Tools & Materials
2018 NAHB International Builder’s Show
2018 IBS & KBIS
It’s another Builder’s/Kitchen & Bath show in the rearview mirror. The aisles were crowded and the vibe was positive. Josh and I hit the floor hard… We walked a lot miles, visited a bunch of booths, shook a lot of hands, and drank just one beer each;) But as usual, this show was all about amazing tools and innovative products. Here are some of our favorites.
LP Long Panels
LP just introduced a new cedar textured SmartSide Panel. It has no grooves and is intended for use on board & batten projects. The stand-out feature is the size, 16-ft. x 16-in. The advantages of longer panels are obvious: less conspicuous horizontal seams on the wall. Of course you may need an extra set of hands to handle these beasts on a super windy day. Ask your lumberyard about the LP 38 Series Vertical Siding or find out more here.
Tubing cutter twofer
Ridgid was showing off it’s new C-style close-quarter tubing cutter that slices through both 1/2-in. and 3/4-in. tubing, which means one less tool to carry and fumble around for. The cutting wheel is spring loaded so it needs no adjustment as you spin the cutter, and the outside surface has screwdriver slots for getting leverage in tight spaces. The 1/2 – 3/4 Rigid tubing cutter costs $32 and is available at plumbing supply stores and online retailers.
That’s one tough corner
Patching a hole in drywall is not a big deal. Patching a dent in a drywall corner usually means replacing the corner bead—that IS a big deal. CertainTeed has a new tough drywall corner called NO-Coat that stands up to some serious abuse. The corners are a three layer sandwich: the bottom layer is joint tape; the center is a high-strength copolymer plastic, and the top is a surface paper designed to resist scratches and abrasions. At the CertainTeed booth, one gal demonstrated the toughness by whacking corners with a small wooden bat. The paint on the corner showed the impact, but the corner held up great. The NO-Coat corners are applied with joint/taping compound and come in various lengths and profiles.
There was a big crowd, rocking music, and a lot of excitement over the Extreme Post-it Notes at the 3M booth. Apparently these things stick to wood, hot stuff, cold stuff, wet stuff, brick, metal, plastic pipes, ladders, stair treads, flooring, the side of a truck, copper, tools, siding, co-workers, concrete, tile, drywall, asphalt, house wrap, light fixtures, switches, cabinets, leather belts, windows…well, you get the idea. Post-it Extreme Notes will be available at major retailers beginning in March 2018.
German style building blocks
A newcomer to the show was Comfort Block, which is manufactured by Genest, a company that has been creating masonry products since 1927. The 16-in. insulated blocks are similar to products popular in Germany. Comfort Block is a wall system that delivers up to an R-30. Each block is precision ground to achieve a uniform size, which means that if the first row is level and plumb, each addition row will stay level and plumb. They are so uniform, in fact, that they can be stacked using masonry adhesive instead of mortar! The lintels for openings are made of precast concrete. The blocks have built-in conduits for running wires vertically. The exterior walls are ready for stucco, and the interior walls are perfect for a skim coat of plaster. Find out more at comfortblock.com.
New kid on the block
There is now one more choice when shopping for an electrical service panel. Leviton has jumped into the game with its Leviton Load Center. Here are some of the noteworthy features:
- All branch wires terminate at custom lugs in the panel
- Making wiring easier and neater
- Eliminating the need for pigtails
- Entire panel can be terminated at rough-in
- Switching out branch circuit breakers requires no rewiring
- LED indicators remain lit, even when tripped
- It’s the only true power denial circuit breakers (Other AFCI and GFCI breakers, under the right/wrong condition, can be reset but not provide protection)
- Easy install—more room for hands on either side
- Optional glass front
In addition to all these benefits, the new Leviton Load Center just plain looks cool!
Cortex just put the “fast” in its fasteners
Many, maybe most, of the deck builders we talk to absolutely love the Cortex Hidden Fastening System. The system is strong, won’t void warrantees, and looks fantastic (or it would if you could actually see it). But the love affair isn’t without its drama. Unanimously, installers hate dropping the tiny plugs, or having them roll and get stuck between the cracks. They don’t enjoy trying to match up the grain, or appreciate bludgeoning their fingers over and over. But what they complained about most was the fussy process itself and how much time it took. It’s amazing that a plastic strip could solve all those problems. Cortex is now available in corrugated strips! Let’s all shout out a collective: “YAY!”
Control your dust with… magnets
Keeping the mess contained is one of the most important parts of a remodel. Zipwall has been helping us do just that for many years, but now they’ve made it even easier with their Magnetic Dust Barrier Door. It uses specially designed magnetic strips instead of zippers to create a self-closing barriers and enclosures. This means that walking through is as easy as well…walking through. No more zippers to stop and fuss with. And the system wont’ break down or lose integrity after extended use. The base package includes one 7′ 2″ x 4′ 7″ door panel, six magnetic strips, one header bar, and a carry bag for $269.99. For more information, click here.
Hassle-free ceramic drilling
Drilling into tile is sort of a three hand operation: hold the drill, spray the water, and make sure the water stays were it’s supposed to. The Aqua Shot from Miyanaga is a great solution to your ceramic drilling woes. The Aqua Shot drill bit has a built-in water tank that feeds water to the drill as you operate, making the whole process much smoother. Just load the chamber up with water, flip a switch and drill away. The Aqua Shot works with impact drivers and the individual tips can be replaced when they get worn out without having to replace the whole tool. The Aqua Shot is available online for $82.80. Click here for a video of the Aqua Shot in action.
A multimeter/infrared combo platter
The FLIR DM166 is the next must-have tool for electricians and HVAC technicians. It includes all the essential measurement features you would expect from a high-end multimeter including True RMS AC/DC voltage and current, non-contact voltage detection, VFD mode, and more. It also has a built-in thermal imager that can visually help guide you to the precise location of potential problems. At $499, the DM166 is the most affordable multimeter with built-in thermal imaging to date.
Streamlined shower installation
“Goof Proof Showers”, a product line from Mark E Industries, is a system of 8 different shower installation products designed to simplify shower installation. While each technique is not necessarily revolutionary, they combine to make the whole shower building and tile installation process much easier, less time consuming and less expensive.
Goof Proof makes the pouring shower floors with the proper drainage slope much less complicated with the Quick Pitch Float Stick System. Shower floors need to have a minimum drainage slope of 1/4 –in. per 12-in. run. Quick Pitch is a stay-in-place screeding guide system with the slope built into each 3-ft. long piece. You just layout the pieces out on the shower floor, cover with concrete and screed using the Quick Pitch pieces as your guide.
Another convenient part of the Goof Proof Shower system is the String a Level. String a Level conforms to the wall, creating a continuous, level reference for you to stack tile on as you build vertically. This gives you a quick, straight base to work off of so you can knock out tile installation in a jiff. For more info on Goof Proof Showers and to see the rest of the system, click here.