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Features

  • A Practical Prefab Dormer

    Building on the ground is faster and safer than framing on the roof.

     
  • Building a Freestanding Deck

    Solid bracing and strong connections are the keys to a durable, bounce-free structure.

     
  • Stabilizing a Hillside Foundation

    Helical piers anchor a house on a sliding slope.

     
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    Getting Started With SketchUp

    This 3-D modeling program can be tough to master. Here’s how three builders learned what they needed to know.

     
  • Getting Started in Infrared

    During the late 1970s and early 1980s, I supervised residential insulation projects in central Vermont while working with a couple of regional agencies.

     
  • Replacing a Bulkhead Door

    Proper flashing and a solid base of pressure-treated lumber and cellular PVC promise long life

     
  • Rocking Solo

    With a few specialized tools and techniques, you can cost-effectively hang drywall by yourself.

     
  • Basic Pattern-Routing for Perfect Tread Returns

    As a full-time stairbuilder, I've learned that I can't always rely on premilled parts, especially when staircases get complicated.

     
  • Fixing a Botched Stucco Job

    Late last year, a couple called me about some leaking windows on the back of their 5-year-old stucco house. My company hadn't built the home; it was part of a tract development in Southeastern Pennsylvania thrown up during the recent housing boom.

     
  • Stain-Grade Finishing On Site

    Use premium materials and a methodical approach to achieve a cabinet-grade finish.

     
  • Builder's Guide to Windows

    There are more than 100 million homes and approximately 20 billion square feet of clear-glass residential windows in the U.S. Most of those homes are more than 30 years old, and as a result, the market is growing for replacement windows with energy-efficient insulating glass.

     
  • Hanging Heavy Doors

    As the punch-list guy for a high-end builder in Osterville, Mass., I end up installing plenty of top-quality solid-core doors. These doors are at least 1 3/4 inches thick and weigh 100 pounds or more, so I have to work smart.

     
  • Reroofing With EPDM Rubber

    Roll roofing was the wrong material for the flat roof under this second-story deck.

     
  • In the Path of the Storm

    As a structural engineer with the APA/Engineered Wood Association, I perform forensic assessments of single- family homes after hurricanes and tornados.

     

Letters

  • Letters

    Fires from spray foam; exterior foam and moisture problems; SIPs fan; restoring old windows for efficiency

     
  • Letters

    Reinforcing wood with steel; economics of attic insulation

     
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    Letters

    Oldie but goodie; combo condo question; chimney-cap follow-up

     

News

  • JLC Report

    Regulators consider new table-saw safety standard; repair guidelines for tainted drywall updated; New Jersey framer fined for fall-protection violations; more

     
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    JLC Report

    Concerns about spray foam; passive-house rift; deck failures; and more

     

Q&A

  • Attaching Wood to Concrete

    Q: Do I have to use pressure-treated lumber when I'm attaching wood to concrete or masonry in "dry" situations - such as inside a basement or under the protection of a covered porch? I seem to remember from reading the code that treated wood is only required within a certain distance from grade.

     
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    Beefing Up Attic Joists for Living Space

    I need to convert an attic to livable space with minimal disruption to first-floor habitation.

     

On the Job

  • Installing a Split Column

    During a recent remodeling project in Houston, we demolished a structurally defective balcony that had been supporting the corner of a roof. In its place we installed an 18 1/2-foot-long 4x4 steel post that extends from the soffit down to ground level.

     
  • A Rot-Resistant Chimney Chase

    I do quite a bit of siding rehab work, much of it on relatively new houses.

     
  • On the Job

    Sleek but strong handrail; backyard face-lift; easier winders

     

Business

Products

  • Cutting-Edge Tubs

    This year Kohler added three bathtubs to its Rªve collection of modern geometric bathroom fixtures.

     
  • Stainless Steel Railings

    Lavi Industries recently introduced a complete line of stainless steel tubing, brackets, and fittings that can be used to assemble — without welding — almost any type of interior or exterior handrail.

     
  • Prefab Post Wrap

    With KleerSnap Post Wrap, it takes as little as 10 minutes for a single worker to trim out a post, says the maker.

     
  • Air-Flow Enhancer

    When you need to increase air movement between rooms, the Perfect Balance In-Door Pressure Balancer offers a more elegant solution than leaving an enormous gap beneath the door.

     
  • Affordable Air Bath

    Mansfield Plumbing Products recently added a line of air baths to its Pro-Fit collection of whirlpools and soaker tubs.

     
  • PVC Deck Boards

    Wolf says its PVC Decking offers the performance of premium PVC at a more affordable price.

     
  • Weather-Resistant Sheathing

    Drywood is a structural wall and roof panel with an integral weather barrier that eliminates the need for roofing felt, waterproof membranes, or housewrap.

     
  • Lightweight Stone

    Although BellaStone looks remarkably authentic — thanks to the real stone used in the manufacturing process — the 50-inch-by-24-inch panels weigh a fifth as much as traditional stone and install 50 percent faster, says the maker.

     
  • Resistant Coating

    The Trex Transcend Decking & Railing System is made from the same durable, low-maintenance material as the company’s standard products, with one difference: The tops and sides of the boards have a hard-shell coating with a wood-grain pattern and low-sheen finish that allegedly resists stains...

     
  • Replacement Shower

    The Ciencia solid-surface shower is primarily designed as a replacement for an outdated bathtub.

     
  • Quick-Connect Patio

    EcoShield Deck Tile is a wood-plastic composite that’s made with 95 percent recycled content and never needs staining or painting, says the maker.

     
  • Skinnier Shakes

    Fiber-cement siding manufacturer Nichiha recently introduced a low-priced line of shakes.

     
  • Dripless Glue

    Titebond says its new fast-drying PVA formulation for interior trim carpentry eases the hassle of assembling vertical joints.

     
  • Rot-Resistant Doors

    Endura's FrameSaver Door Frame is solid wood except for a 4-inch-long piece of composite finger-jointed to the bottom; this material, the maker says, is impervious to rot and insects and doesn't wick moisture.

     
  • Condensed Cooktop

    Dacor recently introduced a scaled-down version of its Distinctive Gas Cooktop.

     
  • Easy Access

    Homeowners who have difficulty reaching items on high shelves or bending down for low ones might appreciate the AutoPantry, a vertical closet carousel that brings everything within reach at the push of a button.

     
  • Two in One

    Whirlpool's Resource Saver Double Oven Range fits two separate ovens inside the footprint of a standard-size range, for a total capacity of 6.7 cubic feet.

     
  • Straw Doors

    Masonite says its new Safe 'N Sound Interior Doors are milled from a low-density fiberboard (called DorCor) that uses renewable wheat straw as its primary raw material.

     
  • Noninvasive Wiring

    FlatWire is a paper-thin copper wire approved for use in low-voltage lighting, audio, video, voice, and data applications.

     
  • Disappearing Vent Hood

    Miele's stainless steel Telescopic Downdraft Hood tucks away beneath the countertop until it's needed, at which point it pops up with the touch of button, topping out at 14 inches above the cooking surface.

     
  • Battery-Powered Shades

    The QMotion may look like a simple pull-down shade, but a motor and battery pack are concealed inside its roller tube.

     
  • Simplified Crown

    Not everyone relishes the challenge of coping and mitering crown molding.

     
  • No-Mess Tile

    Adhesive tile mats - self-adhesive sheets with peel-off liners on both sides - allow you to fasten tile to surfaces without dipping a trowel in a bucket of glue.

     
  • Spray-Foam Fastener

    When I need a powerful gap-filling adhesive, I reach for a can of polyurethane foam. Touch 'n Seal is hoping roofers will do the same.

     
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    Products

    Self-adhesive fire tape; condensing boiler; insulated skylights; minimalist receptacles; multipurpose toilet; affordable LEDs; wood tiles; dryer fan; more

     
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    Self-Adhesive Fire Tape

    Flame Fighter is a self-adhesive fire tape that needs no joint compound to make unfinished walls code-compliant.

     
  • Stainless Steel Heat Exchanger

    According to Triangle Tube, the Prestige Solo Condensing Boiler is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly heating systems on the market.

     
  • Insulated Skylights

    Aerogel is an ultra-efficient translucent insulator that’s been used in commercial skylights since 2003.

     
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    Releasable Sheet Floor Adhesive

    Armstrong’s S-289 Releasable Sheet Floor Adhesive is a water-based low-VOC formulation designed to make residential vinyl-backed flooring easier to install and repair.

     
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    Wall Accessories

    If you can’t stand the sight of cover plates, consider Bocci’s 22 Series Wall Accessories.

     
  • Floor Heat Cable

    WarmWire floor heat cable makes it easy to incorporate radiant heat into a kitchen or bath: You simply tape cable straps to each side of the subfloor, weave the cable between the straps, and cover with a cement-based or gypsum-based mortar.

     
  • Low-E Window Film

    Instead of replacing a sound single-pane window, consider adding Solar Gard Silver AG 50 Low-E Window Film.

     
  • Gray-Water Toilet

    The Profile Smart Toilet conserves space as well as water, says the manufacturer.

     
  • LED Replacement Bulbs

    Switch Bulb Co. says its new LED replacement bulbs combine the color and dimmability of incandescents with the efficiency and longevity of LEDs at an affordable price — $20 per bulb.

     
  • Hand-Cut Wood Mosaics

    Fortis Arbor Wood Mosaics are hand-cut from scraps of bamboo, teak, and rosewood left over from furniture-making.

     
  • Dryer Duct Booster

    With the Dryer Duct Booster you can set up a laundry room almost anywhere in the house without worrying about the length of the exhaust run or the number of bends.

     
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    Recycled Glass Tile

    Fireclay’s Crush 100% Recycled Glass Tile is made from raw waste glass that’s been crushed, reprocessed, and fired.

     
  • Exterior Sealant

    OSI QUAD is a premium exterior sealant that sticks to wet surfaces, does not accumulate dust, and “self-tools” into a concave shape, says the maker.

     
  • Enamel-Glazed Work Surface

    Pyrolave is made from slabs of lava extracted from a volcanic crater in France, then glazed with enamel and fired in a 1,000°F kiln.

     
  • Fiberglass Shingle

    CertainTeed’s Highland Slate is a single-layer fiberglass shingle that duplicates the texture and color of natural slate.

     
  • Water-Efficient Toilet

    Kohler’s Wellworth Toilet — which has been around for 75 years — hasn’t changed much on the outside, but its inner workings have been completely re-engineered.

     
  • Weatherseal Products

    Instead of replacing a leaky window or door, consider using Window and Door Weatherseals from Conservation Technology to fill in the gaps.

     
  • Easy-Opening Cabinet Hardware

    Designed specifically for overhead cabinets, the Aventos Lift System makes it possible to lift even the heaviest door with the touch of a finger, says the maker.

     
  • Rainwater Storage Pillow

    Looking for a way to capture water that doesn’t involve conspicuous rain barrels?

     
  • Laminated Countertops

    Formica says its 180fx laminates look just like natural stone countertops but cost a lot less.

     
  • Pop-Up Power Outlet

    The Kitchen Power Grommet provides convenient access to electricity on virtually any countertop.

     
  • Premium Redwood Decking

    Each board in the new Heritage Collection of 2x6 redwood decking is hand-picked and run through the planer at low speed to give it a refined finish, says the maker.

     
  • Glass Cabinet Pulls

    An easy way to add pizzazz to a humdrum kitchen is to upgrade the cabinet pulls.

     

Toolbox

Toolbits

  • Multi-Purpose Square

    The maker of the Combination-3D try square claims that it can do the work of a saddle square, a marking gauge, a bevel gauge, and a combination square — with no loss of accuracy.

     
  • Easy-Driving Nails

    Switch to Paslode’s Engineered Lumber Nails and you can eliminate the tedium of fixing proud nails and pulling bent ones, says the company.

     
  • Unplugged

    Milwaukee has expanded its lineup of hand tools to include such new items as Tongue and Groove Pliers, Reaming Pliers, Aviation Snips, and a PEX/Tubing Cutter.

     
  • Super Sucker

    According to Metabo, the new ASR 35 Vacuum Cleaner was specifically designed to stand up to the rigors of continuous use in operations that generate clouds of dust.

     
  • Cordless Siding Cutter

    The EZ Shear SST is designed to cut wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement siding products silently, without electricity and without kicking up a cloud of dust.

     
  • Multipurpose Knife

    Unlike other snap-blade knives, Tajima’s Driver Cutter has a stiff tip on the front edge of the blade sleeve that can be used to drive slotted screws, remove staples, or pry open paint-can lids.

     
  • Saw Stabilizer

    With the new DSH-FSC Gas Saw Floor Cart, users of handheld gas saws can make precision cuts that would otherwise require a bulky, walk-behind saw, Hilti says.

     
  • Back Saver

    The Handle on Demand (HOD) uses suction to provide a convenient handhold on any nonporous surface.

     
  • Cloud-Free Grinding

    The DustBuddie is a clear plastic shroud that replaces the factory guard on most grinders and - when attached to an effective vacuum - captures 99 percent of the dust generated by grinding, says the maker.

     
  • 3-in-1 Laser

    Bosch's new GLM 80 laser features a unique "two-axis tilt sensor" that can determine the height of distant objects and perform straight-line measurements.

     
  • Rent-a-Sprayer

    Graco says its RentalPro Airless Paint Sprayers have been designed to stand up to the rigors of the rental market.

     
  • Tough Levels

    Though best-known for clamps and layout tools, Bora also makes a full line of spirit levels, which it says can take anything the job site dishes out.

     
  • Ladder Levelers

    Unlike most leveling devices, the Xtenda-Leg offers an unlimited range of adjustability.

     
  • Smooth-Cut Jigsaw Blades

    Thanks to teeth that face in two directions, Dual Cut jigsaw blades can perform burr-free cuts on both sides of a workpiece, says the maker.

     
  • Small-Scale Concrete Vibrator

    Until now, if you wanted to vibrate a small concrete pour, you either rented a commercial-grade vibrator or banged on the forms with a hammer.

     
  • T-Bevel Angle-Finder

    General’s Digital Sliding T-Bevel can be used to replicate an angle or determine its exact measurement.

     

Backfill

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    Simple Math for a Slow Economy

    Earlier this year, timber-framer Paul Freeman, owner of Brooks Post & Beam in Lyndeborough, N.H., realized he had a problem.

     
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    Gift From the Sea

    A remodeler encountering a layer of Cabot's Quilt inside an old building might mistake it for the tattered remnants of a Hawaiian grass skirt -- hastily stuffed into a wall, perhaps, during a police raid of some Prohibition-era costume party.

     
  • Extreme Rammed Earth

    Rammed-earth walls used to be elementary.

     
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    Reconstructing the Past

    The materials for this project arrived on the job the usual way — via truck delivery — but that was pretty much where any resemblance to a normal job ended.

     

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