Watertight protection for critical installations comes home

Here's an innovative solution to preventing damage due to storm surge: a floodgate! Originally designed for use in critical installations such as hospitals, banks, hotels, and parking garages, floodgates such as those available from Presray Corp. have been installed at the openings of gated communities and residential compounds to provide "extreme duty" watertight protection. The bottom-hinged FB55 gate is designed to store below steel or aluminum diamond-plate panels and can be raised manually or with an automatic hydraulic system. The gate's rubber gaskets automatically inflate with compressed air, sealing against water.

For more information, contact Presray Corp., 159 Charles Colman Blvd., Pawling, NY 12564-1193; 845-855-1220; fpp.presray.com

Trex Weathers the Storm

Discounts and rebates offered to hard-hit hurricane regions

Known for its durable performance and longevity in coastal climates, Trex decking has a 12-year track record in marine environments and increasingly is the product of choice for community boardwalks, marinas, and docks from Maine to Grand Cayman. After Hurricane Opal destroyed several marinas in Panama City Beach in 1995, the owner of the Treasure Island Marina reported that his Trex docks remained intact while nearby wooden structures were leveled. Marina employees reported that the fasteners on the wood structures had come loose in the moisture cycle before the storm, which may have caused them to break apart. According to the manufacturer, Trex tends to hold fasteners tighter, does not shrink, and has no wood grain that would cause it to shear in high winds.

Following the most recent spate of hurricanes, Trex is currently reaching out to hard-hit Florida dock and boardwalk contractors by offering a substantial discount on its Trex 2x6 for an unlimited time on any rebuild project of marina docks, boat slips, bulkheads, and boardwalks damaged during the 2004 storm season. In other storm-hit regions, some Trex distributors are offering rebates to dock and boardwalk contractors.

For more information on the 2x6 offer for hard-hit hurricane areas, call 800-289-8739 or visit www.trex.com

Smart Vapor Retarder

High-tech solution gets kudos in wet climates

CertainTeed Corporation recently introduced to U.S. markets a high-tech vapor retarder that allows excess moisture to escape from wall cavities. Called MemBrain, this "smart" vapor retarder is a polyamide film that changes permeability from less than 1 perm at low humidity (such as during winter) to greater than 20 perms at 50% to 60% relative humidity. MemBrain reacts to relative humidity increases by altering pore size, allowing water vapor to pass through it.

The nylon-based material was introduced seven years ago in Europe, where it has become widely accepted as the leading choice in vapor retarders. It is intended for use as a replacement for conventional polyethylene vapor retarders over insulation in heating climates with seasonal changes, and it is safe to use in climates where a vapor retarder is not usually recomended, such as in areas in which both heating and cooling are needed. The membrane reportedly allows moisture that might condense in the wall cavity to dry before it leads to moisture problems, mold growth, or rot. According to the manufacturer, a 2-mil sheet of the material has equivalent strength of a 6-mil sheet of polyethylene.

For more information, contact CertainTeed Corporation, P.O. Box 860, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0105; 800-233-8990; www.certainteed.com

High-Performance Patio Doors

Closing the door on wind-blown weather

Sliding patio doors have long been considered one of the most vulnerable parts of a house in the face of torrential, wind-blown rain, but that view might be changing. Therma-Tru Doors offers two lines of patio door systems that meet Florida building codes — the toughest in the nation — to withstand high winds and water penetration. Several configurations of Therma-Tru Patio Systems, including the Slim-Line and SPD sliding patio doors, have achieved design pressure ratings of 50 psf. According to the manufacturer, this assures the door structure can withstand wind forces up to 171 mph. In addition, the weatherstripping has been designed to withstand water penetration caused by 8-inch-per-hour downpours driven by 54-mph winds. The Slim-Line door system is backed by a 20-year limited warranty.

For more information, contact Therma-Tru Doors, 1687 Woodlands Dr., Maumee, OH 43537; 800-843-7628; www.thermatru.com

Sure Finish

Translucent stain protects seaside shingles

According to North Carolina painting contractor Barrett Johnson, clients are often drawn to the natural look of cedar shingles, but complain as soon as the bright new look fades. No clear finish will hold up more than a year in the intense sun, claims Johnson. Clear coatings allow the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight to break down the outermost layer of cells in the wood siding. With the addition of rain and humidity, mildew begins growing on the surface, which further breaks down the bond between the wood and finish.

The best alternative for a natural-looking coastal cedar exterior is a translucent oil-based stain that can stand up to the abuse of sun and rain, Johnson notes. He recommends two coats of Sikkens' Cetol 1, followed by a coat of Cetol 23 Plus. The stain goes on like a varnish, with a surface buildup 30 to 35 microns thick, and will hold up for about three years to extreme seaside exposure, Johnson reports.

The Sikkens coatings aren't absolutely clear, but have a synthetic iron-oxide pigment that reflects UV light so it won't penetrate the coating. The pigment turns natural cedar shingle to the reddish brown of an unfinished mahogany.

For more information, contact Sikkens, 800-833-7288; www.nam.sikkens.com

See-Through Deck Balusters

Balconies and decks get a better view

ClearView glass deck railing balusters are designed to maximize the view on decks and balconies. Made of 5/16-inch tempered glass, the 4-inch-wide beveled glass balusters have safety edges and come with a universal stair angle that allows the products to be installed on deck stair rails without customizing. According to the manufacturer, the tempered-glass balusters are stronger than many code-approved wood balusters, and the noncorrosive glass makes them ideal for humid and salt-air environments. They are available through the company's network of more than 1,500 independent lumberyards and dealers, as well as from Lowe's home improvement centers.

For more information, contact DecKorators, 800-332-5724; www.deckorators.com

Eye on the Sky

Laminated glass defies wind-blown debris

High winds in hurricanes and tropical storms can transform even ordinary objects into glass-smashing missiles, so in coastal areas it’s important to use impact-resistant glass to protect both the house and its occupants. Since Hurricane Andrew blew through in 1992, safety officials in coastal areas have been adopting tougher codes for exterior openings. Velux’s Impact FCM skylight meets current wind-borne debris protection requirements in the IBC, the IRC, and the 2001 Florida Building Code (Miami-Dade Protocols excluded). Laminated, low-e2, argon gas-filled glass reduces heat gain, fading, and condensation, and a pre-applied inner gasket seals out moisture and drafts. The manufacturer recommends the skylight for new construction and as a replacement for plastic bubble skylights. The curb-mounted design can be used with a wide variety of flashing and roofing materials. A 22x46-inch Impact FCM with a step flashing kit sells for about $300.

For more information, contact Velux; 800-888-3589; www.velux-america.com

Reflections on Roofing

Keep cool with this coat

Sales of residential metal roofing have more than doubled in the last five years, partly because the product stands up so well to adverse weather conditions, and resists the growth of moss, mold, and fungus. Unfortunately, few building materials get as hot as a metal roof under a sunny sky, but now you can beat the heat with a new reflective coating. BASF’s Ultra-Cool Coating increases the reflectivity of metal roofing by about 13%, reducing cooling costs and attic temperatures. Custom-Bilt Metals, one of several manufacturers using the new coating, offers it in up to 25 colors on its Last Time line of metal roofing. According to Custom-Bilt, the coating’s increased reflectivity also reduces panel expansion and contraction, extending the longevity of the roof. The best part is that Ultra-Cool costs the same as conventional painted metal roofing.

For more information, contact Custom-Bilt Metals; 800-826-7813; www.custombiltmetals.com

Mold-Resistant Coating

Help surfaces for flooded or water-soaked structures

While the most reliable way to prevent mold and mildew in homes is to prevent water leaks, there is help for homes that have been flooded or inundated with water. Once flooding or storm-related water damage soaks into walls and wall cavities, mold can grow within 24 to 48 hours. The solution, according to the makers of Foster 40-20 antimicrobial coating, is three-fold: Clean, kill, and coat. Begin by opening and thoroughly drying affected areas, then sanitize the surfaces with bleach and TSP (or another EPA-registered disinfectant/cleaner). Finally, apply a tested, mold-resistant surface coating such as Foster 40-20 to ensure long-term protection against future mold and mildew growth.

Foster 40-20 is designed to coat lined or unlined HVAC ductwork and interior building surfaces that are prone to mold, fungi, or bacterial growth, and it provides a washable coating for surfaces that offers protection against organic growth for up to five years. According to the manufacturer, Foster 40-20 provides a tough elastic coating that resists abrasion, tearing, and punctures. The water-based product cleans up easily and is no more hazardous to use indoors than common household acrylic paint; in fact, the manufacturer claims the odor is similar to an acrylic household paint, and is only objectionable if the odor is allowed to build up in a poorly ventilated area.

For more information, contact Foster Products (H.B. Fuller Co., Foster Specialty Construction Brands, Suite C7, 601 West Campus Dr., Arlington Heights, IL 60004; 800-231-9541; www.fosterproducts.com.

Tough Landscape Lighting

Bright news for outdoor illumination at the coast

The combination of salt spray and harsh sunlight packs a double punch for coastal exterior lighting. Ordinarily, bulb sockets and electrical connections corrode quickly in such extreme conditions, driving many contractors toward commercial-grade exterior fixtures. Allscape's SL-43 landscape lighting, for example, has a housing constructed of a rugged, impact-resistant composite material that is structurally reinforced with glass fibers for a long, corrosion-free operating life in wet locations, even when buried in the dunes or embedded in a concrete pour (Allscape, 2930 South Fairview, Santa Ana, CA 92704; 714-668-3660, or 800-854-9277 outside CA; www.alllighting.com OceanSide Coastal Lighting (P.O. Box 151, Barberton, OH 44203; 800-989-4101; www.oceansidelighting.com also makes a line of corrosion-proof exterior fixtures. And outdoor fixtures from Sea Gull Lighting (301 West Washington St., Riverside NJ 08075; 800-347-5483, www.seagulllighting.com feature injection-molded polycarbonate sockets with corrosion-resistant contacts.