Every year, BUILDER magazine writes about tons of products that are fresh, new, different, or simply outrageous. That's a lot of products, which is why we find it so intriguing when we crunch the numbers at the year's end and see which ones piqued your curiosity. In the past, radiant-heated floors, folding patio doors, and tankless water heaters have captured the top spots on the list.
This year, though, a more humble product claimed the number-one ranking in 2008, as based on readers' use of "circle numbers" requesting more information via BUILDER's print pages. Keep reading to find out whether your favorite product made this year's list:
1. Sliding door hardware from L. E. Johnson Products. Readers flocked to this product more than any other item we wrote about this year, probably because this hardware simply mounts to the wall and creates surface-mounted sliding doors, freeing up space in a room.
2. Precut I-joist from Georgia Pacific. The XJ85 joist has strategically placed openings in the web for plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems so you no longer have to rely on your subs to be perfect. Neater work, sure, but it also will result in fewer call-backs and faster installation. It’s a win, win, win situation.
3. Solar water heater from Heat Transfer Products. The Phoenix solar heater combines domestic hot water storage with a 97 percent efficient, gas-fired backup in one unit. A solar exchanger transfers heat from solar panels to the water.
4. Architectural drain from California Faucets. Most drains are boring and unsightly; StyleDrain is neither. The forged brass unit has a square design, so installing tile is easy. It also has no visible screws and comes in 30 finishes.
5. Low-profile smoke alarm from Kidde. You want your smoke detector to work when you need it, but disappear when you don’t. This sleek unit accomplishes both tasks. It’s hard-wired, but a sealed lithium battery back-up will last the life of the product.
6. Soundproof and waterproof wallboard from Georgia-Pacific and Quiet Solutions. QuietRock DensArmor Plus 528 merges GP’s paperless drywall technology and Quiet Solutions’ soundproof technology. A single layer of the panel reduces noise by 75 percent.
7. Combination heater from Rinnai. This tankless system will handle hot water, but a hydronic air handler will deliver space heating as well. It’s available with the usual baubles, such programmable thermostat and other accessories.
8. TV box by Arlington Industries. Most people will take the cool wall-mounted TV panel, though they hate the unsightly black cord. Solution: a recessed panel that can accommodate power plugs or low-voltage devices.
9. Home generator from Eaton Electrical. As violent storms increase, stand-by generators such as this one will only get more popular. The air-cooled 20-kilowatt unit will supply enough automatic backup power to manage two 5-ton air-conditioners.
10. Rotating duplex outlet from 360 Electrical. Anyone who’s ever tried charging two cell phones or a phone and an iPod at the same time knows why this product was popular. It allows a user to connect a large plug and then turn the socket to make space for another large plug.
Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER Magazine.