TOH Top 100: Best New Home Products of 2017, Editors’ Picks
The Top 100 are chosen every year by the editors of This Old House magazine. Here, we take you through a few exciting highlights, like El Dorado’s stunning cast-concrete wood veneer and Ridgid’s battery-powered air compressor. After this teaser, check out the whole round up here.
YOUR TURN: Think there’s a 2017 home product we forgot? What's YOUR favorite find this year? Tell us about it in the comments section at the bottom of this page!
Hi, this is Peter Marr for This Old House’s Top 100. Every year we pick 100 top products in construction and home design, and here are some of the highlights.
Let’s start with tools.
First up is Kreg Tool’s Mobile Project Center. The project center is a is a workbench, sawhorse, assembly table, and clamping station all in one. It’s great for DIY, repair, and woodworking projects. It’s easy to set up and store away, and it provides a sturdy platform for all kinds of project tasks. We like its 350lb workload capacity. It provides a little more sturdiness than other super-light, foldable workstations. The legs are metal and it comes with Kreg’s “Automaxx” bench clamps and bench dogs. The Project Center folds down to be stored pretty easily. It retails for about $160 here in the US.
Next up are some which leverage new tech in useful ways.
This is the Worx Advanced Intelligence drill. This 20-volt drill/driver has a smart chuck. It automatically centers bits being tightened in its jaws, senses torque and stops when a screw is perfectly set. And its PULSE ASSIST feature helps extracting soft or worn screws. Feels good in the hand and retails for $119
Ridgid Tools Brushless 18V 1 Gallon Air Compressor. This compressor is the first battery-powered air compressor for shooting nails and staples, or just filling tires. Fill the 1-gallon tank up to 120 psi, then drive up to 1,200 brad nails. Best yet, it’s portable and you can haul it up to the roof without an extension cord. Weighs just 19 pounds and retails for $199.
General Tool’s Laser Tape Measure combines a 50ft laser distance measurer with a 16ft tape measure. You can quickly get long distance and short-span measurements from the same tool. The Laser Tape Measure is affordable and allows you to quickly measure the length of a room, determine the width of a table, or hang a picture frame. This was a favorite of not only our magazine staff, but also the GenNext apprentices on our Newton Jobsite. Retails for $35.
Finally, the Wagner Furno 750 Heat Gun is suited to the heavy DIY'er who knows how to use these power tools. It has the most-precise digital temperature settings, from 125 to 1300 degrees, a dynamic LCD touchscreen, and multiple fan speeds for projects such as softening putty and caulk, stripping paint and thawing frozen pipes. It retails for about $70.
Editors' Pick not shown in video: Looking for a great gift for the advanced DIY’er/contractor in your life? FLIR ONE Pro is a tiny thermal imaging camera that attaches to your smartphone, showing how much heat a surface is emitting so you can find overheated circuits, missing insulation, or dampness. Retails for $399.
Next, let’s move onto some building and finishing products that made our list.
Weathered wood has been a popular look over the last several years and now there’s some very high-quality ways to achieve it without having to tear down an old barn or go shopping for scarce reclaimed resources.
The worn barn-wood look of Eldorado’s cast-concrete veneer is so convincing, you have to touch it to believe it. But it’s concrete and will last forever, no painting, insects or anything, It’s got a nice warm look, is incredibly durable and low maintenance compared to real wood paneling. It retails for $7 per square foot.
Similarly, This Walnut Ceramic Plank tiling from Lumber Liquidators is now a popular kitchen flooring material. Maybe you saw us use it in the Detroit house on the most recent season of This Old House. It gives a nice warm look AND, importantly, is compatible with radiant-heat floor systems. The Price varies based on width.
Varathane’s Weathered Wood Accelerator gives new wood that nice, warm look of weathered boards on bare or untreated wood. It replicates the aging process that happens in nature by reacting with the wood to create a unique one-of-a-kind aged gray look. The look varies, of course, based on the type of wood you use. About 10 bucks a quart.
Finally, we have Federal Brace’s paint-grade maple corbels. Federal Brace have added better weight bearing capability to decorative corbels. The routed hidden channel accepts an inch-thick, powder-coated steel “rib” to support up to 375 pounds. These are a good example of a decorative feature you can install at the end of the project. The pre-fitted bracket eliminates the risk of splitting the corbel or matching stain to cover mounting holes. There are about 8 styles available. Price varies a bit by style.
And, of course, we can’t leave out plumbing.
This sleek, well-priced faucet from Blanco has a pull-down spray and comes in polished chrome or stainless finish. Its 16 3/8” height makes it a great choice for islands. And the pull down sprayer helps with cleaning various types of pots and pans. Retails for about $200.
The Moen Motion Sense Wave faucets, shown here, are another example of a nice product: they feature touchless activation. So you can turn the water off and on with a wave of your hand. And, of course, it still has a traditional handle for old-school use. Retails for around $298.
Editors' Picks not shown in video: Speaking of water—where there’s moisture, there’s risk for mold. Flo-X is the only EPA-registered mold killer; this bleach-free, borate-based spray does away with fungi in 5 minutes. It comes packaged for five different uses: indoor/outdoor, HVAC, shower and bath, tile and grout, and paint prep. Retails for $20 each.
And that’s just a brief sample of some of the great stuff you’ll find on our Top 100. Check it out at thisoldhouse.com/top100 and let us know what you think. Maybe next year we can include something you think is cool.
ABOUT THE HOST
Peter Marr is an LA-based contractor originally from Omaha, Nebraska. He started his construction career at the age of 14. After high school he worked for various subcontractors until he started his own construction business. Always drawn to the challenge of taking raw material and shaping it into something amazing, he now splits his time between his favorite activities: visual storytelling, construction, and comedy.