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  • Letters

    Protecting trees on site; radiant-heat claims revisited; unnecessary design regulations; pedal power; more



  • News

    IRC adopts residential-sprinkler requirement; Long Island town imposes energy-efficiency standards; new homes shrinking; more



  • Removing Kerdi Epoxy Grout With Heat

    Q: Using a heat gun is an approved method for removing cured epoxy grout from tiles and fixtures [see Q&A, 5/08]. But can the same technique be used when the tile has been installed over Schluter’s Kerdi waterproofing membrane, or would the heat damage the membrane?

  • Can Dimmer Switches Save Energy?

    Q: We know that compact fluorescents deliver energy savings, but how about dimmer switches? The assumption is that homeowners will use them to turn down lights to save money — but do they actually save energy?

  • Are Windows Required in Basements?

    Q: We’d like to start building basements with precast concrete panels, but we’ve been running into resistance from local code officials. Are basement windows required when a house is built with a full foundation?

  • Is It Safe to Retrofit Exterior Foam Insulation?

    Q: I built a lot of homes in upstate New York in the 1980s using 2x6 studs, fiberglass batts, and a poly vapor retarder for the shell. Given the rising cost of heating and cooling, the owners are asking about energy upgrades to their walls. I'd like to suggest adding 1 or 2 inches of rigid foam on...


On the Job

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    On the Job

    Custom shower niches; working inside the bubble



  • Surviving the Recession

    We’re in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty in the financial markets, and consumer confidence is the lowest it’s been in a long time. It seems that no one really knows what’s going to happen.



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    Soft batts; fire-stopping hole sealer; efficient furnace; easy-to-program thermostat; expanding fiberglass insulation; more




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    PacTool International Siding Gauges

    Hang fiber-cement siding by yourself and guarantee the right exposure with a pair of Siding Gauges from PacTool.

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    Cooper Hand Tools Vertical Snips

    Protecting your hands from razor-sharp edges can be tough when you're cutting aluminum or steel siding with conventional aviation snips.

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    Malco Products Sider

    If a speed square is a framer's go-to layout tool, Malco's Sider is the equivalent for vinyl-siding installers.

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    Dude Tools Bolt Marxster

    Laying out anchor-bolt locations on a mudsill is quick and simple with the Bolt Marxster from Dude Tools.

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    Milwaukee Wormdrive Saws

    Milwaukee's two new wormdrive saws — 6477-20 (with standard plug) and 6577-20 (with twist-lock plug) — feature 15-amp motors, 12-foot cords, rafter hooks, on-board wrench storage, magnesium housings, and sight glasses for checking the gear oil.

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    Senco SCN49 Coil Siding Nailer

    At just over 5 pounds and with adjustable depth-of-drive, the Senco SCN49 coil siding nailer accepts wire and plastic collated nails from 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches.

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    Prazi Beam Cutter

    Getting through a 6x6 or a 4x4 with a 7 1/4-inch circ saw typically requires multiple passes, but with a Prazi Beam Cutter attached you can cut up to 12 inches in a single pass.

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    Klein Tools 25-Foot Tape Stop Power-Return Rule

    Fans of auto-locking tape measures should check out the 150th-anniversary version of Klein's 25-foot Tape Stop Power-Return Rule.

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    Calculated Industries Ultra Scale Master Pro Digital Takeoff Tool

    Anything that promises to speed up takeoffs and estimating deserves a look.

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    Lufkin Pro Series Fiberglass Long Tape

    Available in 100-, 200-, and 300-foot versions, the Lufkin Pro Series Fiberglass Long Tape has three interchangeable end hooks.

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    Leica Geosystems Disto D2 Distance Meter

    Sized to fit in a shirt pocket, the Leica Disto D2 is the smallest distance meter available and the simplest to use, says the manufacturer.

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    Bad Dog Tools Rover Bits

    Sold in sizes from 1/4 inch to 2 1/2 inches, Rover Bits from Bad Dog Tools are the only drill bits I know of that can make curving holes that turn a corner.

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    Malco Sheet Metal Double Enter Drill Bits

    Designed for drilling sheet metal, Malco's Sheet Metal Double Ender drill bits are perfect for ductwork, metal flashing, and gutters.

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    Lenox Diamond Hole Saw

    Lenox's Diamond Hole Saw makes cutting holes in tile and stone for shower valves, faucets, and the like faster and easier.

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    Starborn Industries Smart-Bit

    When it comes to predrilling exotic hardwood or fiber-composite decking, the Smart-Bit is the best tool for the job.