In our current building climate, rockers, tapers, finishers, all want a complete range of products to handle every job. And the manufacturers seem eager to please, as every tradeshow will undoubtedly showcase the latest of a company’s line.
The following companies, just to mention a few, want to place their respective products in the hands of drywallers to see how they perform, what they like or don’t like, and then see the market demand climb. Most often, manufacturers will field test these products by singling out a few drywall contractors and handing out demo units for their feedback. Sometimes, the users like the product so much, they will refuse to give back the products. Other times, the feedback will pour back and the designers will go back to the drawing board. In both cases, the suppliers want to make a good, durable product that’s easy to use.
AUTOMATED WORK STATIONSStructus Building Technologies, the company that brought the drywall community the No Coat line which revolutionized the cornerbead market, unveiled a very high-tech product this year, the Autoslam. This new machine automates drywall corner trim application by using a single 500 foot roll of its Autoflex line to produce outside/inside corners of any length or angle, as read in the company’s official press release. It allows contractors to input large sets of specified corner trim lengths and profiles at one time. Once the data has been entered, the Autoslam applies joint compound, and produces and cuts those corners. Its run time averages more than 100 linear feet of corner per minute.
The company’s President Bill Scannell says initially, the target audience for the machine is large residential and commercial drywallers. However, he says the company would consider an alternative down the road should a popular vote call for a smaller unit specifically for smaller residential contractors.
Scannell says the learning curve is relatively quick (around three days) with training from company representatives. Its maintenance is minimal but users want to keep mud from clogging the functions so consistent flushing at the end of the workday is a good idea though not necessary. If you’re onsite and need to use it the next day, there’s no need to clean it.
“In terms of the service, we offer overnight delivery of underperforming components. So far it’s proven to be robust,” Scannell says.
Considering the company is targeting the Autoslam to larger contractors currently, it should come as no surprise that the machine will find itself as a rental unit in drywall yards and building dealers throughout the United States.
EASY ACTIONFastening manufacturing giant Grabber has its lines as well as those it distributes. For those of the former, its E-Z Framing Collar was acquired through another company that had the rights to it. It was introduced to fill a need to frame around a lolly column. Used regionally in the Northeast and Midwest in basements and homes, the product frames an iron support beam.
The E-Z Framing Collar can quickly frame around support columns for finishing with drywall, paneling and more. The collars are made from one-piece construction for fast installation on round columns. The collars fit both standard 3 and 3 ½ inch steel columns.
“If people were trying to finish a basement, they would have to frame around the iron support beams. It would take a lot of time. This was designed to easily frame around those,” says Bevan Wulfenstein, director of marketing for Grabber Construction Products.
Each package comes with enough of the plastic framing collars to do one column. It comes with four in a package.
“It has a hinge on one end which allows you to open the collar up and then clamps around the column. You take the drywall screw and there is a recess where you drive the drywall screw in. You do that with four of them and you attach the drywall with the framing columns. You can frame a lolly column in 15 minutes.”
FIBER OPTIONSNew to the game, relatively speaking, is Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics. The company has recently developed several new drywall tapes. Among those is its FibaTape Mold-X10 Mold Resistant Drywall Tape. It was introduced as a compatible tape to the mold-resistant and paperless drywall systems. The tape includes an anti-microbial coating with increased mold-protection (it achieved a “10” rating on the ASTM D3273 mold test).
Fibatape includes an anti-microbial coating with increased mold protection for a safer environment. The tape provides more protection than paper tape in moist environments and its self-adhesive properties saves time by eliminating the need for a pre-bedding coat.
Currently, distribution of the product is in North and South America. The products have created a buzz overseas and are now beginning to gain some attention there as well, says Kim Wasikowski, marketing communications specialist with Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics.
“While the current building situation isn’t as strong as we would like to see, the company has been able to increase market share with the new innovative products,” says Wasikowski. “Keep an eye out for more new innovative products to come.”
STACK IT UPSafety Stack LLC, of Bethlehem, Pa., offers a device that allows 26 to 30 sheets of drywall to be safely stacked standing against walls without the risk of falling or being pulled over. The device is a platform and a safety bar, which keeps the material 6 inches from the wall and the bar prevents the material from falling over. Its bar is removable to place and remove materials from the platform and accepts a padlock to secure it when unattended.
The device also raises the material off the floor making it easier to handle and helps prevent back injuries. There are no moving parts and the device has an unlimited number of uses.
The device was introduced to the market due to a lawsuit the inventor’s company was involved in and research showed that accidents involving materials crushing people were common and there was nothing on the market.
“A volunteer came into the church after hours to do phone wiring and pulled 22 sheets of 5/8 inch, 4 foot by 12 foot drywall away from a wall that it was stacked against. He was looking for an electric box and attempted to hold the 22 sheets against himself and look for the electric box,” says Safety Stack President Leo McCarthy.
The drywall subsequently fell onto the volunteer pinning his legs under the pile. In 2002, he filed a lawsuit against the construction company and, subsequently, the drywall contractor, drywall supplier, and the church were brought into the trial. The jury trial was held in May 2008 and the jury awarded a $4.3 million dollar judgment.
“Is the investment of $369 worth avoiding a $4.3 million dollar lawsuit? We think it is and that is why this device is being marketed today,” says McCarthy.
MASTER OF MUDUSG hasn’t stopped introducing new finish product lines for its customers. The Chicago-based company recently announced the introduction of the Sheetrock brand Professional Mud Mixer as part of its line of drywall installation tools. This tool for mixing joint compound facilitates quick mixing while minimizing the spinning and shaking of the bucket, and reducing spills and splatters.
The product is made of heavy-gauge steel construction and consists of a 30-inch shaft followed by four S-shaped mixing blades. Because it is balanced, and self-centering, this mud mixer is easier to operate, mixes up to 20 percent faster than conventional mixers and minimizes bucket gouge, the company says. Its Tri-Fold Mixing Action folds material from the sides, top, and bottom, resulting in less shake, less spin and less splatter.
“Leveraging our core knowledge of ready mix and end users’ application of the product led us to develop a better mixer for the professional drywall installer,” says Matt Myers, general manager of Sheetrock Tools.
BLAZE BLITZHaving found very high reception for its Wet n Stick line, Dura-Tape is very close to premiering its latest product. The new Wet n Stick BlazeBlocker is a flame retardant, water activated adhesive joint tape. An interim patent application is already in place for this product combining the water-activated Wet n Stick technology with a flame retardant base paper. The tape will surpass the minimum fire code requisite of a one-hour fire rating, says Dura-Tape President Lee Goldman.
“The opportunity for BlazeBlocker is tremendous, designed specifically for use in fire-rated drywall construction, says Goldman. “Production of this product is likely to commence in early spring 2009. An eventual 2-4 hour rating is expected with application acceptance for both floors and ceilings.”
BlazeBlocker is comprised of paper, manufactured with formulated flame retardants, combined with the application of Wet n Stick adhesive technology; preventing flame penetration of fire rated gypsum panels at the joints.
Joining wallboards (taping) above the grid or during the construction of a demising wall to prevent the possible spread of fire is a messy, time-consuming, tedious task.
Presently, the fire-taping procedure is essentially the same as the first step in traditional drywall taping. The taper must mix his compound (usually very thin and messy), apply compound in the joint, imbed tape into the joint and in some instances, coat over the imbedded tape. Due to current trends, and the wide use of fiber optics, schools, lodging and hospital walls must fall within fire codes guidelines.
BlazeBlocker not only terminates air/smoke flow which feeds flames, but the added fire retardant resists flame ignition. The product will be available no later than March.
Goldman is currently in negotiation with testing certification.
DOWN UNDERFor several years, a wizard from Oz has marketed the Vothole Hole Repair Patch. This repairs holes in drywall, plasterboard, fiberglass, metal and wood surfaces.
“I was a commercial and residential painter for many years,” says Vothole creator David Vogt. “While I was working in this profession I kept experiencing the same annoying problem on many occasions-holes in walls and ceilings. To my amazement, there was no device that could do this time consuming job effectively.
“I decided that something should be invented/designed that could help the ordinary DIY person or tradesmen to finally fix these annoying problems effectively. After many designs, trial and error, I came to invent the hole repair patch.”
Vothole repair patches allow the repair of the hole from inside the inner surface of the hole to the outer surface.
Vogt says sales in Australia and New Zealand continue to increase steadily. Hole Repair Pty Ltd. is interested in U.S. and/or Canadian distribution to distribute the product in the future. Currently, Vogt has been selling the product online through his Web site and through eBay.
STRAIGHT UPAlways making strides with new drywall products, Strait-Flex International’s latest is its X-Crack in a roll. There are 10-foot length rolls that equal 100 feet per box. X-Crack is a PVC/steel-hinged drywall backing that is installed before the drywall and eliminates ceiling cracks commonly associated with structural movement, lumber shrinkage, truss uplift and massive peak movement caused from heavy loads due to snow or ice.
The product is adjustable to any angle and straightens in minutes. It eliminates wood backing in vaulted areas and provides straight, continuous backing for fastening in tray ceilings, tee-pee ceilings and butterfly vaults. This provides the drywall finisher a straight angle that is guaranteed to remain that way forever.
Although the product was originally launched in 2003 in 10-foot sticks, the company reintroduced the product in 2007 in 10-foot rolls for easier and more cost efficient shipping.
The company’s products, tools, and accessories are sold through a network of dealers across the United States, including construction distributors, drywall yards, paint conglomerates, lumberyards and hardware stores. As the name of the company suggests, its lines are available worldwide.
“We continue to develop new construction products, tools and accessories,” says John Conboy, founder of Strait-Flex International. “Our products have been so well received that we’re continuing our efforts in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Australia, and China.”
ARCH EASYArch-It Inc. has created a simple way to install arched openings. The product, distributed by Grabber, is ideal for window, doorway, ceiling-trays, or barrel vaults where the arches install in minutes. The product was invented to give a uniform look every time, while saving the builder time and money, says its President Paul Umscheid.
The arches come in all the standard sizes and fit any jamb. The product, made of waterproof polymer, won’t split, rot or mildew.
Is there worldwide distributing? Not yet, Umscheid says. “We are presently working with Japan and Canada for distribution.”
APLA AND ORANGESThis summer, Apla-Tech introduced the 7-, 10- and 12-inch Slim Line Boxes for the Continuous Flow System. Also, the company put out the “air” driven Box Cannon that utilizes those same Slim Line Boxes. The Continuous Flow with Slim Line Boxes target the larger commercial companies with large volumes of board to finish. The “Air” tools are targeted to the medium to smaller contractors that have smaller volumes of board to finish.
Both the Slim Line Boxes for CFS and the Air Box Cannon were tested for six months in the field before bringing them to market.
The Slim Line boxes are half the size and weight of the conventional boxes and can decrease boxing effort by up to half. The Box Cannon features are three times the distance before filling up.
The tools are distributed through outlets worldwide.
“We addressed finishers’ demand of less weight and decreased effort,” says Dave Darnutzer, COO of Apla-Tech. “These are low maintenance tools and have been embraced by the current owners.”
JET SETWilliam Shane Eirich, inventor of the Tape Jet, is eager to get the word out on his new product.
It’s an Inside/Outside Roller that assumes the outside 90 degree angle, outside off angles, as well as inside off angles and inside 90 degree angles.
“It’s a plastic laminate corner product [made to complement the No Coat cornerbead line] that assumes these different angles allowing you to use it in many different applications,” says Eirich. “But the corner tools out now assume inside and outside 90-they don’t do outside angles. So, tapers have been using 2x4s and their fingers. Having a tool that will span the whole product itself and squeegee out the mud behind it is time saving. Those that have used the Tape Jet have told me the tool saved them days of work just in its ability to apply the product.”
Since the tool assumes different angles per existing wall angles, the adjustable lock allows the machine to conform to existing walls, so you basically place it up against the wall and lock it down and have it set. You might need an adjustment. You don’t have to switch to a different tool head.
Currently, Eirich has applied for a patent on the machine.
Eirich himself is not a rocker, but has several friends who urged him to invent it to work with the No Coat line. He began working on this in January ‘08.
Tape Jet also has a centering nib that centers the product into the corner, presses it in there and helps the tool to track in the corner. The rollers on the tool are graduated and are large on the inside and graduated to the outside to conform to the No Coat product.
Eirich recommends that for servicing, keep the internal ball joints lubricated. There’s a slot that opens on the side of the machine, so one can hose it out with water and then when it’s dry, spray it with WD-40.
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