10 Products You Should Be Using in 2012

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    Courtesy Owens Corning

    Air Sealing System
    Air sealing is one of the most important things you can do for a house, but it’s not always done properly. Instead of caulk, use a systemized air sealing product to ensure the job is done right. Seal your house right, and it will improve the performance of your insulation. www.ocenergycomplete.com.

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    Courtesy Ann Sacks

    Textured Ceramic Tile
    We’re fans of glass tile and we like typical ceramic, but textured ceramic products—which is all the rage in Europe—have our attention. This Abyssinian from Ann Sacks, for example, adds drama to a space without using color. It costs $10.71 per square foot, so use sparingly. www.annsacks.com.

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    Courtesy Johns Mansville

    Blow-in Insulation
    Depending on your area of the country and the quality of installation, batt insulation is probably adequate. But that’s assuming it’s installed properly. Blown-in insulation, on the other hand, gives you a better fit, better coverage, and a better seal—and is hard to install incorrectly. It also can be installed more effectively around junction boxes and wires. www.specjm.com.

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    Courtesy Sterling Plumbing

    Tub-Sized Shower Receptacle
    Shower bases measuring 60 inches long make swapping out an old tub for a shower as easy as pie. It’s also ideal for new construction where the buyer doesn’t want a tub, but you want to give the next owners the flexibility to add one. This one measures 30 inches wide and 4 inches deep and is made of durable Vikrell material. www.sterlingplumbing.com.

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    Courtesy Ply Gem

    High R-Value Windows
    If you’re in a cold climate, you can improve the insulation value of your home by using windows with a high R-value and a low U-factor. Such products in a heating-dominated region have better insulating properties and reduce heat loss inside the home. www.doe.gov.

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    Courtesy Spore Doorbells

    Cool Doorbell
    Sometimes it’s the little things that count. This little doorbell is just such an item. Made by Spore, the De Light is a cool, yet unexpected gesture to guests. It’s made with a soft-to-touch polymer resin button that lights up at night and an anodized aluminum body. Priced at $29, it’s not cheap, but you can’t put a price on the impact something like this will have on a house. www.sporedoorbells.com.

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    Courtesy Murus Structural Insulated Panels

    Structural Insulated Panels 
    With the superior strength and tightness available through structural insulated panels, it boggles the mind that more builders don’t use them. According to the Energy Department, SIP-built houses provide superior and more-uniform insulation compared to traditional construction methods; they also take less time to build. ’Nuff said! www.sips.com.

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    Courtesy GE

    Energy Monitor
    An energy-monitoring device lets homeowners know how much power they are using (or producing) in real time. The idea is that if people know exactly how much energy they are consuming, they are more likely to change their habits and reduce consumption. www.ge.com.

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    Courtesy Lowe’s

    Wood Interior Doors
    Despite being the standard once upon a time, wood interior doors are rare in new homes. Perhaps it’s time to bring them back. Wood can be stained to match any millwork and has a warm, familiar look that people love. This one measures 30 inches wide and 80 inches tall, and costs $83 at Lowes. www.lowes.com.

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    Courtesy CertainTeed

    Insulated Vinyl Siding
    Whether you like it or not, vinyl is the number one siding in home building. You can make the product better by using vinyl that’s fused with foam (if your budget allows). Not only do you get an air and moisture infiltration barrier, but you also get a thermal break that stops heat transmission. Moreover, boards can be installed straighter, so walls look better.  www.vinylsiding.org.

Every year, we offer our suggestions for 10 products builders should be using (or thinking about using) in their houses.

Our list this year has no particular theme, except to help you and your buyers consider some new ideas. It includes products that are merely about aesthetics and design, some that are practical, and some that will help improve the energy efficiency of your homes.

Just as a refresher, in the past we’ve recommended electric radiant-heated floors, glass tiles, dual-flush toilets, tankless water heaters, water recirculators, and heat-pump water heaters. Low-flow faucets got a nomination one year, as did folding patio doors, humidity-sensing bath fans, crack-isolation floor underlayment, linear drains, ICF foundations, metal roofs, solid core doors, dimmers, and EPA-certified wood stoves.

Obviously, a single builder cannot use all of these recommendations on one house: Some are pricier than standard offerings, and some are not applicable to every climate. But our goal is to show some different ways of doing things and some better products with which to accomplish them.

Here, then, are our 10 products you should consider in 2012.