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Features

  • Duct Design Basics

    Budget, climate, and construction details all influence duct design for heating and air conditioning. An hvac engineer explains how to choose a layout that guarantees client comfort.

     
  • Making Walls Watertight

    Siding sheds water, but it’s not waterproof. A wood construction expert warns against leaks caused by sloppy housewrap and flashing details, and shows how to do it right.

     
  • On Site With Parallam

    For long spans and heavy loads, parallel strand lumber is a good substitute for steel. The beams are dimensionally stable, come in a variety of standard sizes, and can be worked with ordinary carpentry tools.

     
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    Plug-In Electrical Testers

    Using an inexpensive tester, you can troubleshoot a miswired receptacle without even removing the cover plate.

     
  • Step by Step With Foam Forms

    Foam concrete forms are gaining popularity, both below and above grade. Three builders describe how to assemble three different systems: stackable blocks, large-core molds, and sheet forms.

     
  • Beating the Big Chill

    Productivity drops when it’s cold, and some materials, like caulks, glues, concrete, and plaster, just won’t perform well. We compare features on several types of portable heaters and give tips on how to match the heater to the job.

     
  • Design Rules For Adding On

    Additions don’t have to look like they were just stuck on. An architect tells how to blend new space with existing in ways that make the original structure more attractive.

     
  • Interview: Managing Subs

    Every successful builder has to learn to work effectively with subcontractors. A commercial contractor with roots in residential construction talks about the systems he uses to keep his subs on budget and on time.

     
  • Making Room at the Top

    Storage trusses have no center panel point and a heavier bottom chord, creating usable attic space for little extra cost.

     
  • New Laws New Lights

    Beginning this month, the federal Energy Policy Act will do away with some of the most popular fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. Here’s how to pick appropriate replacements.

     
  • Sturdy Site-Built Stairs

    Sawn-carriages are strong and easy to build, but housed-stringers hide shrinkage better. A finish carpenter explains a method for building stairs that takes advantage of both approaches.

     
  • Estimating Basics for Remodelers

    Accurate job-cost information and a thorough estimating checklist help this successful remodeler win jobs that make money.

     
  • Reciprocating Saw Update

    Tool manufacturers have introduced a whole new crop of these versatile demolition tools. Here’s an up-close look at what’s available.

     
  • Remodelers' Guide to Lead Paint

    Remodelers have an obligation — both legal and ethical — to protect workers and clients from the hazards of lead-based paint. A research scientist specializing in environmental health offers practical guidelines for reducing this risk on the job site.

     
  • Site Skills for Job Foremen

    Good organizational skills are as important to a job’s success as technical know-how. An experienced foreman reviews the rules he and his crews follow to ensure quality while keeping the job moving.

     
  • The Complete Coverup

    For upstairs additions, weather protection is critical. A second-story pro from the rainy Northwest explains his method for fast, effective tarping.

     
  • Transit Tips

    A finish carpentry foreman explains how to use a transit for fast, accurate layout of framing and finish work.

     
  • Controlling Costs With Allowances

    In the rush to start construction, final product selections are often put off until after the work has begun. A design-builder explains how to eliminate guesswork when pricing unknowns by including allowance prices in your contracts.

     
  • Fiberglass vs. Cellulose: Making the Choice

    In the insulation industry’s version of the Chevy/Ford debate, builders are faced with conflicting claims and a host of distracting side issues. This no-nonsense comparison shows that, depending on the job, both materials perform well when used correctly.

     
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    Installing Cabinets Solo

    Tools and tips for hanging kitchen cabinets, by a builder who prefers to do it alone.

     
  • NKBA's 27 Principles of Bath Design

    Clearances and layout guidelines for the design of safe and comfortable bathrooms.

     
  • Raising a Small Shed Dormer

    There’s no time to waste when the roof is off the house. An experienced remodeler describes the methods he uses to strip the roof, cut the opening, and frame a dormer addition in just two days.

     
  • Wood I-Joist Do's and Don'ts

    Wood I-joists differ structurally from solid wood, and so do the rules for cutting, supporting, and fastening them. A manufacturer’s field rep tells how to avoid common I-joist framing mistakes.

     
  • Air-Sealing The Story-and-a-Half

    Even in a well-insulated home, certain framing details invite air leaks and heat loss. An energy consultant shows how to avoid costly weatherization retrofits by including effective air barriers in the framing process.

     
  • Common Roof-Framing Errors

    A wood-frame expert takes us on a tour of the most common mistakes made by roof framers, and shows how to do it right.

     
  • Hot-Weather Concreting

    Concrete sets up fast in hot, dry weather, increasing the chance that cracks and surface defects will develop. A concrete contractor from the desert Southwest tells how to keep your cool in the heat of a concrete pour.

     
  • Pricing For Profit

    When it comes to bidding, the lowest price isn’t always best. A veteran remodeler explains five strategies that raise the odds you’ll not only get the work, but you’ll make a profit, too.

     
  • Simple Whole-House Ventilation

    For small, tight houses and apartments, full-blown mechanical ventilation systems may be overkill. Here’s a tested approach that uses an upgraded bath fan, a programmable timer, and a few air inlets to guarantee fresh air at minimal cost.

     
  • Troubleshooting Water Heaters

    Most water heater problems can be solved quickly and at little cost — if you know what to look for. Two water heater specialists explain the step-by-step procedures for finding and fixing trouble.

     
  • Exterior Trim: Design Basics

    Why do some houses look better than others? An architect explains the fundamental principles that distinguish good exterior details from bad ones.

     
  • Layout Tricks for Rough Openings

    As any finish sub knows, careful framing smooths the installation of drywall and trim. Follow these guidelines for fast, accurate framing of doors, windows, stairs, and fireplaces.

     

Letters

  • Letters

    Whole-house ventilation, steel framing considered

     
  • Letters

    Baluster busting revisited, simple water level

     
  • Letters

    Ventilation questions, curved valley rafter layout

     
  • Letters

    Three-coat vs. one-coat stucco, wiring device needs further testing

     
  • Letters

    Wood I-joist maker opposes APA standard, preventing ice dams at skylights

     
  • Letters

    Truss bracing, pressure-treating chemicals

     

News

  • Eight-Penny News

    Certified eco-friendly lumber, multifamily tax shelter threatened, CAD services, year-end tax checklist

     
  • Eight-Penny News

    Contractors working together, OSHA funding cuts spark changes, housewrap study

     
  • Eight-Penny News

    Referral network for insurance repairs, ambitious research into storm-resistant houses, MSDS for sawdust

     
  • Eight-Penny News

    OSB maker indicted for fraud, carpet offgassing revisited, code bodies flip-flop on cellulose flammability

     
  • Eight-Penny News

    Generic I-joists, hurricane-proof glass, debunking EMFs

     
  • Eight-Penny News

    Green builder programs, builders go on line, American-style framing withstands Japan quake

     

Q&A

  • Q&A: Painting PT Decking

    Q: Some of my customers want their pressure-treated decks painted, but I’ve had trouble getting paint to adhere well to pressure-treated wood. What’s the solution?

     
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    Q&A: Chimney Flashing for Metal Roofs

    Q: I have to flash a chimney where it penetrates a corrugated metal roof with ridges 8 inches o.c. What’s the solution?

     
  • Q&A: Exterior Foam and Moisture Problems

    Q: If I use foam insulation board on the exterior of a wood-framed building, will it cause condensation within the walls?

     
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    Q&A: Flaking Concrete

    Q: What causes a concrete slab to form a thin top coat that can flake off or, if something is dropped on it, chip off in big pieces? Some customers want a glasslike finish on their garage floors, but after screeding and power troweling, the surface often becomes a thin, flaky material that doesn’t...

     
  • Q&A: Frostproof Slab-on-Grade

    Q: We are faced with a site for a 1,400-square-foot, story-and-a-half house in a northern climate with a 6-foot frost depth. We propose to build the house on a slab-on-grade foundation, some of which will be near ledge. Does the footing for such a slab have to extend below the 6-foot frost depth...

     
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    Q&A: Painted Plywood Floors

    Q: Can painted plywood be used as both the subfloor and finish floor over 24-inch on-center joists? What thickness would the plywood need to be? Would I need two layers?

     
  • Q&A: Repairing Rotten Sheathing & Siding

    Q: We recently encountered crumbling waferboard sheathing, which had been installed right down to grade. This sheathing wicked water about two feet up the wall of an enclosed porch. The clapboards and sills were so rotten they fell apart in our hands, but the rest of the wall appears sound. If the...

     
  • Q&A: Exterior Door Swings

    Q: Why it is that most exterior doors swing in rather than out? I can think of several reasons why they should swing out: (1) It is more difficult for the wind to get around a door that swings out since it is pressing the door against a seal rather than away from it. (2) An out-swinging door can...

     
  • Q&A: Patching Stucco With Mortar

    Q: We blocked over a couple of basement windows in a stuccoed stone foundation wall. What’s the best way to patch the stucco? Can a simple bagged mortar mix be used to cover the block, or do we need to use stucco?

     
  • Q&A: Metal Roofs in High Winds

    Q: We build along the coast in North Carolina, which is considered a high-wind zone with gusts up to 120 mph. We’re interested in using standing-seam metal roofing panels, but we are concerned about blow-offs. Can you tell us what details and panel specifications we should require from our roofing...

     
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    Q&A: Rafter Framing With Unequal Wall Heights

    Q: How do you figure rafter lengths for a gable roof when one wall is 10 feet high, and the other is 8 feet high (illustration A)? The span of the building is 24 feet. We want the roof pitch to be the same on both sides.

     
  • Q&A: Twisted Deck Boards

    Q: On more than one occasion, I have installed 5/4x6 pressure-treated wood decking with the growth rings facing down. We screwed the boards down with stainless steel screws, but the edges still curl and warp very badly. How can this be prevented?

     
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    Q&A: Heavy Roof Loads From Tile

    Q: We are designing a house with heavy clay roofing tiles (which weigh about 800 pounds per square). How should we calculate the dead loads for choosing our roof rafters?

     

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Products

  • For What It's Worth

    Thermostatic crawlspace vent, new fiberglass-mat roofing paper, fold-up hearing protectors

     
  • For What It's Worth

    Skylight tubes, portable job-site cooler, flexible J-channel, low-VOC contact cement

     
  • For What It's Worth

    Improved eye protection, new ladder bracket for roof work, airtight can lights, foam vapor barrier seals for plumbing penetrations

     
  • For What It's Worth

    Microwavable glue, air-sealing tape for exterior sheathing, adjustable corner trowel, tow-behind dump bed

     
  • For What It's Worth

    Joist hanger alignment tool, power cord reel, fiber cement roofing

     
  • For What It's Worth

    Rubber roof slates, nonslip eaves membrane, clapboard installation jig, hook-and-loop tape for carpet installation

     

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