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No-Sweat Copper Fittings

Still a little unsure of your pipe-sweating skills? This product might be worth a look. PermaLynx copper fittings push onto conventional hard-copper tubing without special tools or a torch. They have one-way, stainless-steel barbs that resist pull-out forces of up to 2,000 foot-pounds and an EDPM gasket that maintains a seal in temperatures from -30°F to 210°F. The fittings work with K-, L-, and M-type copper tubing that measures 1/2 inch to 2 inches in diameter. Even if you're handy with a torch, this product should be a big help in remodeling situations where you can't remove all the water from a pipe, or where you're a little too close to combustibles. The maker says the PermaLynx system costs about four times the price of conventional copper fittings but greatly reduces labor costs. NVent, 877/663-5263,

Painter's Friend

There are times when setting up for a small painting job takes longer than the actual painting. With a 1-Gallon Grid from Wooster, you can skip some of the preparation. The small plastic grid allows you to use a compact roller and paint right from the can. Since the grid locks on the can's rim, it won't come out when you roll and it won't fall on your customer's carpet when you pour. Small legs maintain the right angle. According to Wooster, the product works with most 3- and 4-inch rollers and sells for $3. Wooster Brush Company, 800/392-7246,

Bug Light

Ductwork can be a haven for all sorts of scary things, some of which can make you pretty sick. The BreatheClean system is an ultraviolet-light air purifier that mounts in the ductwork or plenum of the central air conditioning or forced-air heating system. It uses about 75 watts of electricity and reportedly can kill most airborne pathogens, including mold spores, bacteria, fungi, and cold germs. The system includes a template for drilling and mounting and promises to be an easy installation. It sells for $280 on the Web. Peterson Air Purifiers, 866/332-7247,


Unified Style.

Need hardware for a house with indeterminate or eclectic architecture? Check out Baldwin's Tahoe line. This collection of locksets and hardware delivers a nice balance of simplicity and style and blends easily with design elements from vastly different architectural periods. The line comes in 10 finishes and includes interior and exterior knobs and levers. The entrance set shown has a list price of $320. Baldwin, 800/437-7448,

Water Management.

With an integral weep system and unsurpassed resistance to water and dust infiltration, the Hydrosill may just be the best-designed aluminum threshold available. Most thresholds rely on a raised hump and a sweep on the door bottom to prevent water from seeping in. The problem is that a tight-fitting sweep requires extra force to close the door, and the constant opening and closing eventually reduces the arrangement's effectiveness. Hydrosill's two-tiered sill channels water back outside — plus a Q-LON foam gasket provides a tight seal without the typical drag and wear problems. The Hydrosill comes in sizes suitable for standard entry doors, swinging patio doors, and entry systems with sidelights. A 3-foot version for a 2x4 wall costs about $26. Schlegel, 800/586-0354,

Keyless Security.

After one or two lockouts, many folks resort to "hiding" a spare key under the doormat to prevent future inconveniences. Not surprisingly, that's exactly where anyone trying to break in looks first. Help your customers bypass the hassles and security risks of key mishaps with the Powerbolt 1000. This deadbolt sounds an alarm after a third unsuccessful attempt at entering the four- to eight-digit security code. (A second combination can be programmed for guests and housekeepers.) The lock works with 23/8- and 23/4-inch bore patterns and comes in polished brass and satin finishes. I found it on the Web for about $100. Kwikset, 800/327-5625,


Colorful Character.

For applications that require a little more style, TimberTech's Ornamental Spindles may be just the ticket. Unlike many other composite rail systems, this one comes in four different colors: cedar, grey, redwood, and whitesand. The TimberTech product line also includes post covers, post caps, and skirtboards in those same hues. Packaged rail kits are available in 6- and 8-foot lengths; prices run between $17 and $22 per foot. TimberTech, 800/307-7780,

Seeing Clearly.

Conventional, tightly spaced balusters can hamper a nice view and clutter the clean lines of modern architecture. Custom-made alternatives are expensive and may require long lead times. Fortunately, there's another option: Deckorators' Glass Balusters. Made from 5/16-inch tempered glass, these unique 4-inch-wide, 31-inch-tall rails can withstand 400 pounds of pressure, says the maker. They have predrilled holes for attachment and angled cuts at the top and bottom for stairs and other sloped applications. (A subrail hides the angled cuts on straight runs.) The balusters are sold in packs of five and come in three tints: clear, autumn, and dust. Clear packs sell for $60; colored for $75. Deckorators, 800/332-5724,

Long Sleeves.

Giving ordinary pressure-treated 4x4s a facelift is easy with Quick Clad Post Sleeves from Woodway. The four-sided post covers slip over standard 31/2-inch posts, converting them to more substantial-looking 6-inch versions. The sleeves include precut, mitered trim for the bottom; matching post caps are sold separately. The product comes in red cedar ($49; shown) and dark-red meranti ($66), in 40- and 48-inch lengths. Woodway, 800/459-8718,


Skip the lengthy, laborious process of priming and painting wood railings and opt for a prefinished rail system. CertainTeed's EverNew aluminum-reinforced, vinyl-rail product is a good choice for coastal areas and harsh climates. The assemblage includes top and bottom rails, balusters, and accessories, all protected by thick vinyl. The company also makes matching porch columns with a similar vinyl covering. Depending on the profile, prices range from $6 to $10 per foot for straight runs. Complicated designs or sloping installations may cost more. CertainTeed, 800/233-8990,


Quick-Dry Damp Cellulose.

Damp-spray insulation is relatively inexpensive and offers excellent air-sealing qualities. Nevertheless, some builders have reservations about using spray-applied products because construction can't proceed until the insulation has had time to dry out — which, in humid weather, can take days. Spider, Johns Manville's newest insulation product, was designed to eliminate this problem. The spray-applied fiberglass is held in place with what the company calls a "nonhazardous" adhesive. According to Johns Manville, a typical whole-house installation with Spider takes two or three hours and the walls can be ready for sheetrock in another two to eight (depending on the ambient humidity). The insulation delivers R-15 in a 2x4 wall and R-23 in a 2x6 wall. Pricing, the company says, is competitive with other spray-applied insulation. Johns Manville, 800/654-3103,

Band Joist Batts.

Insulating the band joist is one of those important jobs nobody likes to deal with, so anything that makes the process faster and easier deserves a look. SpeedyR Bandit fiberglass insulation from CertainTeed is made specifically for this troublesome task. Since the 50-inch batts are perforated every 121/2 inches, they can be installed between joists without cutting. The manufacturer says the batts work with both sawn-lumber joists and I-joists. They come in R-13 and R-19 thicknesses and sell for about 12 percent more than CertainTeed's standard unfaced insulation. CertainTeed, 800/233-8990,

Better Baffle.

Have you ever noticed how blown-fiberglass and cellulose insulation sometimes ends up pushed away from the eaves? Known as wind-washing, this phenomenon — the result of wind coming in through the home's soffit vents — reduces a home's thermal performance and leads to water stains and wet spots where humid air condenses on cold surfaces. You can prevent or reduce the effects of wind-washing with a new insulation baffle from Brentwood Industries. Whereas most baffles attach to only the underside of roof sheathing, the AccuVent attaches to the top plate as well, which means wind is directed up and over the insulation. The maker says the baffle stays in place with six staples. It costs about 65 cents. Brentwood Industries, 877/739-9193,

Wire-Ready Railing.

Increasingly, backyard decks are serving as the backdrop for sophisticated music and lighting systems. One of the biggest challenges in these installations is hiding the wire — and ChoiceDek's Decorative Railing System provides an ingenious solution. The railings' internal raceways accommodate horizontal wire, while hollow posts simplify vertical transitions and post-top light installation. According to the manufacturer, the composite material — a blend of wood fibers and polyethylene plastics — is paintable and cuts, machines, and fastens just like wood. Balusters come in both square and turned styles. Plowed, 12-foot lengths of the top and bottom rails sell for $25 to $30 each; balusters run about $2 each. ChoiceDek, 800/951-5117,