See-Through Storm Panels

During the busy hurricane season of 2004, many people left their storm shutters in place for weeks, effectively turning their homes into caves. That is unless they used ClearGuard storm panels. Because these corrugated polycarbonate panels are transparent, they won’t block the sunlight. The panels come in widths of 6, 12, and 14.5 inches, and in six standard lengths to match the most common window sizes. The company’s dealer network will also make custom sizes or sell the builder 20-foot lengths that can be cut to size on the job site. The panels can be fastened directly to the house or mounted on metal tracks. The company says that although the panels are only 1/10 of an inch thick, they pass the same tests as an impact-resistant window: a hit from a 9-pound 2x4 going 34 mph. For more information, contact Transparent Protection Systems, 888/447-8320,

Stiff Engineered Studs

Sometimes you really need a long, straight stick — such as when you’re framing a chimney chase, a tall window wall, or a “no-hinge” balloon-framed gable end for wind-resistant structural strength. That’s when you might want to reach for Versa-Stud laminated veneer lumber (LVL) studs from Boise Cascade. With double the bending strength and 20% more stiffness than typical sawn lumber, Versa-Stud has no warp, no knots, and no wane. And it’s environmentally friendly, according to Boise — made from wood certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), with a process that utilizes the whole log, not just the heartwood. For more information, contact Boise Cascade, 208/384-6161,

No-Hose Nail Gun

Bang badda boom: Framers who like to pack light should check out the new Cordless 20º Round Head Framing Nailer (Model 903000) from Duo-Fast. With a liquid fuel cell for power and a battery to spark the combustion, the company says this gun will shoot about 1,200 nails on one fuel cylinder and 4,000 on one battery charge (a charger is included in the basic kit, and you can also get an optional automotive charger). Nails are paper-tape collated, so they won’t throw tiny bits of wire in your eye — but even so, the kit includes safety glasses. For more information, contact Duo-Fast, 888/631-2020,

Custom or Stock PVC Mouldings

If you never want to paint again, consider Kleer Lumber’s expanded line of Cellular PVC Mouldings. The line features sixteen styles and thicknesses (up from eight), including base cap, bed, brick, cove, crown, drip cap, J-channel, quarter round, rake, shingle band, and sill nosing. Stock and custom sizes are available. The company claims a thickness tolerance of +/- 1/32 of an inch, ensuring a neat fit between adjacent mouldings. They also say that the PVC’s white color is consistent enough throughout its thickness that builders can confidently buy thick stock with the aim of milling their own profiles. For more information, contact Kleer Lumber, 866/553-3770,

Mold-Resistant Drywall

Mold needs moisture and food to thrive. CertainTeed’s ProRoc Moisture and Mold Resistant Gypsum Board aims to deprive the organism of both, with biocide-treated paper facings and a gypsum core modified with moisture-resisting additives that limit water uptake to just 5% by weight. More economical than cement board (the upcharge from standard drywall is reportedly about 33% to 45%), ProRoc can be handled, installed, and finished like any other drywall product. It won’t stand up to an actual flood, the company says, but it’s extra insurance for exterior walls, plumbing chases, basements, or other areas where occasional moisture may foster mold growth on regular drywall. For more information, contact CertainTeed, 800/233-8990,

Security at Your Fingertips

Vacation home, primary home, or rental, you can provide easy keyless entry — but only to authorized users — with Kwikset’s high-tech SmartScan biometric fingerprint-recognition electronic deadbolt locksets. Once a fingerprint is entered on the control panel inside, one touch by the right person is all it takes to open the lock. (The digital memory can hold as many as 50 users.) For more information, contact Kwikset, 800/327-5625,

Easy Truss Bracing

Truss braces are key to structural stability, but installing them can really slow down the job. Save time on your next truss roof with the MiTek Stabilizer truss brace. The recycled steel Stabilizer serves as temporary bracing while you’re setting the trusses, and then it stays in place as permanent bracing. A hammer blow to the brace clip sets the brace securely — no nails needed. For more information, talk to your truss supplier or contact MiTek,

Easier Window Installation

If you’ve ever struggled to muscle a bay or bow window into position, you’ll appreciate Simonton Windows’ thoughtfulness in coming up with a new Bay/Bow cable support system for faster and easier window installations. To prevent windows from slipping out of place during installation, the new system relies on a hook that attaches to a 5/16-inch threaded rod at the top of the window unit, and it allows coarse and fine adjustments to be made at the front of the window for accurate fitting. For more information, contact Simonton Windows, 800/746-6686,

Scaffold Plank Stiffener

Ever get that uneasy feeling in the middle of a long scaffold plank? Put a little less bounce in your step with T-Brace, a simple solution that applies basic engineering to extend the capacity of scaffold planks. T-Brace lets the tradesman couple a 2x10 plank horizontally (the walking surface) with a 2x6 on edge beneath the plank for structural reinforcement, creating a T beam composite-action assembly with strength much greater than either wood element would provide on its own. It sure beats trying to lose 50 pounds in 3 seconds — and it breaks down for easy storage and transportation. For more information, contact T-Brace, 866/454-4983,