Drainable membrane aims at "barrier," not "breathable," protection from moisture

Delta-Dry takes a "barrier" approach to keeping walls dry that looks promising, in part because of the high-level product testing the manufacturer has sought in North America. The concept behind this impermeable, molded-polyethylene weather barrier is that the bumps and channels in its surface create a drain cavity, which dissipates moisture that might accumulate on either side of it. Thus, it provides a drainage plane behind any exterior cladding, and it allows an escape path for water that might condense on the wall side. In theory, it's a compelling product: an impermeable membrane will have a higher water holdout capacity and resist solar-driven moisture far better than any permeable product. But it's still unclear to us how well the product will perform in the real world. All the testing reports — some of it by top-rated building scientists in the U.S. and Canada — urge that the edges must remain open to allow moisture to escape. But if edges remain open to provide sufficient ventilation behind the membrane, isn't there an increased chance of wind-driven rain getting in? Clearly, the product's success will depend on the care taken with installation. While that's true of any water-resistive barrier, this one definitely bears further scrutiny. For more information, contact Cosella-Drken Products, 888-433-5824; www.delta-dry.com.

Strong Hold

Ring-shank air nails help resist uplift and shear

Wood-frame construction typically fails under wind loads at fastening points, most often by a nail shank pulling out or material pulling out around the nail head. The Stanley-Bostitch HurriQuake nail is a 21-inch plastic-collated air nail designed to resist these common wind failures. According to the manufacturer, the nail's aggressive ring geometry combined with a nearly 25% larger head provide enough uplift resistance to withstand hurricane winds up to 170 mph. The head of each nail is marked with either an "HQ1" or "HQ2" for easy identification during inspections. In addition, the nails are packaged in a stiffer plastic collation strip that reportedly breaks away more effectively as the nail is driven, reducing "flagging" — and thus helping to prevent squeaky floors that result from flagging caught between the sheathing and hardwood flooring. (You'll still have to make sure the nails are not underdriven, and that the joists are stout enough to resist deflection — the primary causes of squeaky floors.) For more information, contact Stanley Fastening Systems, 800-556-6696; www.bostitch.com.

High-Performance Hips

Shadow line on hip matches field shingles of wind-rated roofing

Atlas Roofing has introduced StormMaster Pro-Cut Hip & Ridge shingles: pretrimmed hip and ridge shingles that complement its line of StormMaster shingles. The cap shingles eliminate much of the hand trimming associated with hip and ridge caps, minimizing waste and also providing shadow lines along hips and ridges to match the field shingles — a look that is ordinarily not available when cutting caps from single-ply shingles on a roof with architectural-grade laminated field shingles. Like the rest of the shingles in the StormMaster line, the wind performance comes from the addition of an aggressive sealant strip that keeps the shingles down in high winds, in combination with the SBS-modified asphalt in which the fiberglass mat is sandwiched. The SBS emulsion is a flexible, rubberlike material that is less likely to tear if the tabs are lifted in a windstorm. For more information, contact Atlas Roofing Corporation, 770-952-1442; www.atlasroofing.com.

Leakproof Liner

Prefab pan speeds tile prep and provides peace of mind from leaks

Tile Redi shower pan modules replace copper and vinyl shower liners, vastly simplifying the job of installing a tiled shower. The pre-sloped polymer pan, which the manufacture says carries a lifetime warranty against leaks, provides a continuous 1/4-inch slope for drainage without puddles, and integral ribs underneath the pan eliminate the need for building up a mortar bed. Tile Redi units can be used with PVC, ABS, or metal drains. Once in place, tile can be installed directly to the visible part of the liner, including over the preformed curb. For more information, contact Tile Redi, 800-232-6156; www.tileredi.com.

Denailing Gun

Pneumatic power for demolishing wood-frame construction

The unprecedented amount of demolition and salvage work in Mississippi and Louisiana could get kicked forward by the Nail Kicker. This tool, which retails for about $250, resembles a pneumatic nailer but works in reverse: the sleeve of the tool is designed to slip over the pointed end of a nail, and a stout driver in the sleeve "kicks" the nail out of the wood. This action requires that the framing already be knocked apart and the old nails exposed, but Hurricane Katrina, followed by bulldozers, has already helped that along. According to the manufacturer, the Nail Kicker packs enough punch to dislodge spikes up to 20d in size. The tool kicks the nail out about 2 inches with each blow, so multiple blows may be needed for long nails. For more information, contact Reconnx, Inc., 888-447-3873; www.nailkicker.com.

The Next Cordless Revolution

Toolmakers embrace lithium-ion battery technology

Lithium-ion cordless is catching on in the tool market. Milwaukee was the first to offer a line of tools powered with longer-running lithium-ion batteries, followed quickly by Makita and DeWalt, with Hitachi becoming the latest contender. Lithium-ion cells are considerably lighter than nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride cells, a feature which manufacturers have exploited in various ways. Milwaukee and DeWalt used the lighter cells to stuff more in a battery pack to increase voltage. Milwaukee's first tool offering was a 28-volt tool line, while DeWalt served up a 36-volt line. All these tools pack enough power for high-draw applications, such as recip saws with longer strokes, circular saws with greater cutting capacity, and drill/drivers capable of powering a large-diameter hole saw.

Makita, Hitachi, and (once again) Milwaukee have applied the new technology to enhance their 18-volt lines, reducing the overall weight of the tools while increasing run time. Other advantages claimed by the manufacturers include increased battery life: the new batteries can reportedly be charged and discharged two to three times more often.

For more information on any of the lithium-ion cordless tools, contact DeWalt, 800-433-9258, www.dewalt.com; Hitachi, 800-829-4752, www.hitachipowertools.com; Milwaukee, 800-729-3878, www.milwaukeetool.com; and Makita, 800-462-5482, www.makita.com.

Cedar Look-Alike

Interlocking panels speed installation

Nailite's polypropylene siding panels simulate the look and feel of cedar shingles. RoughSawn Cedar EZ panels use an injection molding process that creates a detailed texture that matches cedar. In the weathered Cape Cod Perfection EZ and Perfection Plus Cedar versions (which tend to be best suited for the coastal vernacular), it's hard to tell the difference from real cedar when standing a few feet back. The panels interlock, making installations easier and faster, says Nailite's director of marketing Angel Toter. The interlocking system automatically spaces each panel to allow for expansion and contraction, which is similar (or only slightly greater) than PVC. For keeping the panels in place, make sure that a minimum of eight nails are installed along the nailing hem of the 36- to 43-inch panels, as per the manufacturer's directions. We believe it's a good idea to use ring-shank nails with these or any vinyl siding, as well. For more information, contact Nailite, 888-300-0070; www.nailite.com.

Modern Metal

Copper, zinc, and stainless steel garage doors

Designer Doors offers metal-clad wood garage doors that provide a contemporary look as well as opening protection in high-wind zones. Available in copper, zinc, and stainless steel, these claddings provide exceptional protection from weathering. Left uncoated, the copper and zinc will oxidize to a deep green or blue patina, respectively, while the stainless steel version maintains its bright, modern finish. The door's strength for resisting wind-borne debris comes from a concealed strut within the wooden panels of the door. Models are available to meet Miami-Dade County requirements — the toughest wind codes in the country. For more information, contact Designer Doors, 800-241-0525; www.designerdoors.com .

PVC Trim Kits

New line of finish-grade stock meets the grade for durable exteriors

Advanced TrimWright offers a complete line of cellular PVC exterior trim products. Like other cellular PVC trim materials, TrimWright provides finish-grade stock in a range of sizes that won't shrink, warp, or rot, and is unaffected by moisture or insects. ATW's line includes pre-joined corner boards, crown stock, dentil moldings, column wraps, and door trim kits with fluted side casing and pediment heads. For more information, contact Advanced TrimWright, Inc., 877-822-7745; www.advancedtrimwright.com.

New Cordless Nailer

DeWalt takes on the Impulse

DeWalt recently introduced a cordless nailer that uses an 18-volt ni-cad battery to power a mechanical flywheel system to drive nails home. The result is the DC628K1 15-gauge nailer that shoots 11/4- to 21/2-inch finish nails. It's the latest challenger to Paslode's Trimpulse nailer that first debuted about 15 years ago. Since then, only Porter-Cable has previously attempted to put up any competition against the Trimpulse. DeWalt's version comes the closest to being a contender: like the Paslode version, the DeWalt nailer has a streamlined housing with an angled magazine, and it operates like any air nailer, without, of course, being tied to a hose and compressor. (The Porter-Cable Bammer requires the operator to push the body of the tool in a few inches — an action that takes some getting used to.) DeWalt offers one significant improvement over Paslode's, however: it doesn't require fuel cells, which could amount to a considerable cost savings running the tools. DeWalt claims its nailer can fire approximately 720 21/2-inch nails per battery charge and deliver them much faster than either the Paslode or Porter-Cable tools. For more information, contact DeWalt, 800-433-9258; www.dewalt.com.