To the Bat Cave, Robin!
I've heard that secret rooms behind hinged bookcases are popular among affluent Gen Xers, but finding unobtrusive hinges able to support a bookcase's weight struck me as a nearly impossible task. Not so. Rixson, a leader in commercial door hardware, has just the product: Its Model 370 Pivot (left; $260) can support up to 500 pounds. Or, for an even heavier door, check out the 1,750-pound-capacity Model L117 (far left; $1,016). Prices include top and bottom pivots for a single door. Rixson, 866/474-9766, www.rixson.com
Room to Move.
If you've ever had a callback for a sticking or drafty exterior door, you'll appreciate Hoppe's HTL Ultimate 2D Hinge. The conventional-looking 4-inch butt hinge is horizontally and vertically adjustable (+/- 1/8 inch) and features maintenance-free bearings and nonremovable pins. It comes in brass, chrome, stainless steel, nickel, gray, white, dark brown, gold, and matte black. Prices range from $15 to $40 each. Hoppe North America, 888/485-4885, www.us.hoppe.com
Taken by Storm.
Almost every reasonably priced aluminum storm door I've seen has one of those black push-button latches — functional, but not much to look at. For an easy upgrade that won't break the bank, consider the Villa from Wright Products. It uses the same three-hole pattern as the old push-button standby and gives older doors an entirely new look. The solid-brass Villa costs about $25; painted versions, $12. Hickory Hardware, 877/560-6100, www.wright-products.com
Changing the look of a staircase by replacing treads and risers can be a pretty involved process. If your client prefers a quick fix, you might suggest BHK's Scala Laminate Staircase System. This combination trim and nosing works with the manufacturer's Moderna Lifestyle 7mm flooring; it snaps onto the laminate planks, finishing the edges and making the treads more "skid-resistant," according to BHK. The product can be used to cover just the treads or the treads and the risers. For homeowners who prefer a less chunky nosing, the company also offers more conventional-looking versions. Scala molding sells for about $6 per lineal foot; the flooring costs about $2 per square foot. BHK of America, 800/663-4176, www.bhkuniclic.com
Take a Spin.
The traditional method of joining factory stair parts entails a tedious process of precision drilling and tightening rail bolts a fraction of a turn at a time. However, a cool new method — dubbed the EasAlign system — promises to make the job faster and easier. The packaged kit contains drilling guides, installation tools, and 30 connectors. Key to the system is the Invis rail connector and tightening tool; it uses a spinning magnet powered by your cordless drill to join stair parts quickly and without a wrench. The kit lists at $795. Crown Heritage, 800/745-5931, www.crownheritage.com
Treads Without Dread.
Is producing site-built staircases slowing down your crew? JL Schwieters' NexStep preassembled stairs could speed things up. Made with LSL stringers and OSB treads and risers, they're stronger than sawn-lumber versions and can reduce stair-construction time in the field by 70 percent, says the manufacturer. The company stocks straight runs for 8- and 9-foot ceilings and smaller runs for use with landings. A 9-foot straight run costs about $120 (based on full-truck shipping from the Minnesota plant to a builder in central Florida). JL Schwieters, 651/762-1110, www.jlschweiters.com
Closets & Accessories
If you commonly work on older buildings, you know that closet space is scarce in most houses built before the 1950s. As far as I'm concerned, the Suite Wardrobe from California Closets is one of the easiest ways to add closets to an old home, because unlike most closet systems it's freestanding. Available in several finishes, it features adjustable legs for trouble-free installation on uneven floors. Prices start at about $80 per lineal foot. California Closets, 888/336-9709, www.californiaclosets.com
When my sister, who's about 5 feet tall on a good day, complained that half of the available space in her closet was out of reach, I told her about Sugatsune's Tallman. This pull-down closet rod makes it easy for kids and other vertically challenged folks to use the upper reaches of their closets. The single-arm TAS model ($150) has a 17-pound capacity; the double-arm TAW model ($250), a 33-pound capacity. Sugatsune America, 800/562-5267, www.sugatsune.com
It's not hard to build your own closet system from little more than edge-banded plywood or melamine. The only problem might be finding all the manufactured accessories your clients want. Rev-A-Shelf, which is best known for its kitchen-cabinet organizers, produces some nice hardware that can really jazz up your closet systems — enough to rival those of major closet manufacturers. Top picks include the HPRV-1925 S Pull-Out Hamper (left; $165), the SHR-84 Spiral Clothes Rack (below left; $319), and the SRC-20CR Shoe/Basket Rack (below right; $261). Rev-A-Shelf, 800/626-1126, www.rev-a-shelf.com
For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog, at www.jlconline.com