Stainless Connectors

PowrFab offers a complete line of framing connectors made of marine-grade Type 316L stainless steel — a chromium-nickel stainless steel modified by the addition of molybdenum, which greatly increases its corrosion resistance. Type 316L stainless steel is generally more resistant to atmospheric and corrosive conditions than any of the other standard stainless steels, making them virtually impervious to salt, sand, and ocean spray. The PowrFab line of engineered hardware includes joist hangers, beam brackets, stainless connectors, concrete connectors, column bases, post bases, and hurricane clips. Engineered custom brackets are also available to order. For more information, contact Mulder Sheet Metal, Inc., 541/265-4269,

Cellular-PVC Crown

Versatex has developed a new line of extruded cellular-PVC moldings that carries a 30-year limited warranty against delamination, decay, rot, corrosion, or swelling due to moisture. The new line includes five crown profiles, as well as base cap, brick mold, back band, scotia, bed and rake moldings, drip cap, quarter round, and a couple of sill nosings. While the trim can be painted with latex or acrylic primer and latex top coats, the manufacturer claims that Versatex does not yellow if left unpainted. For more information, contact Wolfpac Technologies, 724/266-7928,

No Math, No Fuss

Carpenters looking for a quick and precise way to find the miter and bevel cuts for crown molding will be interested ProSite "5-in-1" Combination Protractor from the L.S. Starrett Co. Think of this as a low-tech version of the Bosch MiterFinder that's a lot easier to carry in your toolbelt. The 5-in-1 tool has two 21/2-inch-wide blades that pivot, allowing the tool to "open up" and read the angle off a simple protractor gauge on the "back" side of the tool. This protractor displays both the angle and its supplement (180 degrees minus the angle). On the "front" side of the tool (shown at left), a precision dial indicates the angle of miter cuts exactly as they appear on the table of your miter saw. This dial also shows the "straight cut" (the complement of the miter cut) — the angle that you'd set on your miter saw if you were to butt the board (for example, a floor board butting into an angled wall). From the miter cut, it's possible to find the saw settings for a compound angle reading off a simple table printed on the tool. It's low-tech, but it works, providing miter and bevel settings for both 38- and 45-degree crown. For more information, contact the L.S. Starrett Co., 800/541-8887,

Faux Ipe

Fiber Composites introduced a new line of composite plastic decking boards that may be the most realistic faux-wood decking available yet. Unlike many composite decking materials that contain a substantial percentage of cellulose fiber, Sanctuary Decking consists of a cellular PVC core wrapped with a layer of acrylonitrile styrene acrylate, a material used to protect automobile bumpers. This outer layer features a photorealistic embossing pattern that captures the grain pattern of a tropical hardwood, and the coloring process creates a graded variation from light to dark that looks remarkably like ipe and jatoba. Pregrooved "GV" boards are available that accept Phantom Hidden Fasteners (made by TigerClaw), a T-profile metal fastener that gets screwed to each joist and provides a positive hidden connection to boards on both sides. Even when grooved, boards are reversible, and they come in 12-, 16-, and 20-foot lengths. Ungrooved square-edge boards come in 20-foot lengths only. For more information, contact Fiber Composites, LLC, 800/573-8841,

Dormer Kits

Fypon has introduced a dormer kit to its William E. Poole collection of exterior trim parts. The complete kit boils a traditional pilastered dormer surround down to just a few pieces. The front face of the dormer consists of a PVC backer board, right and left pilasters, and pediment — a single package that sells for about $875. To complete the dormer, a lower frieze return and upper crown return costs an additional $485. While certainly a high-end feature, it costs a fraction of what it would take to build in wood, and the end result resists water and weathering. Fypon is a urethane "foam" plastic. Not to be confused with a lightweight foam insulation, this stuff is a dense plastic that cuts like a very stiff cheese. Fypon products come double-primed with an exterior-grade, ultraviolet-stable coating, and because the material is impervious to water, it tends to hold paint much longer than wood. For more information, contact Fypon, 800/446-3040,

Gutter Appeal

For adding a nice accent and a lot of curb appeal to the exterior of a home, try copper-clad stainless steel gutters. This material is not only less expensive than solid copper, but it offers a number of performance advantages as well: Because stainless steel is stronger than copper, the material can be run out thinner than solid-copper gutter stock, making it significantly lighter and easier to handle. This material reportedly solders easily, using a 50/50 or higher tin-content solder and small, relatively cool irons. According to the manufacturer, the copper thickness will last more than 60 years in the most demanding salt-air environments. All mechanical fasteners (nails, screws, bolts, rivets, etc.) used should be either copper, stainless steel, brass, or bronze. For more information, contact Rain Trade Corporation, 888/909-7246,