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Products, continued


Clear Improvement.

Solvent-based clear sealants are great for many tasks, but the odor is a bit much for interior remodeling work. Some homeowners complain they can detect the smell even weeks after application. Latex products have less smell, but clear latex formulas usually have a slightly amber or cloudy appearance. Alex Plus latex caulk is now available in what manufacturer Dap claims is a "crystal clear" formulation. The quick-drying latex offers easy cleanup and less stink. Dap has also launched Alex Plus in antique white to better match the favorite builder shade. The clear sells for $2.50, and the antique white sells for about $2.




Air-Sealing Salve.

You might not think Tremco's Acoustical Sealant would be an ideal air-sealing product, but energy-conscious Alaskan and Canadian builders love it. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Extension Service, the product never hardens, flows easily in cold weather, and sticks tenaciously to anything, including difficult materials like poly sheeting and Tyvek. Experienced users advise keeping acetone or kerosene on hand for cleanup.



Sealant Breakthrough.

It's irritating enough trying to break the seal inside a tube of caulk while you're hanging from a ladder. Adding insult to injury, many of today's import caulking guns don't have an on-board spout poker. So you have to rummage through your toolbelt for a nail, screw, or anything else long enough to puncture the seal. You can free yourself from both hassles with OSI's new break-away seal, found on tubes of Quad Sealant. The special seal breaks automatically when you start caulking. The paintable sealant can be used in temperatures down to 20°F and is available in 150 colors. It costs about $6.


OSI Sealants


Room to Move.

You wouldn't expect to fill a 2-inch gap with caulking, but Sashco claims that its Big Stretch goes the distance. The latex-based sealant can stretch more than 100% of its original width, and it cleans up with soap and water. Available in nine colors, it's compatible with most building materials, with the exception of oil-based, painted surfaces. It costs about $65 per case.




Fire Fighter.

In the past few years, the phrases "fire blocking" and "fire stopping" have become more common in building inspection circles. Inspectors are increasingly diligent about sealing holes and penetrations that contribute to flame spread. Any hole that connects two framing cavities or building levels should be closed up, and the sealant must comply with ASTM E-136, certifying that it's noncombustible. Handi-Seal FR 136 from Fomo is one example of a water-based, fire-blocking sealant. Its pink color distinguishes it from conventional sealants that aren't flame proof.


Fomo Products



Fiber-Optic Bead.

If your customers are planning the ultimate home theater, you could suggest decorative fiber-optic cabling. Trim-Tex, the manufacturer of plastic corner bead, also offers a reveal bead that receives decorative 3/8-inch fiber-optic cable. The 2-inch-wide channel works with both 1/2- and 5/8-inch board and requires a 1/2-inch groove. Turning corners in the same plane requires special preformed accessory pieces.




Cover Your Butt.

No matter how skilled the finishing and feathering, even an untrained eye can pick up the hump of a butt seam in the right light, and today's big homes have more of them. Using the Butthanger is among the easier ways to deal with the problem. A U-shaped channel draws in the board's butt edges, creating a depression similar to that of factory-tapered edges. The manufacturer points out that this product also makes installation of trim and countertops easier. The Butthanger retails for $6.75 each.




Clever Clips.

Instaback Drywall Fasteners provide a great way to deal with butt seams and patches. The versatile metal clips provide support and make a slightly tapered butt joint for easier finishing. Once the board is secured to the clips with screws, the front tab is broken off. Instabacks also make hanging ceilings easier by supporting one end of the board while you hold and fasten the other — great for solo work. They cost around 20¢ apiece in packages of 200.


Prest-On Company


Home Sweet Dome.

I can't imagine a more labor-intensive and time-consuming process than framing and finishing an interior dome. However, USG's Drywall Suspension System offers preformed components for domes and arched ceilings with radii from 32 inches to 20 feet. The light-gauge metal components include curved main runners and associated hanging and joining hardware. USG's website includes component dimensions, design and estimating help, and installation instructions.




Board Stretcher.

According to the manufacturer, you can make your drywall go further and save some installation time with a Rock Cleat. The plastic cleat eliminates the need to land the drywall on a stud or joist and the 54-inch length makes it suitable for wide board. Of course, you could accomplish the same thing with a scrap of lumber, but you can cut the Rock Cleat with a utility knife. It comes in three styles, one for typical butt seams, one for a 90-degree inside corner, and one for angled corners and returns up to 120 degrees. The Rock Cleat for butt seams retails for $3 each.


Crane Products


Mud Flap.

Keeping paint and joint compound off posts, beams, and windows can be a one-step process with PullAway Bead by Trim-Tex. The vinyl L-bead includes a removable, 1/2-inch fin to protect adjacent surfaces from blobs and spatters. Unlike masking tape that can leave tiny remnants or a sticky residue behind, PullAway Bead comes off quick and clean.