Highlights from New England’s biggest construction industry trade show

If you’re in the building and remodeling business, you probably know the Journal of Light Construction, or JLC for short. This Hanley Wood enterprise includes a trade magazine, a website  and a schedule of regional trade shows that fill large convention halls across the country.

This year’s JLC Live trade show took place at the Providence, RI Convention Center from March 19 – 22. The 4-day event included dozens of workshops on everything from deck construction and trim carpentry to “Managing the Emotional Homeowner” and “10 Commandments of Remodeling.” The convention center’s main exhibition space was packed with booths representing manufacturers, building materials suppliers, trade organizations, and other outfits involved in the building business. What follows are the main highlights your editor gleaned while walking the show floor.

wood products

Is wood still good?
The answer really depends on personal preferences. I was glad to see some small, independent lumber and millwork companies (like this cedar specialist)
selling real wood products.

Fiberglass door faux wood finishing

Fiberglass frame-and-panel.
A finishing expert demonstrates how to stain a fiberglass exterior door to look like mahogany. Up close, the wood grain texture looks amazingly authentic. The finished appearance will closely mimic the look of a traditional wood door, but with greater durability, dimensional stability and excellent insulation value (thanks to the foam core sandwiched between the fiberglass skins).


PVC Gutters

PVC gutters.
Fabricated with thick walls like old-fashioned wood gutters, these PVC plastic gutters offer a traditional look with none of wood’s durability limitations. There’s a strong trend towards exterior finish products (siding, trim, roofing, windows, doors) that require little or no maintenance and last a long time.

Synthetic Decking Finishes

Synthetic show-off.
Competition among manufacturers of synthetic decking is FIERCE. That’s good news for homeowners who want decks: more color & texture choices, different hidden fastening systems, and decking patterns (like this one) you have to see to believe.

Woodworking power tools demo

Masters at work.
I love seeing the trim carpentry demonstrations, especially when they’re done using amazing German-made powertools from Festool.