Chimney Vac. Cleaning out a fireplace or wood stove is a lot easier with a Cougar Ash Vacuum. Unlike a conventional shop vac or fireplace tools, the fire-resistant Cougar won’t spread fine particles throughout the room. The steel canister has a 5-foot hose, a two-part filter with an external shaker, and a carrying handle. It costs $260. Love-Less Ash Co., 800/568-3949, loveless ash.com.
Bay-Front Wood Burner. One of the largest manufactured fireplaces on the market, the Delta 2 from RSF has a bay-window front that makes the fire visible from almost any angle. The unit accepts logs of up to 24 inches and can be connected to the ductwork of a forced-air heating system. The suggested selling price ranges from $3,600 to $4,500, depending on finish and extras. RSF Chimney, 450/565-6336, icc-rsf.com.
Porch Planks. Looking for an alternative to wood porch flooring? Check out Azek Porch. Made from cellular PVC in two colors — brownstone and slate gray — the T&G 1x4 planks don’t require predrilling and won’t rot or support mold, says the maker. They cost about $5.50 per linear foot. Azek, 877/275-2935, azek.com.
Wood Look. Fiberon’s Sanctuary Decking looks a lot like real wood. The 1-inch-thick by 51/2- inch-wide cellular PVC boards have graining on both sides and are grooved for use with hidden fasteners. They come in 12-, 16-, and 20-foot lengths in ipe and driftwood patterns. Square edge boards are also available (20-foot lengths only). The product costs about twice as much as pressure-treated decking. Fiber Composites, 704/463-7120, fiberondecking .com.
Green Brick. Acme Brick says its new King Size brick weighs about 1/3 pound less than conventional king-size bricks and requires less energy to manufacture — all because the company increased core-hole size from 25 percent to 33 percent of total volume. The new format should reduce transportation costs and boost green appeal. Costs run about $400 per 1,000 bricks. Acme Brick, 817/332-4101, brick.com.
Quick Dry. Rain in the forecast? You still might be able to paint, provided you’re using Sherwin-Williams’ Resilience exterior latex paint. The maker says its “moisture guard” formula dries in half the time required by most exterior paints. The product is compatible with wood, steel, masonry, vinyl, and stucco substrates. A gallon sells for approximately $50. Sherwin-Williams, 800/474-3794, sherwin.com.
Single Serving. I tried GE’s new Caulk Singles shortly after their introduction. The 11/4-ounce packages were easy to open and offered excellent control. Plus they’re the perfect size for a small project. Available in paintable white latex and in clear and white silicone, they cost $2.50 apiece. GE, 877/943-7325, caulksingles.com.
Stowaway. If your clients want a central vac system but have neither the space nor the budget, tell them about the Vroom Solo. This self-contained vacuum — which mounts in a base cabinet — has a self-retracting 24-foot hose and sells for $350. The Vroom Central (not shown) is similar but connects to an existing central vac; it costs $250. HP Products, 800/822-8356, vroomyourroom.com.