Composite rail system offers integral mildew protection

The CorrectDeck RapidRail CX railing system includes an antimicrobial to reduce the chance of mildew growth in high-humidity conditions. With a low-luster finish that complements the company's line of composite decking, RapidRail CX is PVC-free and reportedly offers the heft, weight, and feel of lumber — not plastic — without the maintenance of wood. The antimicrobial protection is incorporated into each rail, baluster, and post using a coextrusion process, so the protection will not wash off or wear away, according to the manufacturer. Because the material's wood fibers are coated with plastic, the product deters grease and food stains, and the addition of concentrated UV inhibitors enables the railing to resist color fading as well. For more information, contact Correct Building Products, 877-332-5877; www.correctdeck.com

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Speedy Anchor

Structural screw simplifies ledger connections and retrofit sill bolting

Simpson Strong-Tie has introduced the Titen HD, a heavy-duty screw anchor for high-strength applications in concrete and masonry. Available in 3/8- to 3/4-inch diameters, the Titen HD is installed in a predrilled hole using a conventionally sized masonry bit. The threads on the Titen HD hold the key to its performance: Hardened cutting teeth at the tip of the anchor undercut the concrete as the anchor is driven, allowing the rest of the threads to follow with very little friction. The result is a continuous mechanical interlock between the anchor and base material that requires minimal installation torque and does little damage to the base material. For more information, contact Simpson Strong-Tie, 800-999-5099; www.simpsonanchors.com

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Durable Decks

Waterproof floor vinyl rolls out like roofing

Duradek, a waterproof vinyl that comes in rolls like membrane roofing, is designed to serve as a nonskid wear surface and waterproof sealer for exterior house decks. The material can be glued to virtually any clean, dry substrate, and it comes in a variety of textures to accommodate a range of home styles. According to the manufacturer, the fire-retardant material resists mildew, salt spray, UV radiation, and freeze/thaw cycles. All installers are required to be factory trained and certified, and the work requires some specialty tools, like heat guns, that few carpenters carry in their toolboxes. The installation techniques, however, are reasonably easy to master and are similar to those needed to install vinyl flooring or single-ply roof membranes. The payoff is a more durable deck covering than fiberglass or epoxy trowel membranes. For more information, contact Duradek Ltd., 800-338-3568; www.duradek.com

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Shelter from the Storm

Composite storm-room panels offer ultimate amenity

More than a Jacuzzi or home theater, the storm room — a reinforced safe room built into a house that provides protection from extreme winds — has become the ultimate amenity for coastal homes. (FEMA provides plans for such a shelter at www.fema.gov/pdf/fima/fema320.pdf.) Norplex-Micarta has recently improved the concept with the introduction of its StormBlocker system, which includes reinforced framing and high-strength panels made of a fiberglass-based thermoset composite material that can reportedly survive exposure to F5 tornadoes and Category 5 hurricanes without penetration or damage. Unlike shelters that rely on concrete and steel, the walls of the composite-based system are relatively thin and easy to cut using common construction tools, so they can be adapted to any floor plan. For more information, contact Norplex-Micarta, 800-848-4431; www.norplex-micarta.com

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Faster Fastening

Hidden fastener for grooved decking

The Tiger Claw TC-G hidden deck fastener is designed for use with pregrooved composites and hardwood decking materials. Made from .060-inch-thick 304-2B stainless steel, the TC-G has an annealed black oxide coating like other Tiger Claw fasteners, so it virtually disappears between deck boards. Unlike many deck fasteners that are driven into the edge of deck boards to pin them in place, the TC-G allows for 1/8-inch expansion or contraction of decking to accommodate seasonal movement without compromising wind-uplift resistance. For more information, contact Tiger Claw Inc., 800-928-4437; www.deckfastener.com

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Revolutionary Roof

Moisture-proofed OSB eliminates need for felt

Huber Engineered Woods, the company that brought AdvanTech OSB to the market, recently introduced a roof sheathing with a built-in slip-resistant moisture barrier that doesn't require an additional underlayment. The Zip System Roof is comprised of 1/2-inch-thick paper-laminated OSB panels designed to be installed with proprietary 33/4-inch-wide tape at all panel end and edge joints. Together, panels and seam tape provide a code-recognized replacement for roof sheathing and conventional felt underlayment. This system allows framers to dry-in a roof as soon as the sheathing is installed and provides the type of secondary water barrier recommended for roofs in hurricane country. If the roofing blows off in a tropical storm, the roof is still protected from water penetration. For more information, contact Huber Engineered Woods, 800-933-9220; www.huberwood.com

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Synthetic Underlayment

Advanced polymers resist heat and blow-offs

Palisade synthetic roofing underlayment offers a high-strength roofing underlayment that is six times lighter with 30 times greater tear strength than No. 30 asphalt felt, reports the manufacturer. The result is fewer blow-offs during exposed roof conditions. The lightweight material (10 squares per 40-pound roll) offers an antiskid surface and reflective cool color to reduce heat buildup during installation. Because the material is made with advanced polymers that can withstand temperatures up to 300°F, it can be used beneath copper and other metal roofing without a rosin paper separator as required over asphalt felt. Palisade underlayment offers enhanced protection from UV exposure (up to six months without covering), a Class A fire rating, and a 25-year warranty. For more information, contact SDP Advanced Polymer Products, 866-747-4035; www.sdp-products.com

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Maximum Opening

Elegant doors provide privacy and security with unobstructed views

Loewen bifold doors virtually disappear, creating a seamless transition between indoors and out. These exterior bifold doors are available in configurations up to 16 panels, allowing for openings up to 52 feet wide that fold to the outside to maximize interior floor space. The Loewen bifolds come in metal clad and natural wood exteriors in standard panel widths up to 39 inches and heights up to 10 feet; custom sizes are also available. Bifold doors use standard Loewen terrace door multipoint locking hardware and matching handle finishes. The doors are top hung and include a bronze anodized sill with an integral drainage system. For more information, contact Loewen, 877-563-9368; www.loewen.com

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Pristine Trim

High-quality, voidless PVC trim stock

Cellular PVC has become the trim stock of choice in coastal applications, where the material's resistance to moisture, rot, and termites makes it an integral component of a durable exterior. Fypon, a leading manufacturer of polyurethane trim, has now entered the cellular PVC trim arena, offering a high-quality cellular PVC stock without voids or imperfections. Like other cellular PVC materials, the new Fypon material can be cut and shaped with standard woodworking tools and can be placed directly on masonry or on grade. Fypon's PVC trim product line includes PVC Column Wrap — prejoined, two-piece surrounds in both tapered and nontapered configurations with integral Craftsman-style cap and base. Fluted, raised-panel, and recessed-panel configurations are available. For more information, contact Fypon, 800-446-3040; www.fypon.com

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Competing Compressors

The next generation of portable compressors

Both Hitachi and DeWalt have introduced new lightweight, compact compressors for trim work. Weighing in at just 63.7 pounds, the Hitachi EC119SA features a cast-iron, oil-lubricated pump with oversized bearings and a 15-amp induction motor, which runs significantly quieter and longer than comparable universal motors. The four-gallon twin stack has been enclosed in a roll cage with an integral control panel that protects the gauge, regulator, and plumbing. Additional features include drain ball valves, a cord wrap, a protected pressure switch, shock-absorbing feet, manual overload protection, a two-handed handle, and two factory-installed couplers.

The DeWalt D55141 is a much smaller two-gallon unit, weighing in at 30 pounds, and it features an oilless pump powered by a 10-amp universal motor. The DeWalt model, too, offers an innovative roll cage design with a wraparound control panel that safely protects the unit and controls, and DeWalt offers a similar menu to the Hitachi of additional features, including a ball drain valve, a convenient cord wrap, and dual quick couplers.

For more information, contact Hitachi Power Tools, 800-829-4752; www.hitachipowertools.com , and DeWalt Power Tools, 800-433-9258; www.dewalt.com

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HITACHI EC119SA

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DEWALT D55141