fx Collection | 3422 Crema Mascarello
2 - KraftMaid® Kitchen Cabinetry

This dream kitchen from KraftMaid® features customized panels that elegantly blend the appliances into a wall of cabinetry that's accented by a large center island workstation done in a contrasting glazed paint finish. It's part of KraftMaid's® Classically Traditional maple cabinet collection, which recently introduced two new paint colors — a muted green Sage and cream-toned neutral Mushroom. When it comes to creating a warm kitchen decor this collection is one of our favorites. Added touches include large cove moulding, prism glass doors and decorative hoods.

Never hear a slamming door again with their Whisper Touch™ soft-close feature which is now standard on all cabinets.

Check out the new KraftMyStyle free app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It allows you to capture images, create photo collages and easily share your ideas. Their motto is "If you can dream it, you can design it!"

Model: View complete product details for this kitchen design >
 
2 - KraftMaid® Kitchen Cabinetry
3 - Sub-Zero® 36 inches French Door
 
3 - Sub-Zero® 36" French Door

The newly redesigned Sub-Zero® 36" Stainless Steel Built-In French Door Refrigerator is our favorite for smaller kitchens. It has two 18" doors and a pull-out freezer drawer which open together for full access to the refrigerator's interior, even in tight spaces. The 23.3 cubic-foot interior has adjustable glass shelves, door shelves and other neat compartments to keep you organized and have extra space when you need it — like during the holidays. A great feature is the new air purification system that keeps the air free from bacteria, mold and viruses.

Model: Sub-Zero® BI-36UFD French Door | MSRP: $10,060
4 - Broan® EVOLUTION™ Range Hood

The new BROAN® EVOLUTION™ under-cabinet range hood offers double the illumination with four halogen lights so you can easily see what you're cooking. Your culinary creation will take center stage under these bright lights. It has one of the quietest fans we've ever heard and its large filtration area is powerful enough to carry away even the toughest smells. The new QP4 joins the ever-popular ventilation series featuring the QP1, QP2 and QP3. Another great feature is the automatic light sensor, which is great for sneaking into the kitchen for a midnight snack without tripping.

Model: Broan® EVOLUTION™ QP4
 
4 - Broan® EVOLUTION™ Range Hood
5 - Integrity Windows® Glider Windows
 
5 - Integrity Windows® Glider Windows

Integrity Windows® Ultrex® Fiberglass Sliders are the perfect alternative to casement windows where you want a swinging sash but space is limited. We think they look great over a kitchen sink where space is often tight and you want to allow for natural light and fresh air. They are constructed of Ultrex® fiberglass to create highly durable, stable and virtually indestructible windows. Additional glass options include LoE2 tempered glass with extra durability, shatter resistance and a special high-efficiency glazing.

Model: Integrity Windows® Ultrex® Fiberglass Slider
6 - Therma-Tru® Fiber-Classic® Mahogany

The ENERGY STAR® qualified Fiber-Classic® Mahogany Collection™ 3-Panel Style Door is the newest addition to this popular entry door collection. It features rich, premium hardwood graining, 17 different decorative glass options, four privacy options and clear Low-E glass. A great feature of this new door is that you can combine it with a Smooth-Star® panel which is perfect for painting. For added protection these doors are available in fire and impact-rated versions.

Model: View the entire Fiber-Classic Mahogany Collection™
 
6 - Therma-Tru® Fiber-Classic® Mahogany
7 - Fypon® Column & Column Wrap Kits
 
7 - Fypon® Column & Column Wrap Kits

If you'd like to add columns to your new home design without breaking your budget, you'll want to check out Fypon's® assortment of decorative structural columns and fast-installation column wraps. Their structural columns have steel-reinforced interiors and high-density urethane exteriors that can sustain up to 12,000 pounds of weight. You can choose from plain panel, fluted, serpentine and flat styles to complement your home's architectural style. We were really impressed with the demonstration at IBS that showed how easy (it took less than 15 minutes) it was to cover unattractive columns with Fypon's® two-piece Semi-Assembled Decorative Column Wrap Kits. You can also use these kits on interior columns.

Model: View all PVC Column Wraps
8 - Cultured Stone® Country Ledgestone

Cultured Stone® Country Ledgestone by Boral® now has 13 colors in its popular stone veneer collection. What we love about this product is that it not only offers beautiful textures and colors, but they are easy to work with and very affordable. Because their surface looks so authentic, you can blend many different textures together to achieve a unique style that blends with your roof and siding.

Model: Cultured Stone® Aspen Country Ledgestone
 
8 - Cultured Stone® Country Ledgestone
9 - DaVinci Roofscapes® Fancy Shake
 
9 - DaVinci Roofscapes® Fancy Shake

If you're looking for the natural, rustic beauty of real cedar shingles without the maintenance, check out DaVinci Roofscapes® Fancy Shake polymer roofing tiles because these new shingles look just like the real thing. They're available in a full spectrum of authentic cedar EcoBlend™ colors to help reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 15%. They recently earned the ENERGY STAR® rating for exceeding the requirements to reflect sunlight and heat away from the home. We really like the fact that you can work with one of their project specialists to create custom colors and blends.

Model: View the collection of Fancy Shake roofing tiles
10 - Integrity® Double-Hung Windows

Integrity® Wood-Ultrex® windows combine an authentic wood pine interior with a virtually indestructible fiberglass exterior making them the perfect choice for new construction. One of our favorite features about the double-hung windows is that the top and bottom sashes tilt and remove easily for hassle-free cleaning. They now are available in custom sizes.

Model: Integrity® Double Hung Wood Ultrex®
 
10 - Integrity® Double-Hung Windows
11 - Lumber Liquidators® Virginia Mills Works
 
11 - Lumber Liquidators® Virginia Mills Works

Your floor is a key interior design element so you'll want to spend some time selecting the right materials, colors, patterns, textures and even shapes for each room. Lumber Liquidators® offers an extensive collection of hardwood floors including Virginia Mill Works Handscraped Solid Floors, which have a naturally worn appearance. Golden Teak is striking and elegant with its creamy golden sapwood and unique dark-streaked heartwood. Over time this flooring will deepen in color usually settling into a warm golden tan that maintains its cozy appearance.

Model: Virginia Mill Works 3/4" x 4-3/4" Golden Teak Acacia Handscraped
12 - Fypon® Decorative Moulding

Fypon® offers beautiful, durable synthetic products like crown moulding, interior trim, louvers, window and door framing that’ll enhance the look of any room without breaking the bank. Preformed decorative urethane millwork won’t warp or split, requires no sanding or sealing and is installed simply with a special adhesive. It offers homeowners a great opportunity to save money by being able to install it themselves.

Model: View thousands of decorative products
 
12 - Fypon® Decorative Moulding
13 - Benjamin Moore® Artisan Collection
 
13 - Benjamin Moore® Artisan Collection

This room, with colors selected from Benjamin Moore's® Artisan Collection, is designed with a rich earth tone on the ceiling to complement the blue-gray walls and create a feeling of warmth and comfort. There are five colors in this new palette that mix cool and warm colors to add interest and sophistication to any room.

Model: Artisan living room: Sea Haze (2137-50) Satchel (AF-240) Monterey white (HC-27)
14 - LG® Turbowash

If spending less time doing your laundry sounds good to you, you'll absolutely love LG's new TurboWash™ washer, which saves you 20 minutes on large loads without sacrificing performance. It's like putting your laundry on fast-forward. This is one of the largest capacity models on the market with a 5.1 cu. ft. tub. Other great features include deep clean Steam™ technology and a Coldwash™ option that cleans as efficiently as warm water.

Model: 5.1 CU.FT. Mega Capacity Turbowash™ Washer | $1,399.99
 
14 - LG® Turbowash
15 - Armstrong® Luxury Vinyl
 
15 - Armstrong® Luxury Vinyl

The Alterna Reserve Collection by Armstrong® is luxury vinyl flooring that looks like natural, high-end stone with its dramatic tile variations. Each style offers 32 individual tile pattern variations so that all appear unique, which means you can create a customized floor that looks like stone, but is much softer to the touch. A personal favorite is the Cuarzo multi-glaze with limestone in a medium gloss.

Model: Alterna Reserve Vinyl Tile Flooring | Cuarzo Multi-Glaze
16 - Smart Ventilation for Steamy Bathrooms

Known for their best-in-class ventilation products, Broan-NuTone® expanded its line of Broan® and NuTone® ULTRA™ series fans and fan/lights with an additional sixteen models. The new line of fans provides humidity and motion sensing technology while still featuring easy installation for contractors. These fans aren't only best-in-class but also feature quiet operation and energy-efficiency that allows customers to enjoy a humidity-free, comfortable environment more quickly when taking a bath or shower.

The secret behind these fans is the ULTRA Sense™ H Humidity Sensing Technology. All fans in this line can detect a rapid rise in humidity and are programmed to respond by turning single-speed fans on, and multi-speed fans from low to high. These fans also come with an easily accessible humidity sensitivity adjustment that will ensure a healthy, comfortable environment based on the climate.

Model: Broan and NuTone ULTRA™ Ventilation Fans
 
16 - Smart Ventilation for Steamy Bathrooms
17 - A Classic Faucet with Green Sensibility
 
17 - A Classic Faucet with Green Sensibility

If tradition and simplicity are what you desire in a bathroom faucet, then look no further than Moen's® Caldwell™ Bath Collection. The collection features soft curves and rich details that make it the perfect choice for a homeowner who wants to create a cohesive design. The Caldwell™ Bath Collection includes matching showerheads too, but we love the faucet for its elegance and its thoughtful craftsmanship.

The faucet features two handles for ease of use, and a high-arc spout to provide additional clearance. The Caldwell™ faucet is also compliant with WaterSense® criteria, making it a green product that will help you save water without sacrificing performance. Not only is this faucet beautiful to look at, but for contractors, a 4" centerset design allows for easy installation. This faucet is just as stylish as Moen's® motto: "Buy it for looks. Buy it for life."®

Model: Moen® Caldwell Collection™ Chrome Two-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet | MSRP $126.80
18 - An Easy Toilet Makeover

A bidet is a good addition to a kid's bathroom, the elderly, or someone with limited mobility. Before you change your plumbing to suit a bidet in addition to your toilet, consider one of these convenient bidet toilet seats from Brondell®. Our pick is the Swash® 900. This bidet toilet seat features a convenient wireless remote, an intelligent body sensor, and self-cleaning nozzles.

Not only is this toilet seat easy to operate, it is also easy to clean. The seat features a Quick Release for easy removal and cleaning. The seat also features an automatic power save to keep your electric bill under control and an eco-friendly instant ceramic heating system for unlimited warm water. Add to that the benefit of the Swash® being made in America, and you have the perfect addition to your bathroom.

Model: Brondell® Swash® 900 Bidet Seat | MSRP $695
 
18 - An Easy Toilet Makeover
19 - Standing in the Rain
 
19 - Standing in the Rain

There is nothing like standing in a warm rain. Except, maybe experiencing rain without the threat of lightening. Rain showers are all the rage right now and the Delta® Dryden Raincan shower is perfect for your bathroom. The square showerhead is reminiscent of the art deco period of the 1920's and '30s. This showerhead isn't just a pretty face; it also provides a drenching and invigorating shower experience.

The TempAssure® technology utilizes thermostat operation for precise temperature control with the help of valves that automatically adjust the water mix. In addition to providing a great shower experience, it also includes several smart features from Delta®, including their MultiChoice® Universal Valve, Volume Control, and TouchClean.

Model: Delta® Dryden TempAssure® 17T Series Shower Trim Kit | MSRP $424.95
20 - Just Like the Spa

It's always nice to wrap yourself in a warm blanket or dry off your hands with a warm towel. Now you can get that feeling at home with a heated towel bar. Wesaunard® is a company that manufactures top quality heating products with over thirty-five years of experience. Among their offerings is a line of creative towel racks. There are several lines but the line we like the best is the Builder line for it's gentle, sleek silhouettes.

The Builder series is a line of towel racks for people that prefer the elegance of simplicity or practical utility. Wesaunard® makes quality products, but these models are affordable because the intricacies are minimized. The result is a product of exceptional quality with a moderate price.

Model: Wesaunard® 5Z-Chrome | MSRP $1568.00
 
20 - Just Like the Spa
21 - Custom Solar Panels
 
21 - Custom Solar Panels

Our designers are big fans of SolarWorld® Sunkits™ because they are complete high-tech solar electric systems custom designed for each home. Their durability and performance are guaranteed since all of their components are made from corrosion-resistant aluminum and stainless steel and feature their trademark Sunmodule™ solar panels. And, they make it easy for homeowners to afford by providing a variety of financing options. To learn more about going solar you can request a free solar consultation and SolarWorld® Sunkits Product Brochure.

Model: Download the Sunkits Product Brochure
22 - Total Home Comfort

To maximize energy savings and dramatically reduce air infiltration, Owens Corning® has developed the EnergyComplete® System, a total home insulation and air sealing solution that is an affordable way to achieve total home comfort. It combines their revolutionary Air Infiltration Barrier and Flexible Seal Technology with their trademark EcoTouch® PINK® Fiberglas™ Insulation. We love how it can reduce homeowners' energy bills by up to 33% even when you forget to do things like shut off the lights or lower the heat when you leave the house.

Model: Learn about the EnergyComplete® System >
 
22 - Total Home Comfort
23 - Solar in a Box
 
23 - Solar in a Box

The SolPak® Series by Rheem® is the company's first all-inclusive active solar water heating system. Nicknamed 'solar in a box' it comes complete with a heat exchanger tank, collector panels, a controller, multi-speed pump, thermal expansion tank and other essential items. And of course this unit is ENERGY STAR® approved so you're sure to receive some tax incentives.

Model: SolPak® 80-gallon units RS80-40BP | MSRP: $3250
24 - Protect Your Home from Power Outages

With year after year of extreme and unpredictable weather, we think a great investment is a Generac® Home Backup System. It protects you and your home from power outages 24/7, which is a huge relief especially for homes that rely on wells for water and don't have a fireplace to keep warm when the heat goes out. A little pricier than a portable generator, but certainly worth the peace of mind is the Guardian Series. They offer four series for various budgets and a range of models within each series based on engine type and power generation capacity. It can be set up to cover your whole-house or just essential areas like your heating, water and kitchen appliances.

Model: Generac® Guardia Series 8KW >
 
24 - Protect Your Home from Power Outages
25 - Solar Heating & Cooling Solutions
 
25 - Solar Heating & Cooling Solutions

The Lennox® SunSource® Home Energy System uses free, abundant solar energy to generate electricity for central heating and cooling and beyond. The SunSource® system is expandable, affordable and remarkably simple to install and operate. We were really impressed with the system's ability to power up lights, appliances and other units that use electricity. Since most of their air conditioners and heat pumps come 'solar ready' you can update to a solar package at a later date. Another great option is that you can start with a couple of solar modules and add more in the future, for a total of up to 15 solar modules per outdoor unit for added energy savings.

Model: View the Lennox® SunSource® Home Energy System
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