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Innovations in Home Building Products and Materials

Don't limit yourself to tried-and-true, old-school building materials. Inventive manufacturers launch improved and exciting products all the time!

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

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Stone Veneer

Evolve Stone Mortarless Stone Veneer

Stone veneer as an alternative to natural stone is nothing new. However, most varieties still require a multi-step process beyond the capability of the average DIYer.

Evolve Stone’s mortarless stone veneer is an exception. Believe it or not, all you need to install this stone veneer is a nail gun and other basic tools that you probably already own. The product is also UV-resistant and stands up to moisture, wind and freezing, according to the manufacturer.

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AdvanTech X-Factor Subflooring

Move over plywood and oriented strand board (OSB), because subflooring just got a major upgrade with this resin-based engineered alternative. Designed with durability and sustainability in mind, X-Factor subflooring is suitable for use with all the typical finished flooring applications (carpet, wood, tile, etc.).

Its biggest selling point, however, is that it’s extremely moisture-resistant. Bonus: It’s made in the U.S., and offers a “squeak-free guarantee” if you install it with AdvanTech’s proprietary subfloor adhesive.

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Kiln-Dried Pressure-Treated Decking Material

When it comes to natural decking material, pressure-treated wood is ideal because of its rot-prevention properties. The downside? You need to wait two or three months to stain your new deck because the lumber has to dry, according to Chuck Khiel, vice president of FRED Home Improvement.

Khiel likes kiln-dried pressure-treated (KDAT) decking material instead, because you can stain and seal it immediately. Several companies manufacturer KDAT, including Yellawood and Culpeper.

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GoldHeat Electric Radiant Floor Heat Mats

Typically, subfloor radiant heat involves placing water-filled tubes (hydronic) or wires (electric) beneath the subfloor. GoldHeat’s product, a finalist in the 2021 National Association of Home Builders’ Best of IBSx Awards, is a little different.

It’s a custom mat, designed and cut just for your space. The mats work with tile, hardwood, vinyl, luxury vinyl tile, you name it. According to the manufacturer, the mats can be installed and operational within 15 minutes. Suddenly, slippers are obsolete.

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T-Stud Framing Material

T-Stud, an alternative to traditional 2×6 lumber, is essentially next-level framing material for your exterior walls. Picture two pieces of lumber attached with an internal truss system and filled with pour-in foam.

The foam, according to the manufacturer, reduces the flow of thermal energy and blocks the external temperature. That allows for more temperature consistency indoors, ultimately leading to more comfort and energy efficiency.

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Ascend Composite Cladding

Another NAHB Best of IBSx winner, Ascend composite cladding boasts the beauty of engineered wood siding with the durability of vinyl siding. According to the manufacturer, Ascend’s patented cladding is made from glass-reinforced polymer and graphite-infused polystyrene.

Potential customers will like the cladding because it’s fade-resistant, designed to stand up to wind, comes in 22 colors and boasts a Class A fire rating. The latter means flames spread slower than materials with a Class B or C rating.

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Barricade Thermo-Brace S.I.B. Four-in-One Structural Insulated Sheathing Solution

That’s a long name, but one worth learning if you’re trying to build a more energy-efficient home; the U.S. Department of Energy reports insulated sheathing plays a key role in the success of this undertaking. An NAHB IBSx finalist, this sheathing is lightweight, easy to install and comes in standard or custom sizes.

It features four layers of protection. The first layer provides water resistance, and the second the insulation (Neopar, considered more breathable than some varieties). Layer Three is fiberboard with a composite core (the sheathing itself), and the fourth layer shields the structure from extreme weather.

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Hemp Insulation

Hemp insulation isn’t exactly new to market, but there is growing interest in it among construction pros, Khiel says. Expect to see it used more as builders prioritize sustainable materials and governments loosen restrictions on hemp-based products.

What’s so great about it? It’s noncombustible and easy to install, like fiberglass and traditional insulation products, but without the negatives. Fiberglass, for example, is itchy and its R-value isn’t the greatest.

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Solar Roof Shingles

If you’re interested in harnessing solar power without upending your home’s aesthetic, solar shingles provide an alternative to obtrusive solar panels because they look like conventional shingles.

The biggest negative to this innovation? Money. Depending on the brand, the cost to outfit your roof with solar shingles could be in the six-figure range. Plus, manufacturers are still refining the technology. “Solar roof shingles (are) not perfected yet,” says Los Angeles-based Dirty Girl Construction owner Joan Barton.

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TuffSkin Surface Protection

Marble, onyx and travertine countertops can show wear and tear quickly and easily, and unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done about it after the fact. Tuffskin Surface Protection, however, helps protect countertops from damage before it happens.

Available in satin or gloss, the product is an adhesive polyester film that comes in rolls and essentially disappears when attached to the countertops. The manufacturer says this product is not only heat-resistant, but chemical- and odor-free. It can be removed or replaced if needed.

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Dawn Weinberger
Dawn Weinberger is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon who has contributed to numerous publications and websites over the past 20 years, including, Glamour, Women's Health, Entrepreneur, and many others. Dawn has a BA in journalism from Western Washington University and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She writes about everything from health and medicine to fashion, shopping, and business.