Download PDF version (303.8k) Log In or Register to view the full article as a PDF document.

Get Your Fill. Although spray-foam insulation is generally used when the wall-board or plaster has been stripped from the framing, it can be applied under other conditions, too. Icynene's Pour Fill insulation, for instance, is injected into the stud cavity through 1-inch holes; the material expands to 60 times its original size, giving a 2x4 wall an R-value of 14. Unlike cellulose and other blow-in products, Pour Fill doesn't settle over time. Icynene, 800/758-7325,

Kraft-Faced Friction Fit. Can't decide whether to use faced or unfaced insulation? Try CertainTeed's Speedy Tabless Batts, which offer both friction-fit installation (no stapling) and a kraft vapor retarder. They come in 16-inch widths in R-13, R-19, and R-21 versions and cost about the same as conventional kraft-faced batts, says the maker. CertainTeed, 800/233-8990,

Thickset. At R-49, Guardian's 15-inch-thick Fatt Batt has the highest R-value of any fiberglass batt on the market. Sold in both kraft and unfaced versions, the product allows builders to meet higher Department of Energy insulation recommendations with a single layer of fiberglass and no additional labor. Guardian, 800/569-4262,


Hang in There. For clients with minimal space to spare for a mechanical room, a wall-mounted boiler like Lochinvar's Knight can be just the ticket. Energy Star-rated, the condensing, modulating boilers come in five models with efficiencies ranging from 93 percent to 95 percent. Vent runs can reach 100 feet (equivalent) with 3-inch plastic pipe. Lochinvar, 615/889-8900,

Keep Your Cool. I'm a big fan of split air-conditioning and heat-pump systems like the Mr. Slim for room additions and retrofits: They're easy to install, allow effective zoning, and eliminate ductwork. M-series models (shown) come in sizes from 9,000 Btu to 24,000 Btu and in SEER ratings of 13 to 17. Prices start at $1,500 plus installation. Mitsubishi Electric, 800/433-4822,

On Demand. Remote-mounted fans are often used to ventilate several spaces at once — but multiple wide-open intake grilles require a large fan that uses a lot of energy and creates a lot of noise. American Aldes has an ingenious solution: intake grilles with electric dampers. The company's VentZone Systems use a 200-cfm fan that can vent as many as eight bathrooms; the intake dampers can be controlled with a switch, timer, humidistat, CO2 sensor, or occupancy sensor. American Aldes, 941/351-3441,


Extra Protection. With Master Lock's NightWatch deadbolt, homeowners don't have to worry about intruders even when their house keys have been stolen or lost: The bolt can be secured from inside the house in such a way that outside keys won't work. The maker claims the product fits any standard residential door. Available in two finishes — satin nickel and bright brass — it costs about $30. Master Lock, 800/308-9244,

Matching Levers. When it comes to factory patio-door hardware, your clients' options can seem pretty limited. Even if they find something they like, it probably won't match the other knobs in their home. However, Emtek makes dozens of lever sets in several finishes to fit most popular patio-door models — and they coordinate with the rest of the company's product line. The Elan model shown costs about $140. Emtek, 800/356-2741,

Print Reader. It's not just science fiction anymore: Kwikset's fingerprint-actuated SmartScan deadbolt can be programmed to recognize up to 50 people and — since it reads subdermal prints — won't be fazed by dirty, cut, or worn-down fingertips. A timed lockout feature with three levels of access (24-hour, temporary, and restricted) provides additional security. The device comes in several finishes; prices start at around $200. Kwikset, 800/327-5625,