Kitchen & Bath Outlook Healthy

Throughout the current housing downturn, which began in late 2005, some sectors within the residential construction market — including the kitchen and bath niche — have fared better than others, according to the results of a new survey.

The latest in a quarterly series of “Home Design Trends Surveys” conducted by the Washington, D.C., based American Institute of Architects (AIA) revealed that homes targeted to first-time buyers, as well as those targeted to younger households trading up to a larger home, are apparently the weakest sectors of the housing market.

Only 5 percent of survey respondents reported that the first-time buyer market was improving in the fourth quarter of 2007, while 69 percent felt it was weakening, resulting in a composite score of -64. The trade-up housing sector fared only slightly better, with 6 percent of respondents reporting it improving and 51 percent feeling it was weakening, for a composite score of -45.

Other major residential construction sectors — second/vacation homes, townhouses and condos, and custom and luxury homes — are all reported to be seeing “serious declines,” according to the AIA.

In contrast, the remodeling sectors — both additions and alterations to existing homes and kitchen and bath remodels — are reported as “healthy and relatively strong,” although not as strong as they were a year ago. More than a third of the residential architects surveyed rated those sectors to be improving, with fewer than 15 percent rating them as weakening, the AIA added.

Asphalt Roofing

Post-Katrina Stresses Codes

The Hurricane Katrina Wind Investigation Report, recently released by the Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues (RICOWI) Inc., concludes that adherence to existing codes may enable asphalt roofing systems to better withstand major windstorms, says the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association.

The investigators reported on steep-sloped asphalt shingle roofs, including eight made with three-tab asphalt shingles and three made with laminated asphalt shingles. Many of these roofs experienced only minor damage. According to the report, in those cases where significant damage did occur, it could have been eliminated if the construction methods were consistent with the latest codes.

The complete report, titled Hurricane Katrina Wind Investigation Report, can be downloaded in PDF format from RICOWI’s Web site (


Pella Recognized for Efficiency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy have named Pella Corporation as a 2008 Energy Star Partner of the Year award winner for the Product Manufacturer — Windows category. This is the second consecutive year Pella has received this recognition.

The awards are given to manufacturers and retailers that successfully promote and deliver Energy Star-qualified products, saving consumers money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


NKBA Offers CAD Exam Option

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) will offer candidates taking its design exams the option of using the traditional paper and pencil hand-drafting approach or using a modified CAD program, effective Sept. 20, 2008. The exams include those for certification as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), Certified Kitchen Educator (CKE), Certified Bath Designer (CBD) and/or Certified Bath Educator (CBE).

Initially, three software choices are offered: 20-20 Technologies, Autokitchen/AutoCAD and Fusion (formerly Planit’s Fusion). In the future, other CAD options may be available, the NKBA says.

Fences and Decks

Slow Recovery Expected

A 16 percent decrease in sales made 2007 a tough year for the residential fence, deck & rail (FDR) market, which settled at $10.1 billion. A new report from Specialists in Business Information (SBI), The U.S. Market for Fence, Deck & Rail Products, forecasts that the market will resume its upward trend and reach $11.8 billion by 2012. A 4 percent growth rate is predicted in 2009, with 7 to 9 percent continued growth through 2012.

The industry will likely get a boost from an increased interest in home remodeling, which is projected to grow by 62 percent from 2006 to 2016. Much of the demand for outdoor remodeling work will be driven by affluent households with incomes of $75,000 or more. In addition, there is a higher demand for outdoor living products among “upscale” homeowners.

Solar Power

Michigan Roofer Designs Kit

A Michigan roofing contractor’s residential solar roofing kit won first place for best new product at the recent International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas.

The kit, designed by Gary Allen of Allen Brothers Inc., a roofing contractor in Rochester Hills, Mich., and marketed by sister company LUMA Resources LLC, fits with any type of roofing material and can be used in new construction or reroofing.

It uses thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar cell technology, but can also be adapted to fit other kinds of solar collectors. It is designed to generate 1,860 watts of electric power and consists of 60 solar shingles, an inverter, and the necessary flashing and components needed to put the system together.

Green Building

Wood Flooring’s Impact

Wood flooring is environmentally friendly, a study conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) with the University of Wisconsin concludes. An analysis of engineered wood flooring is underway.

Among the conclusions:

  • Wood flooring has no emissions for methane, nitrogen oxide and other particulates, and minimal emissions for carbon dioxide.
  • Water consumption was substantially less than that used to produce linoleum or carpet.
  • Primary energy use reflects the collective energy inputs required in manufacturing. Again, wood was found to have the least amount of primary energy consumption.
  • Because hardwood floors can last hundreds of years, there are fewer replacement production impacts.
    The full report is available at, under the “What’s New” menu option.

Building Materials

Boral Bricks Opens Plant

Boral Bricks recently opened a 295,000-square-foot brick manufacturing plant in Terre Haute, Ind. The company says the plant, which can produce approximately 120 million bricks per year, is the largest in the United States. In addition to advanced technology, including robotics, the facility is a zero waste plant where nearly all the waste generated in the process is recycled in new batches. The plant uses methane gas from a nearby landfill as a substitute for natural gas and employs a number of energy efficient measures as well.

Green Remodeling

Guidelines from AISD and USG

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched the nation’s first green residential remodeling guidelines during Interiors 08: The ASID Conference on Design, held in New Orleans.

Organized into the 10 most common remodeling projects, the REGREEN Guidelines can be applied to a variety of projects, from remodeling a kitchen to executing a full-scale renovation. Additional information is available at


Carlisle Forms Residential Group

Carlisle Construction Materials (CCM) Carlisle, Pa., announced the formation of Carlisle Residential Products Group. The following lines will fall under the new division: EcoStar roofing products; Water and Ice Protection (WIP) underlayments, EZ Roof Waterproofing system and EZ flash.

Solar Roofing

CertainTeed to Develop Solar Roof

CertainTeed Corporation, a manufacturer of interior and exterior building products, announced it has entered into a partnership with SRS Energy of Philadelphia, Pa., to develop a polymeric-based photovoltaic roof tile that generates energy without compromising the look of the home. While most existing solar roofing systems rely on large conspicuous panels, the technology goal is to seamlessly and unobtrusively embed solar technology into the roof tile.

Custom Electronic

Expo Features Home Systems

The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) will host its third annual Electronic Lifestyles Forum April 30-May 2 at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Tx. CEDIA members specialize in designing and installing electronic systems for the home.