The crowds filled the aisles at the combined IBSKBIS show

Combined Kitchen & Bath/Builder's Show a winner

Feb. 7, 2014
Kohler introduced a spray option called Sweep Spray as an alternative to a typical round spray pattern from kitchen faucets. Viega introduced a product that will make life much easier for hydronic contractors — a ProPress to PEX Press adapter fitting that’s available in sizes up to 2-in. Delta introduced a new bath collection called Ashlyn in a transitional style that looks high end but it’s really affordable. Moen introduced the Align bathroom collection. Align lavatory faucets are certified to meet WaterSense criteria. Danze showed products that are both exceedingly simple and exceedingly high-tech. Geberit introduced a rear discharge toilet for retrofit applications called the Monolith. InSinkErator showed the Italian-designed 3N1 kitchen faucet that has a side handle that dispenses 210°F hot water from a High Performance Steaming Hot tank.

LAS VEGAS — Last January the International Builder's Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show announced plans to merge in a three-year trial marriage. It was a necessary move. IBS, which formerly drew over 100,000 builders before the recession hit, was a shadow of its former self, and the last couple KBIS shows were moribund. The early February show this year, in contrast, was an enormous success. At times one could barely walk through the jam-packed aisles. This is a relationship that can go the distance.

One usually has to go to the biennial ISH Show in Frankfurt to see a booth as gigantic as the one Kohler built for KBIS. Where to begin?

In the kitchen, Kohler introduced a spray option called Sweep Spray as an alternative to a typical round spray pattern from kitchen faucets. Think of a broom except made out of water for easy cleaning of dishes or the bottom of the sink. Sweep Spray will be available mid-March on Cruette, Bellera, and Simplice faucets and on the Sensate hands-free faucet. The firm also displayed the Whitehaven Hayridge farmhouse style apron front sink. The ridges on the apron front a meant to mimic the furrows in a field. Their Preserve line of stainless steel kitchen sinks has a factory-applied coating that prevents scratches. The display came with a table knife and attendees were encouraged to try, always unsuccessfully, to scratch the sink.

Nightlight toilet seat

If you need a nightlight for a middle-of-the-night call of nature, Kohler introduced a nightlight option on its Cachet and Reveal toilet seats. The soft blue LED light runs on AA batteries and can be set to run for seven hours during the night so it’s not on all the time. In the shower, Kohler introduced the Awaken showerhead that features Eco-Assist. The showerhead normally flows at 1.5-GPM, but push a button on the handle and it goes to 2.0-GPM to rinse off.

Kohler showed a line of semi-customizable vanities that obviously borrowed some features from the company’s Roburn cabinet line, such as electrical outlets inside the vanity. The Tailored Vanity collection offers five vanity design styles with customizable options including drawer/door configurations, hardware, organizational accessories, color, finish, as well as countertops and sinks.

Kohler’s Sterling unit showed a forehead-smackingly simple improvement to shower door tracks called ComforTrack. The bottom track is rubber. Step on it, lean on it, sit on it and it doesn’t hurt.

Viega showed a line of three new thermostats for radiant systems that control valves with 0-10V DC powerheads with short response times that self-calibrate. The thermostats use intuitive, memory-driven programming and icons for easy use. The family of zone valves will attach to any system because the fittings come in Street x PEX Press, ProPress x PEX Press, and ProPress x ProPress. Viega also showed a line of zero-lead ball valves with stainless steel (not chrome plated) balls, and hydronic valves with threaded, ProPress or hose fittings.

But here’s simple, highly useful item from Viega that will make life much easier for hydronic contractors — a ProPress to PEX Press adapter fitting that’s available in sizes up to 2-in. Connect away, boys.

Delta Faucet showed its large H2O Kinetic showerhead display, including a clear plastic cutaway that demonstrated how the oscillating spray pattern is created by the way water moves through the showerhead and without moving parts. Delta also showed a line of hybrid showerheads that can flow at a WaterSense level 1.5-GPM, at a regular flow of 2.0-GPM or paused. The company displayed its Temp2O showerheads that show the temperature of the water by changing color. The LEDs in the showerhead are blue if the temperature is less than 80°F, change to magenta as the temperature rises up to 110°F and to red at 110°F or hotter. The feature runs on AA batteries on the tub/shower trim version but the LEDs on the handheld shower run on water power alone.

Delta introduced a new bath collection called Ashlyn in a transitional style that looks high end but it’s really affordable. The collection comes with either the In2Ition showerhead (the one with the removable hand shower in the center) or with a regular head, and a complete line of faucet styles. The Ashlyn collection will be available by Q3 of this year.

Delta is dressing up ADA grab bars as a line of everyday accessories, such as shower shelves, towel bars and toilet paper holders that have all been tested to 300-lbs.

Inspired by scalding

More than 75 years ago, Al Moen scalded himself at a sink that had separate hot and cold taps. The company celebrated the 75th anniversary of Al Moen inventing the single-handle mixing faucet during KBIS.

If your experience with freestanding tub fillers was all about wobbly freestanding tub fillers, Moen has created a better product. Its tub fillers, in the Arris and Weymouth lines, are securely mounted and wobble-free.

Moen introduced the Align bathroom collection, available in Chrome and LifeShine Brushed Nickel finishes, features cylindrical, geometric shapes. The lavatory faucets include a single-handle, single-hole faucet; a single-handle, single-hole low-profile faucet; as well as one-piece vessel and two-handle widespread platforms. Align lavatory faucets are certified to meet WaterSense criteria. The faucets are flow-optimized and allow water to flow at 1.5-GPM. Align Roman tub faucets are available with or without a hand shower. The Align suite features Moentrol and Posi-Temp tub/shower, shower-only and new matching diverter valve trim. Posi-Temp showerheads include both standard 2.5-GPM and Eco-Performance 1.75-GPM options, while the Moentrol showerhead features a 2.5-GPM rainshower. The Eco-Performance showerheads are certified to meet WaterSense criteria, comply with CalGreen requirements and contribute toward maximizing LEED points.

Moen displayed some attractive stainless steel sinks, including a new apron front that’s available as a big single or a double bowl sink. The company also showed a round bar sink and the 1800 Series stainless steel sink with integral accessories. Most of the Moen stainless steel sinks are American-made in Pennsylvania.

In terms of products that don’t have water flowing through them, Moen showed curved tension shower rods that don’t require drilling and fasteners. It also showed a line of bath safety products, including a teak seat, plus grab bars and shower shelving that’s tested to ADA 300-lb. requirements.

Danze showed products that are both exceedingly simple and exceedingly high-tech. A bathtub pop up that you activate by pushing it up and down with your foot is commonplace. Danze, however, introduced the Touch Down drain, a push down/push up pop-up for lavs. So you have to stick your hand in the sink water to open the drain? People do that all the time in their kitchen sinks. Danze showed Como and Parma pull-down kitchen faucets with magnetic locking; they’re not on the market yet.

Showroom of the future

For the high-tech side, Danze showed a prototype of the “Showroom of the Future.” The faucets on the display wall are mounted on acrylic bases that have readable chips installed. Pull the faucet and base off the wall and insert the base into a reader in the middle of the display and, shazam, all of the faucet specs are displayed on an interactive touchscreen. Pull out another faucet, insert its base into the reader and its spec sheet is displayed. Danze is beta testing the idea with Ferguson. It’s a 21st century idea that looks like a winner.

Danze’s colleagues over at Gerber introduced the Ziva concealed trapway toilet that uses the Avalanche 1.28-GPF flushing technology. The Ziva will be available in June. The company also showed the contemporary Blaze Suite that also uses Avalanche guts in a two-pice elongated comfort height toilet. It comes with a matching pedestal lav. Gerber has also filled out the Logan Square line with a dual-flush toilet with top-mounted flush buttons.

Geberit keeps pushing rear-discharge wall-mounted toilets and it showed a wall of really attractive decorative push plates. But for those not sold on the concept and for retrofit applications, Geberit introduced The Monolith. The concept uses a PVC fitting to convert a floor 12-in. rough-in to rear discharge. The monolith refers to the tall, thin rectangle that houses the water line and the dual-flush flush mechanism that ordinarily would be in the wall in a fixture carrier. The works in the tank are easily accessible. The Monolith is paired with a Philippe Starch-designed floor-mounted concealed trapway toilet.

Tired of flushing stuff? Well Zoeller has a way to make it all go bye-bye. Zoeller showed its new 915 Duplex Package System grinder pump with a ½-HP motor that runs on a 7A circuit. This grinder pump grinds. The Zoeller folks grabbed a rubber glove, tampon, large hunk of denim including the thick side seam from a pair of jeans, a red rag and a couple of those notorious wet wipes and shoved them into the pump. Check out our video of the pump in operation. The video is only 27 seconds long because the pump made short work of it.

InSinkErator showed its full line of disposers and had a demonstration room where they ground up test loads to show how quiet and efficient its top-of-the-line Evolution disposers are. Their stars of the show, however, were other kitchen accessories, including the Italian-designed 3N1 kitchen faucet that has a side handle that dispenses 210°F hot water from a High Performance Steamin' Hot tank right through the 3N1. If you want a separate hot water dispenser faucet, ISE showed them in finishes such as antique and oil rubbed bronze. The company’s more moderately priced (compared with the High Performance) hot water dispenser, the Hot 100, dispenses 60 cups per hour at 200°F. Going completely in the opposite direction, InSinkErator showed a new cold water chiller that produces 4-GPH at temperatures between 41°F-52°F. The chilled water tank is compatible with most of the firm’s Indulge Series hot and cold faucets.

Complete hydronic system

Warmboard showed its well-known 13/16-in. radiant panel and its 1⅛-in. structural/radiant panel, but its big announcement was the introduction of a complete hydronic system that can handle a 3,000-sq.ft. house for under $8/sq.ft.  Warmboard has put together an HTP Phoenix Light Duty 70,000 Btuh 97% efficient water heater with an integrated control package complete with Grundfos ECM pump and zone reset controller that sits atop the water heater. The assembly is no more complicated to hookup than a conventional water heater — water lines, gas connection and flue. Hot water goes through Watts Radiant zone valves and manifolds. A custom-made thermostat that communicates through an X-10 network controls the water heater, the circulator, the reset controller and the zone valves. An X-10 network uses the house’s electrical wiring for communication rather than separate wiring. The whole shebang sells for $3,900.

ClimateMaster featured its Tranquility 30 Digital Series unit, which joins the Tranquility 22 Digital Series to create the industry’s first heat pump product line integrating digital communicating controls, two-stage capacity, variable-speed fan and variable-flow geothermal source functions within a single package. ClimateMaster also showed its line of Tranquility split systems that includes the Tranquility Cased Coil and Digital Air Handler Series units, as well as the Tranquility Digital Split Series units.

Wondering what kind of chemicals are compatible with CPVC pipe? There’s an app for that. The Lubrizol Corp. introduced its latest Android mobile app, the FBC System Compatible product finder that identifies chemical compatibility between CPVC and other common construction chemicals. Previously available for the Apple iPhone and iPad, the app is now also available for free download on Android devices. The app provides information and tools about FlowGuard Gold, BlazeMaster, and Corzan piping systems. The app also includes the latest news from Lubrizol CPVC, as well as regional contact information for training and support in the field. The best thing about the mobile app is that Lubrizol will automatically update it when new information becomes available.

Bathroom Anywhere by Thetford has been a force in RV and marine toilet applications. The firm showed its rear-discharge, macerating, pump-up toilets with a 0.8-HP centrifugal pump. The pump side removes for service so there’s no need to disconnect the plumbing if junior has flushed his Matchbox car down the toilet.

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