"You always have to be skeptical," Kim Kravalis of Magnolia, Del., said as Franks dabbed her sneaker toe, leaving it clean. "But I'll try it."
In the less prosaic realm, quartz is competing with granite for high-end kitchens. Both are made of natural stone, but granite slabs are mined whole, and quartz is ground and combined with polyester resins.
Quartz is "more durable, has more consistent color, and resists cracking and chipping," said Emily Lee, a saleswoman with Element Granite & Quartz of Philadelphia.
Speaking of high-end, LED lighting systems are joining other "smart" technology such as interactive appliances, lights, and thermostats. LA Signature Home Interiors, with two Philadelphia offices, is doing a Society Hill Towers renovation in which a bedroom wall changes colors thanks to LEDs.
"I notice people are not doing improvements for resale value," said Signature's lead designer, Luis Hoz de Vila. "Now, people care about what's going to benefit their lifestyle."
Along the same lines, aging homeowners are remodeling to accommodate their changing physical needs. One Day Bath Inc. of the Poconos, for example, converts bathtubs into step-in showers by removing up to 30 inches of the front of the tub.
"It's done in a day, it's economical, and it's reversible," company co-owner Charles Etgen said.
Energy efficiency, long a driver of home improvements, was another big theme of the show, which runs Sunday, Monday, and next weekend, Jan. 24 through 26 (for hours and ticket prices, go to www.phillyhomeshow.com). Energy suppliers, solar-panel makers, heating and cooling companies, and makers of windows, doors, and siding were on hand.
Steve Smith, a sales associate with Dream House Windows of West Berlin, Camden County, demonstrated double-hung windows that not only had high energy performance ratings but also tilted out for cleaning and latched effortlessly. Guaranteed.
Finally, a word to remember about bedding: Bamboo.
Thread made of bamboo is more porous and absorbent than cotton or polyester threads, so bamboo fabrics are cooler to the skin, as well as hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant, said Nicole Serra, a saleswoman with the California company Bamboo Pillows.
The REM Sleep Solution bed, with its natural bamboo fiber cover, claimed to be even better - "bedbug and dust-mite free."