This past week was the annual products event hosted in Providence, RI. This show is geared towards contractors and offers a combination of classes and a huge showroom area with hundreds of brands represented. It serves as a great opportunity for contractors to see what is out there in the industry. Every major brand is represented and usually is offering some sweet promotions and/or some live demonstrations of what their products can do.
There were more types of decking, siding materials, drills, drill bits, screws, mouldings, and flashing tapes than I had seen before. Every year companies are coming out with new products or innovations on old products. The event serves a great opportunity for builders, the guys in the field, to get their hands on the items and test them. That hands on demonstration is worth a thousand words over any glossy promotional materials or sales pitch.
The coolest display I saw looked like a science experiment. It was in the Marvin Windows booth and was demonstrating heat loss of the various glass types using a heat bulb and 4 sashes with varying glass. Mr. Wizard would have been proud!
The basic setup was a box. On each side of the box was a different sash. Inside the box was a 4x4 post with a heat bulb on 4 sides. around the outside of the box half was up the sash was a skirt, a flat 2x6. On the skirt sat 4 light mills, centered on the sash directly in front of the heat bulb with only glass recording. The idea of a light mill is that as it is exposed to heat the spindles inside the bulb spin. They spin faster if they sense more heat and slower or not at all if they sense low to no heat. AWESOME!
This was a very effective way of demonstrating what it actually means to have 366 glass or argon gas, etc. The visual of the light mill told the story for all to see.
Leaving the show the with enough freebies and giveaways to stock any respectable showroom I started asking myself a question. It is great that there are 20 different 'plastic' wood types but how do you rate them? Then I carried that thought onto the tools, the windows, the insulations how do you know it is everything the salesman says it is?
Do you rely on your own eyes and years of experience? A products track reccord in the field? Maybe you put your trust into brands? Blind faith? Maybe it is the product with the best warranty?
The fact of the matter is, you use all of those things. To be an informed consumer you use all the information at your disposal in creating a opinion. Forums like JLC live serve a critical purpose for builders to educate themselves on what is avilable in the marketplace today.
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