I just got back from what seemed like a trip back in a time machine. The Novi Home Improvement Show was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi Jan. 27-29, and it seemed oddly familiar. Not because of the products being exhibited, but because of the long lines to get into the show and the crowds throughout the weekend.
It reminded me of the good old days. Back when the aisles were loaded with homeowners looking to spend and the economy was booming.
According to Mike Stoskopf, the executive director of the Building Industry Association of Southeast Michigan, the show's sponsor, they had an attendance of more than 10,000 people. That's an 18 percent increase over last year and largest attendance total since January 2007.
A very busy show manager, Rosalie Lamb, told me that 58 exhibitors were dealing with kitchen and bath products.
I was busy, too. While hosting both national and local radio shows during the event, I had the chance to see some of the more unique and interesting products before and after the broadcasts.
Getting in and out of the bathtub can be a real chore for senior citizens or those with a disability, but the new Elevance Rising Wall Bath from Kohler (www.kohler.com) being displayed at the Plumbing Professors booth,www.plumbingprofessors.com, (800) 654-1300, provides an alternative to standard walk-in tubs.
It has an extra wide opening and a chair-height seat to make it easy to enter and exit, and the rising wall requires less than five pounds of force to raise and lower. The tub also has a dual drain system, an integrated waterfall fill that eliminates a spout and fills quicker than traditional bathtubs, and has an optional bubble massage feature that takes the place of typical water jets.
For the homeowner who wants to be environmentally conscious when renovating their kitchen, H.J. Oldenkamp, (586) 756-0600, www.oldenkamp.com, was displaying the PaperStone solid surface countertops, www.paperstoneproducts.com, that are manufactured from a sustainable composite material made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, phenolic resins and natural pigments. The countertops come in nine different colors to match most kitchen decors.
I noticed that there were more companies displaying replacement windows this year. Two that caught my eye were vinyl windows designed to look just like wood: the Uniframe window, www.uniframewindow.com, available from Mulligan Windows, Siding and Roofing, www.mulliganwindow.com, (888) 425-0071; and the Restorations window, www.restorationswindows.com, available from Kearns Brothers, (888) 355-6700,www.kearnsbrothers.com. Both window brands are highly energy efficient and are available in double-hung, sliders, casement, garden, bay or bow windows in a variety of wood-grain finishes.
If you are the do-it-yourself type, you probably use both a step ladder and an extension ladder pretty often. The Little Giant Extreme Ladder System,www.littlegiantextreme.com, combines both types of ladders into one unit. These ladders are made from aluminum alloys and are rated to hold 300 pounds as an extension ladder and as a two-sided, two-person ladder. The Model 22 has an extension height of 19 feet, but folds into a storage height of less than 6 feet.
Standby generator systems are becoming more popular as the technology of these units improves, but even the permanent models can be noisy. Bratcher Electric, (734) 722-0037, www.bratcherelectric.com, was displaying the quietest available on the market today, the Cummins Onan Model RS20A, www.cumminsonan.com. This large-capacity, residential generator is a 20 kilowatt unit that runs on natural gas or propane fuel with a low 62 decibel sound level, making it quieter than your central air conditioner.
If the increased activity is any indication, you better start planning your home improvement projects now for the spring and summer months. Your area contractors are going to be very busy doing the work they lined up from the show.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.
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