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Engineered Lumber

Cut the Fat. Looking to simplify your framing and save some money? Check out Ainsworth's 0.8E Durastrand Rimboard. Made from inexpensive oriented strand lumber, it's generally suitable for spanning openings up to 9 feet wide. According to the maker, using Durastrand Rimboard for rim joists can eliminate the need for headers above doors and windows. Ainsworth, 877/661-3200, www.ainsworth.ca

Drilling Allowed. I've heard of plumbers and framers coming to blows over holes drilled in critical structural members. Maybe Weyerhaeuser's improved TimberStrand LSL framing members will maintain the peace, because plumbers can drill holes in them. The 1 3/4- and 3 1/2-inch beams come in 9 1/2-, 11 7/8-, and 14-inch sizes; holes of up to 4 5/8 inches can be drilled in the 14-inchers. Weyerhaeuser, 888/453-8358, www.iLevel.com

Reach Higher. The Stacked Steel Strong-Wall is the first ready-made two-story shear wall ever, Simpson claims. It's suitable for two-story entries and great rooms up to 20 feet 6 inches tall. Even in seismic areas, the product can help builders and designers maintain the huge expanses of glass that some homeowners expect. Simpson Strong-Tie, 800/999-5099, www.strongtie.com


Exterior Doors

Broad Appeal. With its silver caming and stained-glass highlights over one or two raised panels, the Dorado suits a number of different architectural styles. It comes in Douglas fir, western hemlock, and red oak in 3/0, 3/2, 3/4, and 3/6 sizes. Understated without being boring, this door strikes me as a great choice for spec homes. Prices start at $1,000 (for door only). Simpson Door, 800/952-4057, www.simpsondoor.com

Plastic Frame. Maintenance-free and rotproof, PVC trim has become quite popular in harsh climates — but why stop with trim? Now you can install PVC door frames, too. Made entirely of cellular PVC, the Proframe has a UL 20-minute fire rating and won't rot, even in the harshest exposures, says the maker. It comes in single- and double-door configurations and in-swing and out-swing styles. Replacement-kit prices start at around $60. Royal Mouldings, 800/368-3117, www.royalmouldings.com

Factory Finish. Staining an exterior door on site is a hassle: The weather has to be perfect; the door is out of commission for at least a few hours; and it's nearly impossible to keep tradespeople, delivery drivers, and homeowners from marring the wet surface. So why not have the finishing done at the factory? Therma-Tru provides just that option for its Classic-Craft and Fiber-Classic doors with FinishRight. Available in five colors, the factory finish adds about $310 to the cost of a 3-foot-wide entry door. Therma-Tru, 800/843-7628, www.thermatru.com