By Don Logay
As the unofficial “What’s New Guru” of the home improvement industry, I attend numerous trade shows throughout the year and scour lots of magazines and trade publications looking for new and exciting products, intriguing concepts and “gotta have” gadgets that make life just a little bit better.
My checklist for “Hot Home Products” includes simplicity, ingenuity, affordability, and great end results. Here are a few of my most recent finds and all-time favorites:
1. Giani Granite Countertop Paint
Got a kitchen countertop that’s seen better days? Laminate chipped and discolored? Solid surface counter stained and scratched? Giani is the world’s first granite paint kit for countertop makeovers. Get the premium “look” of granite at a fraction of the cost -- with lots of extra benefits too. Water-based paint kits come in five realistic-looking color combinations and include everything needed to go “granite” in three easy steps in 24-hours or less. One $39.95 kit covers 35 square feet (16 running feet of 24-inch wide counter). Available at paint and hardware stores nationwide. Visit www.GianiGranite.com or call 1-800-650-5699.
2. One2Flush Dual Flush Conversion Kit
Saving water is as “easy as 1, 2...” with the brand new award-winning One2Flush toilet conversion kit. In about 20-minutes, you can quickly and easily turn a standard water-guzzling tank-type toilet into an eco-friendly, high-efficiency, water-saving dual flush model. University tests prove One2Flush -- with its “half flush for liquids and full flush for solids” -- reduces water use by more than 38 percent and can save an average family over 10 percent on monthly water bills. Fits all standard two-piece toilets, 1.6-gallon flush and up. Starts paying for itself immediately. Available nationwide at most hardware stores (Ace, True Value, Do-It-Best). For more information visit www.one2flush.com.
3. Easy Crown Molding by EZ-A-PEEL
Budget-minded? Not up for hammering and sawing? Renting? Add elegance to almost any room with “peel-and-stick” Easy Crown Molding. Kits offer quick and easy installation and an inexpensive alternative to fancy millwork. Vacuum-formed thermoplastic design overlaps and adjusts to length without measuring. Can also be trimmed with scissors. Installs in about one hour and can be left white or painted to match décor. Offered in three popular crown molding profiles for various sized rooms with 16 inside and four outside corners included. Kits start at under $50. To order call 1-888-EZAPEEL (1-800-392-7335) or visit www.easycrownmolding.com.
4. Dead Bolt Secure Entry Lock Protection
Burglars with “bump keys” can open virtually any standard lock (deadbolt or otherwise) with ease. Until now, the only defense was expensive high-end, pick-proof locks. The new award-winning Dead Bolt Secure offers a low-cost, ingenious solution that makes standard deadbolt locks (with a lever or twist-type inside handle) virtually bump-key and pick-proof. It even blocks entry for anyone with a legitimate key. How? A simple spring-loaded device, that installs in minutes, flips down to prevent a dead bolt’s handle form turning -- no matter how it is being unlocked. Offered in brass and satin nickel. The best part? It only costs $9.95. Order online at www.arclink.net.
5. Aspect Peel and Stick Metal Wall Tile
Create a designer kitchen “look” quickly, easily and affordably with new Aspect peel-and-stick 3-inch by 6-inch metal tiles. Offered in three popular brushed finishes (stainless, copper, and bronze) for dramatic and dazzling accents, whether a gleaming over-the-counter backsplash or an entire luxurious floor-to-ceiling wall. Aspect tiles adhere to any sub-surface (drywall, plaster, paneling, and old tiles) and are offered with horizontal or vertical graining. Gives kitchens and baths a fresh, new look. Box of eight tiles covers 1-square-foot and costs about $20. The only limitation is your imagination. Available at some Lowe’s stores or order online at www.aspectideas.com.
6. Telezapper / Blocks Telemarketer Calls
Get rid of annoying telemarketer calls once and for all. This nifty little device plugs into your phone cord and only intercepts computer-generated calls -- indicating this number is disconnected -- which automatically takes you off their list. Over time, calls dwindle until you are practically telemarketer-free. Other incoming calls are not affected. When first introduced, millions were sold. Ever since, this product has been “flying under the radar.” However, the original and an updated model can both still be found at www.amazon.com and via online search engines at prices ranging from $40 to $10. It’s worth the effort -- I wouldn’t part with mine. Additional info at www.telezapper.com.
7. Liquid Stainless Steel Brush-on Paint Kit
Want to give your dingy, old kitchen appliances a gleaming stainless steel finish? Award-winning Liquid Stainless Steel is the world’s first brush-on/roll-on “real stainless steel” finish designed to give older stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers a new lease on life. Complete kits are easy to use and update an average size refrigerator for $49 or a range and dishwasher combo for only $19.95. Works great on cabinets, table tops and in many other places too. If it would look good in stainless -- now you can do it. Available at paint and hardware stores nationwide. Order online at www.liquidstainlesssteel.com or call 1-800-650-5699.
8. Schlage Keyless Entry Locks and Wireless LiNK Option
Tired of fumbling with keys? Reluctant to offer extras to visiting guests and service providers? Schlage electronic keypad entry locks and deadbolts -- using four-digit access codes -- are now both practical and affordable, offered in the $120 to $150 range. Company also offers Schlage LiNK, the first and only DIY wireless system allowing 24/7 remote control for keypad locks and other home management functions via the Internet. Lock or unlock doors from anywhere, add/remove access codes and control lights. Options include adjustable thermostat ($149) and cameras ($149 wired/$179 wireless) to see who is coming and going. Schlage LiNK Starter Kit ($299) offers choice of keypad lock (deadbolt or lever-handle) and everything needed to set-up a Z-Wave wireless system. Monthly subscription $12.99. Available at Lowe’s, Radio Shack, and www.amazon.com, or visit www.consumer.schlage.com for retailers.
9. Evoba Modular Wood Ceiling System
Turn any room into a stunning showplace with the architectural impact of a rich “coffered” wood ceiling. Prefabricated Evoba system (that’s “Above” spelled backwards), offers the warmth and beauty of real wood without the cost of custom millwork. Pre-engineered main beams and cross-tee grid components surround 2-foot square, beautifully finished, recessed panels and offer easy installation. Available as a suspension or surface mount system, in a variety of wood species and finishes, at $12 to $30 per square foot. It’s affordable-chic that rivals the elegance of any Euro-mansion or lavish boardroom. Available at www.acpideas.com.
10. INVISILED Low Profile Accent Lighting Tapes
Create dramatic indirect lighting effects almost anywhere with strips of miniature LED lights. Spaced 1-inch apart, and placed on thin flexible strips only 1/8-inch thick and 7/16-inch wide, INVISILED by WAC Lighting offers five basic colors (white, amber, red, blue, and green). One- and 5-foot peel-and-stick or screw-mounted sections can be cut at every inch. New Palette system offers continuous red-green-blue changing colors with control for speed and brilliance. Aura system creates white “daylight” to amber “sunset” with variable control. Cost ranges $75 to $90 per foot. Plug-in drivers cost $60 to $120. Maximum spans from 25 feet to 40 feet. For information and retailers visit www.waclighting.com or call 1-800-526-2588.
There you have it. Great peel-and-stick innovations, dynamic new paint concepts, valuable entry door/security solutions, affordable designer treatments for ceilings, an easy way to save water with new green technology and a classic phone zapper that gives telemarketers the boot. Hope you found something you like. Stay tuned. More soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Don Logay is an award-winning home improvement writer. Former editor-in-chief of top three professional remodeling magazines, he also created the widely quoted annual study for remodeling investment and return. Today Logay also writes home owner tips heard daily on hundreds of radio stations nationwide.