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Dry Feet

Footing drains are one of those things that your customers will never see and probably won't get too excited about — until water starts seeping into their basement. Perforated pipe and stone work fine, but if you're looking for a faster method, you might try the DrainStar. At 12 inches high and covered with a filter fabric, DrainStar eliminates the gravel and, according to the manufacturer, installs faster than pipe. Special adapters allow connections to standard 4-inch pipe for getting the water to daylight. Prices are said to be comparable to those for conventional perforated pipe and stone. Tremco Barrier Solutions, 800/876-5624,


Cutting It Close

I-joist manufacturers are very specific about the size and location of holes for plumbing and mechanicals, and cutting nonstandard holes or getting too close to chords or bearing points can create a problem. Fortunately, the fix doesn't have to be. ReWeb is a 16-gauge repair plate that has a higher load rating than any joist presently on the market. In addition to fixing a botched joist, you can use it to sturdy a joist when you can't run a pipe or duct anywhere else. The U-shaped design means that the ReWeb can be installed in repair situations without removing the offending obstacle. They're available in several sizes and sell for about $35. Matrix Xtreme, 866/320-5340,


Corrosive Personality

Since the phaseout of CCA-treated lumber, deck builders have complained that the new pressure-treating formulas start rusting connectors and fasteners at an accelerated rate. Deck Protector is a 4-inch-wide self-adhering flashing that isolates the lumber so that corrosive chemicals have less contact with metal connectors and fittings. The manufacturer says that a layer on the top side of the joists also prevents water from following deck screws and nails into the joist center, allowing decks, docks, and other outdoor structures to last longer. A 4-inch by 75-foot roll sells for about $20. Grace Construction Products, 800/354-5414,


Faster Flashing

Pipes and electrical boxes on exterior walls can provide an easy route for water to get inside the structure, and caulks and sealants are a temporary fix at best. But you can permanently seal around pipes and electrical boxes with Quick Flash. The little plastic flashings are easily integrated into a drainage plane, and the snug-fitting flexible seals allow seasonal movement while preventing air and water intrusion. They're available for pipes up to 4 inches in diameter and for single-gang and round electrical boxes. They sell for $4.75. Quickflash Waterproofing Products, 714/596-3800,


Sound-Stopping Gaskets

Putting gaskets between building panels and framing members is one of the best ways to reduce sound transmission and prevent air leakage. Unfortunately, many framers think that gasket systems are too labor intensive and finicky for production building. Integrity Construction Gaskets install faster than most, thanks to a rolling dispenser that straddles the framing member and adjusts from 1 1/2 to 3 inches wide. The 1/8-inch-thick self-adhesive gaskets are sold in 1 7/16-, 2 1/4-, and 3 1/8-inch widths, and, according to the maker, the pressure-sensitive adhesive sticks to both wood and metal framing. They cost about 10¢ a foot. Shadwell Company, 800/494-4148,


Combo Housewrap

Rainscreen siding combined with an effective drainage plane is one of the best systems for preventing water infiltration and giving paints and stains their best chance at a long life. But furring out your siding and properly detailing flashings and housewrap does take some extra time. Benjamin Obdyke's new Home Slicker Plus Typar combines the popular housewrap with a plastic matrix that holds the siding about 1/4 inch from the sheathing, so any moisture that finds its way behind the siding will run out the bottom. It saves you the additional step of installing the matrix once the housewrap and flashings are in place. A 39-inch-wide roll covers 200 square feet and sells for about $120. Benjamin Obdyke, 800/523-5261,


R-Value Verifier

One of the commonly cited weaknesses of blow-in insulation systems is having to determine whether the product has been installed to the specified density — if it hasn't, performance could be significantly affected. Owens Corning, trying to get better acceptance of blown-in fiberglass, has offered its certified installers a simple instrument to assure builders and homeowners that there's enough fluffy stuff in the wall. The Inspect-R Density Gauge is easy to use and appears very rugged. Insulating a 2x4 wall with the Pro Pink system costs about 75¢ per square foot; 2x6 walls cost around $1.25. Owens Corning, 800/438-7465,


Brainy Barrier

If you're concerned that the poly in your walls could prevent drying and lead to moisture damage or mold, you might consider the MemBrain vapor barrier from CertainTeed. Billed as the first "smart" vapor barrier, MemBrain's permeability varies from 1 perm during dry conditions to more than 20 perms at high humidity. The variable permeability allows wall assemblies to dry when wetted, yet it also prevents vapor from migrating into wall cavities. The maker says that the 2-mil-thick product is as strong as 6-mil polyethylene and would cost about $350 for a 2,400-square-foot house. CertainTeed, 800/233-8990,


Long-Lasting Flashing

Copper is beautiful and long lasting, but it's also expensive and reacts badly with ACQ-treated lumber. YorkShield 106 HP Flashing uses a 3-, 5-, or 7-ounce layer of copper (compared to 16- or 20-ounce for solid copper) bonded to a mesh substrate. The reinforcing mesh adhered with a waterproof adhesive protects the copper from pressure-treated wood and makes it less expensive than solid copper. The thin copper layer means it's easier to form and cuts with scissors. York HP is available in several thicknesses and roll sizes. Prices start at about $16 for a 20-foot roll of 8-inch flashing. York Manufacturing, 800/551-2828,


Call Me Dusty

Dusty shops and construction trailers aren't the best places for expensive computer equipment. Airborne grit can destroy your hard drive, leaving you without your most important business tool. You can provide a little more protection for your important records and expensive electronics with the Dirt Bag. The breathable bag prevents dust and dirt from reaching internal components, and Velcro flaps protect CD and DVD drives. It sells for about $20. Dirt Bag, 906/337-2433,


New Glue

Titebond wood glue has been around for a long time, but carpenters and woodworkers now have more adhesive choices than ever, so the company has developed a new waterproof formula to keep pace. Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue offers several advantages over previous Titebond formulas including a longer working time, greater strength, and freeze-thaw stability. It works in temperatures as low as 47°F and lasts up to 12 months in a sealed container. Early response from builders and woodworkers has been very favorable. A quart sells for about $14. Franklin International, 800/877-4583,