Buzz: Product News Roundup, Uniqueness Underfoot Edition

Creative floor tile layouts, luxurious ceilings, Lego-style concrete blocks, and more product news from the past week.

Faro tiles from Beaumont.

Faro tiles from Beaumont.

12 creative floor tile designs.

• Tensile strength stronger than steel? Slow burning? Could bamboo be the next big building material?

• From domes to barrel vaults to wood beams, here are 5 uber-luxe ways to dress up a ceiling.

• A British firm wants to simplify the way we install concrete with blocks that emulate Lego. The real question is: Will they still hurt like mad when you step on them in the middle of the night?

• How it’s made: A day in the life of a paint factory.

• Ductless mini-split air conditioners are an efficient alternative to central AC. But they can be a bit of an eyesore. Here are 10 tips to better integrate these units into a design.

• Finally, hand tools and grout are in the pop culture spotlight, thanks to Weird Al Yankovic and his rap parody “Handy.”

How to use cloud computing to stay better connected on the jobsite.


Buzz: Product News Roundup, Red-White-and-Blue Edition

American-made products, wooden light bulbs, meteorological pendants, and other product news from the past week.

Wolf Range• July 4th got you feeling patriotic? Several publications were feeling that way too last week, publishing lists of Made in the USA products for your viewing pleasure:

• You shouldn’t take wooden nickels, but perhaps a wooden light bulb? A Japanese designer has created one out of pine veneer–for the bargain price of $2,700 (that’s a lot of nickels).

• Giving new meaning to the concept of bringing the outdoors in, the Cloud pendant light provides the audio-visual sensation of a thunderstorm.

• Americans are cutting the cord in droves. New research shows that 41% of households now use only wireless phones.

• In the wake of the innovative Nest, major manufacturers are following suit with smart thermostats of their own. A Wall Street Journal reporter puts them to the test.

• Everything you every wanted to know about log homes in one handy infographic.

• Good news: Builders are paying closer attention to the building envelope. Research from Professional Builder outlines the performance-enhancing products and methods they’re investing in most.

30 splashy kitchen backsplashes.

• Bored of glass and metal, a Harvard student invented way to weave facades out of clay. It looks like macramé, but it’s still pretty nifty.


Buzz: Product News Roundup, Hardware Everywhere Edition

New products from the National Hardware Show, burning appliance questions, jaw-dropping showers, and more product news from the past week.

Triton• 9 cool tools from the Hardware Show, including a snazzy folding utility knife and several burly demo bars.

• The Money Pit hosts also offered up their favorite finds from the show, including a smarter sump pump and a DIY-friendly laser distance meter.

• 7 products to please (and warm and relax) the mom of the house.

• Germaphobes rejoice! Kohler unveils a touch-free toilet that flushes with the wave of a hand.

• Norwegian project sets out to become the world’s tallest timber building at 14 stories.

• 11 natural boundaries that offer an alternative to fences.

• 10 walk-in showers that will make you forget about the bathtub.

• Does expensive really mean better? How high should the range hood be? A professional cook answers homeowners’ burning appliance questions.

• From single bowls to high-tech faucets, here’s a look at the latest trends in kitchen water stations.

• Tech startup Chui is upping the home-security ante with a doorbell unit with built-in facial recognition.


Buzz: Product News Roundup, Penny for Your Thoughts Edition

Penny tiles, composting-straw walls, wine storage for the rest of us, long-lasting cement, and other product news from around the web this week.

• Lucky indeed. These 15 projects showcase the beauty and diversity of penny-round tiles.

• You’ve heard of straw bale houses, but what about straw houses that also eliminate the need for a furnace? Students in Japan have developed a prototype house with straw walls that compost to heat and cool the space.

• Never repaint again? Harvard is working on “structural color” technology, which never fades.

• Let’s face it: Most of us can’t afford the wine cellar of our dreams. Here’s some advice and ideas for vino storage for the other 99%.

• Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson is setting his sights on mainstream shipping container houses that are practical and beautiful.

• Breaking up may get a little harder to do: A graduate student has invented a cement composite with a service life of 120 years or more.

• New window regulations are coming. Here’s what to expect.

• The energy gurus are weighing in: Will open-cell spray foam really rot the roof?

Image: Traditional Bathroom by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Kelly Scanlon Interior Design


Buzz: Product News Roundup, Bridging the Gap Edition

Bay Bridge-turned-bungalow, manly walk-in closets, dramatic light fixtures, and other product news from around the Web this week.

Bay_Bridge_House_Design_front1-805x525• The old San Francisco Bay Bridge lives on: I-beams, concrete, girders, trusses, and roadways from the bridge, which was recently replaced, will be used to build a three-story house.

• Batting zero? A New Zealand study found that 100% of batt insulation installations have failures.

• Men need a place for their clothes too. Here are 30 ideas for walk-in closets with masculine appeal.

• The U.S. government is throwing its muscle behind tall wood buildings.

• 15 ways to create drama with light fixtures.

• That giant tarp? You’re folding it wrong.

• 10 tips to help your clients choose the right windows.

• Scientists are developing “microstructural lightweight construction materials” that have a stability relative to their weight that exceeds materials such as steel.

Buzz: Product News Roundup, No More Burnt Popcorn Edition

Kernel-caressing microwaves, awesome lighting tricks, paper houses, and other product news from around the web this week.

Whirlpool microwave• Office workers rejoice! A new microwave from Whirlpool has sound sensors that will adjust popcorn-cooking time for optimal results.

• When a simple sconce or spotlight just won’t do, try one of these 18 cool lighting tricks.

• 4 steps to squeak-free floors.*

Top 10 truck trends for 2014.

• From spiral stairs to fiberglass doors to insulating housewrap, here’s a look at 38 more products from the Builders’ Show.

7 tools made right here in the U.S. of A.

• Walk-in closets and low-E windows—expected. Laminate countertops? Not so much. See “what’s most likely to show up in single-family homes in 2014,” according to an NAHB survey.

• We’re feeling a distinct urge to doodle. Check out these 10 houses made with paper.

• Have a gorgeous project featuring Marvin Windows? The manufacturer has opened its sixth annual Architects Challenge design contest.

*Disclosure: The author of this article is a client of this blog’s parent company.

Buzz: Product News Roundup, Pulled Out a Plum Edition

Colors of the year, toxic-material buzzwords, top green products, and more product news from around the industry this week.

Exclusive Plum• We’ve entered that fun time when paint manufacturers begin releasing next year’s signature colors—those hues that reflect our current culture, state of mind, and style choices. Sherwin Williams’ pick for its color of the year is “Exclusive Plum,” described as a dusky, silky violet.

• Also releasing its color report is Pittsburgh Paints, whose “Book of Now” compilation of 2014 color forecast stories highlights keywords such as “versatile,” “optimistic,” “dynamic,” and “elegant.”

• This is also the time of year when magazines compile their favorite finds. One of the most respected is BuildingGreen’s Top 10 Green Products, which this year includes CLT and mineral wool.

• Broadening the scope, here are This Old House’s Top 100 favorite new-home products from the year.

• If your pickup’s past its prime, here’s a look at three truck models rolling off the lines in 2014.

• Our reclaimed-material-loving hearts are pounding over these bike chain chandeliers.

• Trying to keep toxic materials out of your projects? Memorize these 4 red-flag product descriptors.

• If there’s no room in the bathroom but plenty of room in the budget, try a wall-hung toilet on for size.

• 6 fun-and-functional products from the Remodeling Show.

• USGBC and UL are teaming up to increase building material transparency.

8 unique range hoods.