Soffit & Fascia
Holy Bookcase, Batman!
comes from afternoons spent watching the Caped Crusader enter
the Bat Cave through a secret passage, but I think this is one
of the coolest products I've ever seen. The SpaceXDoor looks
like an ordinary bookcase, but it's actually a bifolding closet
door with special hardware. Made from MDF, it can be left
natural or veneered in just about any wood species. According
to the manufacturer, the door can hold up to 300 pounds of
books and they won't fall off when it's operated. I saw it at
this year's Builders' Show. It looks well made, and the
hardware looks sturdy enough for the job. It's available in
widths from 48 to 76 inches in 83- and 96-inch heights. The
maple-veneered version shown has a list price of $2,300.
Better Ledger Connection.
Attaching a porch or deck ledgers to a building is one
connection that you simply can't mess up. FastenMaster, maker
of TrapEase deck screws and TimberLok long-length wood screws
has introduced LedgerLok, a coated, structural screw designed
exclusively for attaching deck ledgers. The new screw is
self-drilling and uses a hex head with an integral washer to
prevent stripping. According to the manufacturer, the
1/4-inch-diameter screws have greater shear strength than
1/2-inch lag screws, and the proprietary coating is compatible
with the more corrosive ACQ and copper azole pressure-treating
formulas. A 50-count box of 3 5/8-inch LedgerLok screws sells
for $24; the 5-inch size sells for $28.
Oldie but Goodie.
"period-inspired" or reproduction hardware won't work for your
customer's restoration project, you can get authentic period
pieces from Ed Donaldson Hardware Restorations. The small
company refurbishes antique doorknobs, sash lifts, hinges, and
other common types of builder's hardware. Some of the stuff is
one of a kind, but more common pieces like Antique Rim Locks
and Hinges can usually be found in sufficient quantities for a
small addition or restoration. The cast-iron rim lock shown is
from the mid to late 19th century and sells for $75.
Ed Donaldson Hardware Restorations,
Adding a little
fresh air to a forced-air heating system is a relatively easy
and inexpensive way to prevent indoor air problems in today's
tighter homes. Products like Aprilaire's Ventilation Control
System use an electronic damper and adjustable timer to bring
fresh outside air into the return-air duct. Easier to install
and less expensive than a heat-recovery ventilator, the 6-inch
damper can be programmed to open from 1 to 60 minutes every 1
to 4 hours. According to the manufacturer, the controller will
keep the damper closed if temperatures are below 0°F or
above 100°F or if humid outdoor air could bring interior
humidity levels above 60%. Installed prices run about $250 to
Water Heater Safety Valve.
water heaters cause millions of dollars in damage every year.
Even though drip pans can prevent most water damage, they don't
ensure the safety of your client, because the leaking water
could extinguish the pilot or the burner could be heating a
nearly empty tank. Installing a WAGS Valve (Water and Gas
Safety Valve) could prevent such an accident. The device uses a
water soluble disk that keeps the valve open during normal
operation, but when a leak fills the drip pan to 3/4 inch, it
dissolves, closing the water supply and gas valves. Once it's
activated, a little red flag alerts the homeowner that there's
a problem. The device can also be used with non-gas heaters.
Installed prices should run about $350.
Hot Water Management.
heating systems continue to grow in popularity, but balancing a
new system can be a struggle, especially when in-floor loops
are combined with other types of hydronic heating. You can make
the balancing process easier with a TruFLOW Manifold System
from Wirsbo. The solid brass manifold is adjustable for both
temperature and flow and can handle up to 12 loops. The device
also makes installations faster, and it looks less intimidating
to tech-weary homeowners.
While it makes sense to
leave the heat or air conditioning turned down in most vacation
homes, it can take a day or more to make the house comfortable
again. If a day spent shivering isn't compatible with your
customer's idea of a relaxing weekend, you could suggest the
Telephone Access Module and T8635L Communicating Thermostat
from Honeywell. With the two components, customers can call
their thermostat and change the temperature over the phone. The
slick device will also call out to three preprogrammed numbers
if there's a heating failure or prolonged power interruption.
According to the manufacturer, the system is easy to program,
doesn't require third-party monitoring, and works with most
heating and cooling equipment.
Time-Saving Vented Trim.
perfectly functional, round aluminum and strip soffit vents
aren't the best-looking exterior detail. If you or your
customer is seeking an alternative, you might try the 404 Eave
Vent System from Style Solutions. Combining several preprimed
trim pieces and the soffit vent in the same product results in
a detail that not only looks better, but also saves a lot of
installation time. Premolded outside and inside corners are
available. The 6 3/16-inch-tall molding has a 4 7/16-inch
projection and comes in 12-foot lengths. It has a list price of
$12 per foot.
Style Solutions, Inc., 800/446-3040,
Wood Is Good but Sometimes Plastic Is
The cottage and bungalow aesthetic is
increasingly popular, but the exposed overhangs and decorative
details present a problem for wood millwork. If your client
wants to avoid annual painting and maintenance, you might
suggest Azek Beadboard. The tongue-and-groove synthetic lumber
has a V-groove on one side and an edge-and-center bead on the
other, making it perfect for reproducing period soffits, porch
ceilings, and exterior wainscot. According to the manufacturer,
the matte white finish holds paint well or can be left
unpainted. The 1/2-inch-thick by 6-inch-wide boards are
available in 18-foot lengths. The 1x6x18-foot boards sell for
Fans of fiber-cement
siding often tout its low cost, durability, and excellent paint
adhesion. It's those same qualities that make fiber cement an
excellent soffit material. Vented and Non-Vented Soffit Panels
from James Hardie are offered in smooth and textured finishes.
What's great is they're precut in 12- and 16-inch widths, and
the 12-foot length means fewer seams. The 1/4-inch-thick panels
are preprimed and have a 25-year transferable warranty. At a
local yard (in northern Vermont), I was quoted about $11 per
piece for 20 pieces of smooth non-vented in the 12-inch
James Hardie, 888/542-7343,
Covert Soffit Ventilation.
most vented vinyl soffit that uses exposed holes or slots,
Napco's UltraSpan uses hidden ventilation slots. The slots are
tucked into the soffit's center groove, and, according to the
manufacturer, the hidden location not only looks more
attractive, it's also more effective at resisting wind-driven
rain. The manufacturer claims that the .046-inch-thick panels
are better at spanning longer distances like porch ceilings
without sagging. They're available in 14 colors at about $75 to
$85 per square.