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Trend Spotting at the International Builders’ Show

Every year the editors here at The Family Handyman visit the International Builders' Show, which recently teamed up with The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. We always find cool new products, modern building trends and a few fashionable new styles. The only downside was coming home to our own houses, which seem kinda dull by comparison. Here's some of what we saw at this year's Builders Show:

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Talk to Your OvenFamily Handyman

Talk to Your Oven

If it makes your house "smarter," it's popular at the Builders' Show. GE has a line of appliances that work in conjunction with Amazon's voice-controlled Echo device. Now you can go anywhere in your house with an Echo nearby and ask Alexa (Echo's persona) to preheat the oven. You can command your dryer to keep tumbling until you're ready to pull the load, and instruct your washer to keep track of detergent and order more when you get low.

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A Collage of Colors and MaterialsFamily Handyman

A Collage of Colors and Materials

More new kitchens are combining base and upper cabinets that are different colors and sometimes even different styles. Combining countertop materials like solid surface, stainless, stone and wood is also popular. The Builders' Show always features innovative new cabinet door and drawer hardware, and these co-plane cabinet doors from Wellborn Cabinet were a highlight this year. The doors slide sideways instead of swinging out, perfect for small or busy kitchens. Visit wellborn.com to find a dealer near you.

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Liquid FlashingFamily Handyman

Liquid Flashing

Modern building products like liquid flashing can help builders achieve an exceptionally weather-tight home. Applying a liquid flashing is one of the best ways to seal rough door and window openings against the elements. The liquid flashing shown, MaxFlash, by BASF, is applied to the opening before a window or door is installed. MaxFlash goes on the wall with a large sausage caulk gun and is then spread out with a taping knife. Once dry, it provides an impenetrable barrier. It can be used with liquid weather-resistant barriers or traditional house wrap, and can be applied over masonry and gypsum products as well as wood. For more info, call BASF at 1-800-221-9255.

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Complete Door KitsFamily Handyman

Complete Door Kits

You just can't keep barn doors down on the farm—first they were sought after as a specialty item, and now they've gone mainstream. That's because they make a lot of sense, especially in smaller homes. Doors that swing hog a lot of floor space, and pocket doors aren't an option if ducts, pipes and wires are in the way. Barn doors are a remodeler's dream because they can usually be retrofitted without too much hassle. They're perfect for closets and passageways but not the best for bedrooms because they don't block sound as well as a traditional door. A Masonite door like this (hardware included) costs about $450 at homedepot.com.

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Sci-Fi StovesFamily Handyman

Sci-Fi Stoves

Magnetic field–powered induction cooktops have been around for decades, but only recently has there been a real rise in demand. The slow acceptance is surprising because there are advantages to inductive cooktops, two of the biggest being better temperature control and speed. Some inductive stovetops can boil a pot of water in 90 seconds! The surface of the cooktop stays relatively cool, which has obvious safety benefits, and spills won't cement themselves to the surface. One of the biggest hurdles to switching to induction is that not all pans will work. Prices range from about $1,000 up to $3,000. The one shown here is a GE Monogram.

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Tile That Looks Like WoodFamily Handyman

Tile That Looks Like Wood

If you love wood but aren't crazy about the upkeep, check out these porcelain tiles from Daltile. They look like wood but hold up better in wet areas like bathrooms and entryways. And large dogs won't scratch them to ribbons. Tiles that look just like marble, brick and fabric are also available. The folks at the Daltile booth were also excited about the growing popularity of their large-tile collection, which features tiles as big as 2 x 4 ft.! The Yorkwood Manor tiles shown here cost about $5 per sq. ft. Go to daltile.com to find a dealer near you.

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See-Through Refrigerator DoorsFamily Handyman

See-Through Refrigerator Doors

Matte black stainless steel is definitely the appliance finish du jour. People love it because it's better at hiding smudges and fingerprints, and it just looks cool. Many manufacturers are also offering refrigerators with see-through doors. The idea is that you'll waste less electricity because you don't have to open the door in order to stare slack-jawed into the fridge for minutes at a time. And because all your food is on display for the world to see, you'll be motivated to keep the contents neat and organized...right? Prices for an InstaView model like this one from LG start at about $3,700.

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Double-Duty SheathingFamily Handyman

Double-Duty Sheathing

Plywood and OSB (oriented strand board) are being melded with all sorts of materials. Roof sheathing is available with a thin aluminum coating to keep attics cooler (Georgia Pacific Thermostat). Fire-resistant coatings are available, and there's even a sheathing designed for sheds that is primed on the outside and has a prefinished surface on the inside (LP SmartFinish). This R-Sheathing from Huber Engineered Woods is laminated with 1 in. to 2-1/2 in. of foam, which prevents heat from being conducted through solid building components like drywall, studs and siding. Installing R-Sheathing is easy because the foam (up to R-9) is attached to the sheathing, making it a one-step process. And R-Sheathing is part of Huber's ZIP System, which means the exterior side has a weather-resistant barrier, which takes the place of house wrap. After it's on the wall, only the seams need to be sealed. R-Sheathing is available at lumberyards nationwide.

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Contemporary ExteriorsFamily Handyman

Contemporary Exteriors

James Hardie, maker of fiber cement products, was showcasing its Reveal Panel System for the residential market. In the past, panels like these were usually reserved for commercial buildings. If panels were installed on homes, the boards and battens would typically hide all the seams. But the seams on these panels were not only exposed but also emphasized with trim frames. And just like interiors, the exteriors on contemporary homes are including a mix of materials like brick, lap siding, panels, shakes, and board and battens. These James Hardie Reveal panels come in a wood profile and smooth. Reveal costs about $15 to $20 per sq. ft. installed. For more info, go to jameshardiecommercial.com.

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Heavy Hardware the Easy WayFamily Handyman

Heavy Hardware the Easy Way

Simpson Strong-Tie was showing off a cool new accessory to complement its lineup of construction screws. Outdoor Accents hex-head washers work in conjunction with construction screws to secure large decorative straps that hold together outdoor structures like pergolas and gazebos. The screw/washer combo has the benefits of a construction screw but the attractive industrial look of bolts. One 3-in. x 3-in. angle bracket costs about $9; an eight-pack of hex-head washers, $12; and a 12-pack of 3-1/2-in. structural screws, $12. All are available at The Home Depot or homedepot.com.