Versatile and Green. Composed of 100 percent postconsumer recycled materials (wood fibers encapsulated in plastic), TimberWolf Fencing features a textured wood-grain finish in cedar or redwood. Since its components include individual dog-eared pickets, backer rails, and posts — in addition to prefabricated panels — it could be a good choice for a fence on rolling terrain. The 6-foot dog-eared pickets cost about $4.50 apiece; 5-foot-by-6-foot prebuilt privacy panels cost $80 each. The company also makes prefabricated 3-foot-by-6-foot Gothic picket-fence panels and a matching gate. FiberTech Polymers, 888/248-9653, www.timberwolfcomposites.com
Classy Caps. The purpose of a post cap is to protect vulnerable end grain from the elements. But these fixtures also add a rich finishing touch to fence posts and deck railings. Latitudes, a complete line of composite decking and railing components, contains some of the most attractive choices available. Latitudes Ornamental Post Caps come in a solid composite made to look like cedar, redwood, or walnut; they can also be clad in stainless steel, copper, or — for a whimsical touch — glass (including Tiffany-style designs). The plain composite cap costs $5, the copper-clad cap $12.50. Universal Forest Products, 877/463-8379, www.latitudesdeck.com
I Can't Believe It's Not Wood. The problem with most plastic fencing is that it looks like plastic. Eon Fencing is a 100 percent plastic product that — in pictures, at least — looks a lot like wood. Unlike wood or composites, however, it won't rot, split, fade, or weather — says the maker — and never needs painting or staining. It's available as a solid-panel privacy fence or as a solid panel with lattice across the top; color choices are cedar and redwood. Costs per panel range from $120 to $200, depending on design and size. The company makes fence posts and caps — as well as decking, rails, and docks — from the same material. CPI Plastics Group, 866/342-5366, www.eonoutdoor.com
If your clients have a drummer in the family, suggest walling off the practice area with QuietZone Acoustic Framing. Sold in 2x4 and 2x6 nominal sizes, each stud is constructed of two strips of engineered lumber joined by acoustically resilient metal clips. When used as part of an assembly that includes insulation and sealant, the studs can achieve a sound-transmission class (STC) rating as high as 63, says the maker. Purchased directly from the maker, they cost two to three times more than conventional studs, depending on shipping charges. Owens Corning, 866/864-5710, www.quietzoneframing.com
Loud noise is everywhere these days — and much of it seeps into houses through the windows. Double panes and storms help, but Soundproof Windows can be even more effective. The maker says these units reduce noise levels by 75 percent to 95 percent. Available in both standard and custom colors, they're placed inside the existing windows and open and close the same way. Prices start at $400 per window; the unit shown costs $500. The company also makes soundproof sliding glass doors. Soundproof Windows, 877/438-7843, www.soundproofwindows.com
No More Quacking Ducts.
The basement is a popular location for a home theater, but its ubiquitous ductwork can be a big problem: The ducts tend to amplify and transmit sound waves throughout the house. To ensure that the Terminator never wakes up the homeowners' baby — and that their furnace kicking on doesn't ruin the kissing scene in Pretty Woman — wrap ducts with an acoustical insulation like SoundSense LV-A. In addition to a layer of 1-inch rigid fiberglass, this product has a 1/8-inch-thick outer layer of high-density vinyl specially designed for sound reduction. A 120-square-foot (4-foot-by-30-foot) roll costs $570. SoundSense, 631/324-2266, www.soundsense.com
My 8-year-old cannot believe that when I was a kid, we had to get up to change the television station. Now, thanks to Lutron's Maestro IR dimmer, you don't have to move from the couch to fiddle with the lighting, either. Once you replace a standard light switch with a Smart Dimmer (which includes an IR receiver), the remote control IR transmitter can turn the lights up, down, or off from anywhere within 30 feet of the switch. The remote also features a memory setting that, with the push of a button, can recall a favorite light level. A single-location dimming package, which includes one switch and one remote, costs about $55. Multilocation packages and low-voltage dimmers are also available. Lutron Electronics, 888/588-7661, www.lutron.com/maestroir
Recessed lights are convenient and unobtrusive, but they all pretty much look the same: small circles in the ceiling. With Designer Series Squares, from Indy (a division of Juno Lighting), you get small squares in the ceiling instead. The units come in numerous styles and configurations; options include energy-efficient compact-fluorescent downlighting and accent lights equipped with adjustable metal halide bulbs (shown). Designed primarily for the commercial market, the fixtures are not made for contact with insulation. Prices range from $50 to $100 each. Juno Lighting, 317/849-1233, www.junolightinggroup.com
Fixtures That Only Look Old.
I've replaced all the incandescent light bulbs in my Victorian-era house with compact fluorescents (CF) — except for the ones in the period lighting fixtures. Unfortunately, even today's slimmed-down CF bulbs are too bulky to fit inside the ancient shades. If I ever need to tear out those old lights, I'll put new models from Rejuvenation in their place. A leading maker of authentic reproduction lighting and hardware, this company offers an ever-expanding line of interior and exterior fixtures that use compact-fluorescent lamps. Its current lineup includes Art Deco, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman styles, all of which come in myriad sizes and finishes. (The Liberty pendant is shown.) Prices range from $100 to $500. Rejuvenation, 888/401-1900, www.rejuvenation.com