Pneumatic Shingle Knife

The Roof Mates Air Knife — a pneumatic-powered hook knife designed to trim asphalt roofing — can simplify and reduce fatigue when making starter shingles, trimming rake edges and valleys, and creating the cutout in a shingle for plumbing boots, particularly on heavy, wind-rated laminated shingles. With a pneumatic piston that drives a 11/4-inch-deep hook blade, cutting is not super fast, but almost no effort is required to pull the pneumatic knife through two heavy laminated shingles. The tool draws only 3 cfm of air from the compressor and weighs only 2.5 pounds. A paddle trigger rotates around the body, allowing the operator to position his or her hand for any angle of attack. Care must be taken to not slice through base layers of roofing and flashings that should be kept continuous. For more information, contact Roof Mates, 866/766-3628,

Last Line of Defense

Disaster-mitigation experts are beginning to look closely at the new breed of roof underlayments hitting the market. When a major storm event rips the shingles or tiles off a home, it may be that the underlayment is the last and perhaps the strongest line of defense against a deluge of rainwater leaking into the home. Among the newest entries into this category is DuPont's RoofLiner, made with a class of copolymers, branded Elvaloy, that add strength and flexibility. According to DuPont, the underlayment suffused with these copolymers will resist blowoff better than felt, with fewer tears around fasteners. Add lightweight to durability, as well as significant resistance to heat and UV rays, and asphalt felt seems best left to the past, especially for builders in hurricane-prone regions. Like most single-ply roof liners, DuPont's is intended for use on roofs with slopes greater than 2:12, unless you plan to waterproof overlaps. RoofLiner meets the AC-188 Acceptance Criteria for Roof Underlayments, which establish requirements for recognition of roof underlayments under the ICC Evaluation Service. For more information, contact DuPont,

Cellular PVC Decking

Expanding on its well-known line of cellular PVC trim, Azek Building Products has launched a new brand of cellular PVC decking. Like Azek Trim, Azek Deck is completely impervious to weathering, mold, and rot, and it can be shaped with ordinary woodworking tools. Best of all, perhaps, the new decking reportedly resists stains, including those from wet leaves, berries, juice, wine, grease, and ketchup — all common ingredients of disaster on an outdoor deck and often the downfall of composite deck materials that contain wood fibers, which absorb and hold the stain. According to the manufacturer, a light cleaning with detergent to remove dust and dirt from the surface is all that's needed to keep the material looking as good as it did the day it was installed. For more information, contact Azek Building Products, 877/275-2935,

Closed-Cell Foam Sealant

It's a tough task to convince some contractors that the benefits of low-pressure foam sealants might outweigh the risk of window or door frame distortion. But in coastal environments, a closed-cell, low-pressure sealant like Benjamin Obdyke's Gap Guard, although pricier than weaker open-cell sealants and fiberglass insulation, will fight leaks and prevent moisture and mold better than anything else. Unlike fiberglass stuffed in the cracks, Cap Guard actually stops air and water. It also doesn't sag, fills larger spaces than caulk, and lacks the permeability of open-cell foam. Once cured, the closed-cell foam's airtight structure won't act like a filter and collect airborne dirt, dust, and other allergens. According to the manufacturer, Gap Guard also yields more sealant than most 20- to 24-ounce cans. For more information, contact Benjamin Obdyke Inc., 800/346-7655,

Fluorescent Work Lights

The Husky 84-Watt Portable Tripod Fluorescent Work Light provides 360-degree illumination in a surprisingly compact, easy-to-carry package — just 33 inches long when folded up. Unfolded, it stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and can light up large workspaces — up to 17 by 24 feet — by producing the equivalent of 300 watts of incandescent light in all directions with no heat buildup. It also draws less than 1 amp of power — a nice feature when running it off of a generator powering other tools. The two 42-watt compact fluorescent lightbulbs are set in a protected, telescoping module that automatically powers-on when the module is raised (and off when lowered), eliminating the struggle to find power buttons in a dark work area. The product comes with a 12-foot, 18-gauge, 3-wire outdoor-rated power cord that stores in a compartment in the base of the unit. Available only at Home Depot,

Stable Shower Stall

On the speed of installation alone, Cambridge Moldings' Lily Pod outdoor shower enclosure beats constructing a pressure-treated wood-frame shower. The modular construction unit includes hidden hardware upon completion, and the preassembled panels screw into four mounted posts in mere hours. Consisting of a maintenance-free composite vinyl (a cellular PVC) encased in powder-coated aluminum framing panels, there's little chance of salt-air corrosion or moisture leading to deterioration and eventually the racking suffered by wood frames. The manufacturer admits there's no strength or wind testing, but it adds that a number of customers on the New Jersey coast have used the Lily Pod panels to reinforce and remodel existing outdoor showers. The manufacturer offers three sizes — single, double, and "condo" — and the panels come in white or tan. Additional parts and options, such as an interior corner bench, shower roofs (including skylight or louvered options), or a removable floor insert, are also available. For more information, contact Cambridge Molding, 866/440-9357,

Bulletproof Walls

Alternative Construction Technologies has developed an interlocking steel stress-skin panel that, as the name of the manufacturer suggests, provides an alternative method of constructing a home — one that may prove useful in the face of major storms. In impact tests, the foam and 26-gauge steel panels withstand not only the ASTM large-missile impact tests (using an 8-foot-long 2x4 propelled at 35 mph) but also the Texas Tech "tornado cannon" that fires a 2x4 at 100 mph, which virtually demolishes a concrete block wall. The latter impact merely dents the panels (albeit, at that velocity, the dent is a bit more than a fender bender). Walls built with ACTech Panels come with an R-24 rating, and the interlock between panels (which includes an S-shaped stiffener that lends the panel much of its strength) practically eliminates air and water infiltration, claims the manufacturer. Universal Safe Structures, a subsidiary of Alternative Construction Technologies, uses the ACTech Panels to construct safe rooms in buildings — an efficient way to make use of the panel characteristics. For more information, contact Alternative Construction Technologies, 800/859-8813,

Safe Sound Source

On site, workers may shy away from hearing protection because it "cuts them off" from the ambient noises of the job site. Bilsom's Sound Management Earmuffs allow important ambient sounds, like alarms or warning shouts from coworkers, to come through while eliminating dangerous noise. The Clarity model uses uniform attenuation to block both low and high frequencies of noise, allowing speech frequencies to pass through unmuffled. The Impact model goes one step further, employing volume-adjustable embedded microphones that switch off when sound reaches or surpasses 82 dB. Both models are made of durable, dielectric plastic, limiting electric conductibility, and come in a variety of formats (overhead, cap-mounted, and more). The Electo model (photo) even includes AM/FM capability and a ventilated headband, ideal for hot environments when simple earplugs lack needed protection. Bilsom's website ( provides a tutorial in hearing safety and good information for understanding the attenuation ratings (level of protection in frequency/Hz) of all hearing protection. For more information, contact Bacou-Dalloz Hearing Safety Group, 800/430-5490,

Fiber Grenades

Designed to protect concrete reinforcing from corrosion, MCI Fiber Grenades also reduce plastic shrinkage cracking by up to 66% in poured wall and slab foundations, says the manufacturer, Cortec. What's more, they're kind of cool. According to Cortec, each grenade (actually a water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol bag) holds fibers and powders containing migrating corrosion inhibitors (MCI) that are released when the grenades are added to the water during the concrete mixing. Toss one in and boom: corrosion protection for your concrete. (Manufacturer's recommended dosage: one grenade per 1/2 cubic yard of concrete.) Cortec claims concrete with the fiber grenade additives improves the "impact strength testing" of concrete. Samples tested per the American Concrete Institute Committee 544 guidelines for impact resistance showed a marked improvement over equivalent concrete without the grenades, according to Cortec. For more information, contact Cortec Corporation, 800/426-7832,