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  • Letters

    New deck code is confusing; quick drywall patches; facing the future; finding a thermographer; importance of builder eduction

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    More on mold; JLC Field Guide correction

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    Say no to snitching; SIP tip; insulation debate; beware online referral services; more




  • Q&A: Closing a House for the Winter

    I have customers who wants me to build a log home that will be used seasonally, for about two months of the summer and another two months in the winter. During the rest of the year they want to leave the house closed up and unheated. We're at the edge of the Rocky Mountain Front Range in eastern...

  • Q&A: Effectiveness of Thermal Curtains

    Do so-called "double-cell" insulating window shades perform as advertised? One salesperson claims R-3 if they are installed with an airtight edge seal.

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    Q&A: Winder Layout to Code?

    Although code inspections are not routinely done in the rural area where I work, I want to make sure a winder stair I am building to access the upstairs of a storage building meets residential code.

  • Can You Swap Lithium Ion for Nicad Batteries?

    A reader recently purchased a DeWalt 18-volt cordless tool with lithium-ion batteries and noticed that the new batteries also fit their old DeWalt tools. Is it okay to use lithium-ion batteries in tools that came with nickel-cadmium (nicad) batteries?

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    Fixing a Botched Trim Job

    A homeowner asks how to repair what looks like a botched job, where new entry doors were installed in a brick home covered with stucco or some kind of cement parging.


On the Job

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    On the Job

    Installing a flush flitch-plate beam; rotproof brackets

  • Installing a Flush Flitch-Plate Beam

    A small construction company builds a lot of bump-outs and similar additions. Find out one of the biggest challenges on this project.

  • Rotproof Brackets

    What to do when wooden brackets have seen better days.




  • Shower Heat Exchanger Can Save Energy

    Captures thermal energy from wastewater to preheat incoming cold supply.

  • Waterproofing Membrane for Deck and Fence Posts

    Self-adhesive wrap applied to below-grade section is designed to preventag rot.

  • All-in-One Footing and Pier Form

    Tapered, snap-together formwork includes pre-bent rebar cut to size.

  • Moistureproof Batt Insuation

    No-itch batts are made from natural stone and slag.

  • High-Tech Insulation

    Nanogel material can be mixed with plaster and stucco to improve thermal efficiency.

  • Power Lift for Attic Access

    Fits between trusses and provides an alternative to carrying stored items up and down steep pulldown stairs.

  • Low-Dust Joint Compound

    Sand finished wallboard without creating a cloud.

  • Improved Deck Ledger Flashing

    Locks over edge of the first decking board; diverts water and debris.

  • Better Bath Fan

    Re-design of widely installed unit optimizes noise reduction, energy efficiency.

  • Wall Patch Kit in a Box

    Quick fix for drywall defects.

  • Truck Seat Covers

    Custom-fitted, washable protection from dirt and stains

  • Water-Saving, Clog-Resistant Showerhead

    Air-injection technology enables luxurious spray.

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    Shower heat exchanger; snap-together footer form; itch-free batts; lightweight attic hoist; deck-ledger flashing; truck-seat protection; not-so-dusty drywall

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    Bendable trim; burn-resistant sheathing; color-coded spackling; fastener-free hardwood flooring; lightweight drywall; pullout microwave; more

  • Bendable Trim

    Polymer-based Flex Trim radius moldings generally cost one-third as much as comparable custom-made curved wood moldings and is immune to damage by salt, moisture and extreme temperatures.

  • Safer Sheathing

    The company that invented OSB sheathing now offers a version it says is nearly three times more burn-resistant than a conventional wood panel.

  • Color-Coded Spackling

    DAP DryDex Spackling is a fast-drying product that features a colorful “dry time indicator.”

  • Superior Staircase Protection

    Placing a drop cloth on stairs requires constant vigilance. With the Flex & Form Conformable Staircase Runner, you can lay down some protection and then forget about it.

  • Fastener-Free Hardwood Flooring

    Elastilon Self-Adhesive Underlay Membrane promises to make installing a solid hardwood floor as easy as a laminate job.

  • No-Mess Corner Bead

    Nonmetal corner beads are crack-resistant and easy to put on, but they’re also messy. The inside of Hydrotrim corners are already coated with a water-based adhesive, so they need only water.

  • Joist Hanger Thumb-Saver

    Years ago, a black-and-blue thumb was the mark of all carpenters; now it’s the sign of someone who installs framing connectors.

  • Visible Comfort

    Looking for a cooler way to work, the GloWear 8289 Class-2 Economy T-Shirt is made from blended polyester, making it more breathable.

  • Diet Drywall

    Lightweight drywall sounds like an oxymoron. But USG says that its Sheetrock UltraLight Panels are up to 30 percent lighter than conventional 1/2-inch panels.

  • Plug-and-Play Speakers

    Eaton Corp. has created multiroom audio speakers that only requires a single cat-5 cable to connect with the audio/video source.

  • Pullout Microwave

    Viking’s Undercounter DrawerMicro Oven installs underneath a countertop or wall oven.

  • Pure Plywood

    Like lead and asbestos, formaldehyde was long considered an unpleasant but irreplaceable part of the building process. But this known carcinogen finally appears to be on its way out.

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    Drainage plane for basement walls; waterproofing membrane; foldable dumpster; tile-cleaning kit; retractable vacuum hose; dimmer for CFLs; more

  • Rain Screen for Basements

    Drainage plane for basement walls.

  • Advanced Underlayment

    DuPont claims that its RoofLiner synthetic roofing underlayment offers a number of advantages over conventional felt.

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    Always Available Dust Pan

    Some cleanups really need a broom — but wouldn’t it be nice not to have to mess with the dust pan?

  • Blind-Side Waterproofing Membrane

    MiraPly self-adhering blind-side waterproofing can make a difficult job just a bit easier.

  • Self-Cleaning Tile

    StonePeak Ceramics recently unveiled a line of tile that the company says repels dirt, kills surface bacteria, and even cleans the air.

  • Soft-Sided Dumpster

    Steep rental fees often make it impractical to keep a dumpster on site for the duration of a job, so some builders create an unsightly junk pile.

  • Easier Tile Cleaning

    The Bucket Ape cleaning kit can save you the enormous hassle of carrying heavy buckets of water around the job site.

  • Hose Within a Hose

    A central vacuum-cleaning system eliminates the hassle of lugging around a heavy machine — but there’s still the hose to deal with.

  • Leather Floors

    The idea of walking on cowhide may sound decadent, but Torlys says its leather flooring is made of 100 percent recycled material.

  • Dimmer for CFLs

    A lot of energy-conscious consumers are disappointed with the range and performance of dimmable CFLs. Leviton says its new Decora CFL Slide Dimmer can help.

  • Attractive Waterproofing

    Since most dampproofing coatings are covered up by backfill or studwalls, it doesn’t matter what they look like.

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    Cold-Applied Waterproofing

    Unlike waterproofing compounds that have to be heated in a kettle, Henry’s CM100 waterproofing is applied “cold” and cures in contact with moisture in the air.

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    Latex Foam

    Fill gaps around windows, doors, and plumbing penetrations with Daptex Plus latex foam sealant by Dap.

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    Package Deal

    Rheem’s SolPak solar hot-water heating package.

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    Breaking Rocks

    Skip the hard labor of feathers and wedges — and the waiting time of hydraulic cement — and split rocks and concrete with the Ezebreak Micro-Blaster II kit.

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    Heat Pump

    The Tranquility 27 Series geothermal heat pump is ClimateMaster’s latest and most efficient unit, with an EER rating of 27.

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    Quick Stick

    Grace Bondera self-adhesive tile underlayment lets you quickly install tile over a variety of finished surfaces, with no mortar or mastic.

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    Get the Edge

    American Bullnose Co. makes custom bullnose edge pieces that match your tile or stone exactly.

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    Hot Wired

    The high-efficiency DSZC16 ComfortNet heat pump by Goodman is performance-rated at 16 SEER for cooling and 9.5 HSPF for heating.

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    Top Concrete

    Increase your chances of fabricating a crack-free countertop surface by using a concrete formula made specifically for the job.

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    Commercial Appeal

    Add a custom touch to a kitchen with made-to-order stainless steel or copper countertops by Specialty Stainless, the residential division of Eskay Metal Fabricating.

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    Sliding Nuts

    Over time, as the wood in a structure shrinks, continuous-rod seismic hold-downs can loosen and become less effective. The RAS Nut by Ratcheting Anchor Systems moves with the structure to stay tight.

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    Solar Light

    Shed light anywhere on a property — without wiring — with Larson Electronics’ solar-powered Magnalight SPLED-5 exterior fixture.



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    Super-Insulated Tank For Heating Fluid Storage

    Wouldn't it be nice to store excess heat generated by solar panels and biomass boilers in summer for heating during the winter? Here's a stab at a tank designed for the purpose.

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    Vermontasaurus vs. The Zoning Board

    Vermontasaurus vs. The Zoning Board

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    Rocking Out in Waukesha

    Some years ago, Mogensen bought a nice lot in Waukesha, Wis. — a two-acre plot surrounded by town parks and conservation land, the last undeveloped free spot in the area. He planned to build himself a home there. But when he started to excavate, he hit rock 2 feet down. Lots of rock.

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    Plasma-Screen Windows

    Computer engineer and part-time carpenter Ryan Hoagland, has developed a system for configuring one or more high-definition plasma TVs as a remarkably convincing substitute for conventional windows.