I know a lot of quality-conscious builders and
environmentalists don't think much of vinyl siding, but it's
now the number one siding choice in the U.S. — not
everyone can afford cedar or stone. Even fans of vinyl siding
concede that its color palette has always looked a little pale
and boring, however. LP's newly introduced Norman Rockwell
Siding Collection has the most vibrant colors I've seen in
vinyl. Deep reds, browns, and greens dominate the choices, and
the manufacturer guarantees they won't wash out in the sun. The
company backs up the claim with a 25-year warranty against
fading. Norman Rockwell siding costs about $100 per
Marvin's Integrity line has enjoyed a lot of success with
builders and homeowners alike, but the one product missing from
the catalog has been a French door with two operating panels.
However, the company recently launched a complete line of
Inswing French Doors in 6/5, 6/8, and 8/0 heights. The new
doors feature a multipoint lock, rot-free Ultrex frame and
sill, and adjustable hinges. Available builder-friendly options
include factory-applied extension jambs, mulled transoms, and a
prefinished white interior.
It turns out that Dow's Great Stuff Pro not only works for air
sealing and filling cracks, it's also an effective
fire-blocking material. Fire blocking is meant to reduce flame
spread during a fire, and it's of increasing interest to local
inspectors. In January of this year the company passed testing
by the ICC Evaluation Service, approving Great Stuff Pro for
sealing around pipes and other penetrations specifically to
stop flames from getting through. While the ingredients and
formulation remain the same, Dow changed the foam's color from
yellow to orange, so inspectors know it's an approved material.
It should cost about $10 per can.
outside corners with two pieces of wood or fiber cement is
slowing you down, you might try the one-piece wood composite
PermaChoice Corner Post. The PermaChoice corner has a
13/16-inch channel that hides the cut end and provides plenty
of room for seasonal expansion, so you don't have to butt the
siding to a board and caulk the joint. An integral nailing fin
reduces the possibility of errant hammer blows marring the
surface. You can use this product with a variety of siding
materials, including wood, vinyl, fiber cement, and hardboard.
It's available in 10- and 20-foot lengths and sells for about
$3 per linear foot. The company also offers J-channel, 4-inch
window and door trim, and inside corners in the same preprimed
Crane Products, 888/923-8799,
pediments and other interesting trim details on stucco, EIFS,
and brick can be as easy as gluing Canamould's Exterior
Moldings and Trim to the surface. The components use a
dimensionally stable expanded polystyrene core and a
fiberglass-reinforced coating similar to synthetic stucco. The
manufacturer suggests coating the back with a
polystyrene-suitable adhesive and temporarily holding the trim
in place with a couple of tapcons or masonry nails while the
glue sets up. The pieces are offered in prefinished and
unfinished versions. According to the maker, unfinished pieces
can be painted with any acrylic latex paint or acrylic sprayed
coating. Unfinished 3-foot pediments start at $45.
Making curved trim
for tower rooms, doors and windows, and wraparound porches can
be a pain, and accurately estimating the time it takes to make
this stuff can mean the difference between going on vacation
with the family and going broke. If you don't have the time or
equipment to efficiently make your own curved moldings and
millwork, you might contact B.H. Davis Company. This Radius
Millwork Specialist can make just about any curved trim you can
imagine and some you can't. The company has a huge selection of
stock knives and makes custom profiles, as well. Check out the
website to learn an easy way to make accurate templates, see
stock profiles, and view examples of the work.
B.H. Davis Company, 860/923-2771,
Oil and Water.
heaters are generally thought of as old-school technology, but
the Oil Miser Water Heaters from Toyotomi are the exception.
These on-demand heaters feature electronic ignition,
sealed-combustion burners, and 88% efficiency ratings. The
units can provide up to 4 gallons of hot water per minute and
can be direct or chimney vented. A 120-volt AC power supply is
required for the igniter and venting system. The manufacturer
claims that some users report a 70% reduction in their water
heating costs. Prices range from $1,300 to $1,500.
In many cases,
installing an on-demand water heater makes a lot of sense. The
wall-mounted ones take up no floor space, and you don't have to
pay to maintain 30 or 40 gallons of hot water when you're not
using it. While on-demand heaters commonly use propane or
natural gas, Eemax makes a line of electric-powered
instantaneous water heaters. The company offers small
point-of-use heaters and large whole-house versions that can
maintain a constant 4 gpm. In the middle is the Series Two.
Providing up to 3 gpm, this heater is designed to meet the
needs of small single-family homes and condos. According to the
manufacturer, this and all Eemax heaters will maintain the
water temperature to within 1/2 degree. The Series Two heaters
start at $400 and require two 40-amp breakers.
Cure for Common Flue.
customer's masonry chimney has seen better days, or you're
trying to save space and installation costs in a new home, you
might consider a direct-vent water heater like A.O. Smith's
PowerHouse Sealed Shot. The PowerHouse uses 3-inch PVC, ABS, or
CVPC pipe run right through the sidewall instead of a masonry
or B-vent flue exiting the roof. This model also brings in
outside combustion air. It's offered in 40- to 75-gallon sizes
with corresponding input ratings from 40,000 to 70,000 Btus per
hour. They cost about 10% to 20% more than a conventional,
atmospherically vented water heater, but the significant cost
of the flue is eliminated.
A.O. Smith, 800/527-1953,
Last year, a
new ANSI standard took effect that aims to prevent gas water
heaters from igniting combustible vapors. Products like the
Rheem Guardian are the industry's answer to the property damage
and loss of life that occur as a result of such ignition. The
secrets to the new technology are a one-way intake air system,
a sealed burner and access door, and a flame arrestor that cuts
off oxygen and prevents flame spread in the event of a fire.
There are two side benefits to the new regulations: Depending
on local code, you might be able to eliminate the water heater
stand; and the sealed burners require a push-button igniter for
the pilot, so it should be easier to light.
building exteriors is a great way to get color on fast, but
having to mask windows and doors slows you down. To pick up the
pace, you might try Filmtech's Window Films and Trim Tape. The
film is offered in 30-day and 12-month formulas, and the tape
is UV resistant for 30 days. According to the manufacturer,
both film and tape are easy to apply, and they won't leave a
residue when removed. The 30-day window film sells for about
3¢ to 4¢ per square foot; a 60-yard roll of the
2-inch tape sells for $5 to $7.
Legions of remodelers
rely on the Zipwall dust containment system to protect their
clients' home while they work. Recently, the company added two
accessories to improve the system's dust-containment
performance. The 5-foot Foam Rail conforms to textured ceilings
or other surface irregularities and mounts on standard Zipwall
poles. It holds the plastic tight to the ceiling and sets up
fast. When the Side Clamp is combined with a Foam Rail, it
holds the plastic against adjacent walls without tape. The
suggested contractor price is $70 for a pair of Foam Rails and
$40 for a pair of Side Clamps.
Keep Out of a Jamb.
jambs and drywall openings are always at risk. One careless
worker with a stepladder can ruin a finished opening with a
single swipe, but protecting this area is easy with Traffic
Jambs. Similar to a tube form, they slip over the finished
opening and provide a durable surface that can take a hit
without creating more work for you. Traffic Jambs are offered
in 6- and 8-inch sizes, and the maker claims the larger size
can slip over standard-width jambs with the door in place. A
6-inch three-piece set that includes a 24-inch tube for the
head jamb and two 5-foot sides sells for $20.
Traffic Jambs, 360/772-0065,
A Better Drop Cloth.
cloths are expensive and seem to grow legs shortly after
arriving on the job site. Plastic sheeting is cheaper, but it's
also slippery and doesn't absorb spills. If you're looking for
a better way to protect surfaces, the SurfacePro Breathable
Drop Cloth deserves consideration. The recycled-fiber mat has a
perforated, skid-resistant back to keep it in position while it
gives new flooring or other materials a chance to dry.
According to the maker, the thicker construction provides
unsurpassed impact protection and helps keep the cloth in place
without tape. Available in a 40-inch by 82-foot roll, it sells
for $116 (freight included in the lower 48).
KS International, 888/578-5573,
Protective Plastic Panels.
Promising greater utility, lighter weight, and lower cost than
plywood or Masonite, Cordek corrugated polypropylene is perfect
for protecting surfaces, from flooring to windows. The
translucent sheets won't absorb water or warp, and a 4x8-foot
sheet weighs only about 2 1/2 pounds. The product also folds
easily and cuts with a utility knife, but the best part is that
the reusable product costs only about $6 per sheet.