Grabber’s PanelMaster

It’s been a couple of years since Walls & Ceilings featured the latest in drywall innovations and according to our online data, profiles of the latest in products and accessories for this market continue to be popular. The magazine submitted a call of entries to manufacturers and distributors of its drywall line and the response was overwhelming.

Whether it’s part of the family of new gypsum board product lines, joint compound, tape or accessories, contractors are interested in seeing what can save on labor costs, increase productivity and improve finishing.

The following companies want to place their products in the hands of drywallers to see how they perform, find out 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 to get their feedback. Sometimes, the users like the product so much they will refuse to give it back. Other times, the feedback will pour in 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.

Full Circle International’s Trigon180 and Grabber’s PanelMaster Radius360 products and accessories

Milling Machine for Drywall

Grabber Construction Products introduced its latest manufactured product, The PanelMaster, at this year’s INTEX Expo in Las Vegas. The product mills a precise corner in drywall, wood, plastic or cement board. The grooves allow material to be fabricated into aligned assemblies. This machine integrates dust control and milling capabilities into a portable format and will also be available in a completely automated CNC unit later this year. The PM line of machines allows the contractor the flexibility of not only working with drywall but also MDF and even aluminum.

Many features have been upgraded from the distributed Magaform line: dust collection has been improved by 40 percent over current technology. The line will allow diagonal milling and sawing functionality has been improved with a multi-axis saw vs. the two-saw system available on the market.

The company’s Marketing Director Bevan Wulfenstein says the learning curve is relatively short.

“Fabrication of simple, high volume assembly footage like soffits is very quick within a few days,” he says. “More complex assemblies are produced over a few months of fabrication experience. Whatever your architect can dream up can be produced quickly and efficiently with the PM fabrication system. The fabrication process also dramatically lowers the cost of the assemblies to make those intricate designs much more affordable for the contractor and ultimately the owner of the building.”

Grabber will begin shipping the product as soon as late summer. The company will be selling the line through dealers across North America and globally through Flextos GmbH.

Grabber representatives do stress that the PanelMaster will not be replacing the Magacon product fabricator. The Magaform 3000 will still be available and serviced by distributors.

USG’s Sheetrock 5/8 inch UltraLight Panels with the Firecode 30

Joint Compound Additive

Another product introduced officially (see also Adventures in Drywall column “Snowblind,” March 2011 W&C), is Never-Miss International’s Final Coat Ultra White. The product is an additive for drywall joint compound that is used in Level 5 finish applications. It can also be used to spray ceilings for a smooth surface, replacing the “stomp” technique.

“The products that are being used to achieve a level 5 finish are expensive to use and fall short of their goal,” says Paula Tuberville, vice president of new product development with the company. “We wanted to produce a product that is more user friendly and achieves a flash-free solid surface.”

The company’s target audience for the product is general contractors, drywall and painting subcontractors.

Final Coat can be applied by roll skimming or by spraying. Field testing was done over a one-year period by independent contractors and union training centers. The product has been very well received and Grabber officially announced that it would be distributing the product at this year’s INTEX Expo.

Detachable Hand-Held Sanding System

Drywall sanding tools innovator Full Circle International released a new sanding system with detachable center hubs which allow the user to create the sanding tool best suited for their particular needs. The center hub version of the Radius360 has the same performance as the original version. The Trigon180 has a detachable center hub, which gives it the advantage of getting into corners. The company’s Pro Handle Adapter is a center hub with an ergonomic handle which converts either the Radius360 or Trigon180 into a hand-held tool. The center hubs can be interchanged quickly by removing the foam replacement pad, sliding the cam lock lever to the unlocked position, then turning the center hub counter clock wise to pop it out of the tool base.

“The adapter concept was first introduced with our original patent in 2003,” says the company’s president, Kent Annis. “We learned that in some parts of the country, contractors simply do not use sanding blocks or sponges on a regular basis for their detailed areas and inside corners. The finish quality of the drywall was less important because texture was applied over both walls and ceilings. These contractors want one tool to do everything quickly, including corners.”

In addition to the center hub pivot mechanism, Annis says the Trigon’s advantage is in its patented flexible foam pads. These foam pads form to the wall like a sanding sponge, eliminating flipping and stuttering across the wall, creating a flawless finish. The tool has a rubber bumper built into the replaceable foam pad.

“The bumper protects the corners and acts as a shock absorber on the wall, much like the rubber sole of a tennis shoe,” says Annis. “After sanding 32 houses [with the Trigon180] … we started seeing wear on only one corner of the rubber bumper on the replaceable pad.”

Distributors and dealers for the line include Tool Source, Trim-Tex, Tool Pro, Ames and Sherwin Williams.

Rokomat USA introduced the Gecko Telescoping Drywall Sander at INTEX Expo

Inside Corners/Flat Seams Tape

The Perfect-90º, designed for inside corners and flat seams by Strait-Flex International, is a 2¹⁄₁₆-inch wide laminated paper tape which allows finishers to complete inside corners with minimal sanding. Very thin but durable, the product features a pre-finished, polyurethane-laminated center ensuring straight, strong corners without the risk of damage from a taping knife. The tape will not shrink or fuzz-up during sanding and the tape’s outer edge features a diamond punch pattern for a superior bond and faster drying with no rippling or blistering. Because no compound is necessary over the center section of the tape and only a light skim coat is required over the edges, the result should be less compound, sanding and labor.

The company asks contractors to call for a complimentary sample.

Bucket Transporter

Louisville, Ky.-based Bucketjack Material Handling Systems International brought its Orbit D Cart to this year’s IBS in Orlando. This cart holds up to four 5-gallon joint compound buckets for ease of transportation on a high-volume finishing job site.

The product was introduced to meet the needs of commercial job site logistics concerning gypsum material buckets, production maximization, safety implementation and workmans’ compensation claim reductions for interior finishing contractors.

One laborer can replace the mixing duties of eight to 10 finishers as they haul, mix and perform crew prep/dispensing (via the drywall pump) from up to four buckets at a time with little or no risk of injury. The cart holds each bucket solidly, prevents “bucket spin” while raising the bucket up higher and nearly eliminates repeat handling of weight. The operator only handles the buckets one time each until they’re ready to be either refilled or tossed. The Orbit D also includes a space for an onboard water bucket, has ample space inside for stashing boxes, handles, knives, sponges, etc., and is made with welded construction and a powder coat finish.

The company currently sells the product direct but is in talks with various distributors, says CEO Damon Beckley.

National Gypsum continues its line of the e2XP family

Telescopic Sander and Vacuum Unit

Rokamat USA showcased its Gecko Telescoping Drywall Sander with H35 HEPA Automatic Filter Cleaning Vacuum with Jöst Air Permeable Abrasives at this year’s INTEX Expo. Originally introduced by parent company Rokamat in Europe, the product has now been launched stateside.

The Gecko has a flexible shaft connecting the tool to a separate motor worn around the waist to reduce the weight of the tool in the hand. The motor has a speed control varying from 350 to 1,700 rpm. Its 8¾-inch sanding head has a cylindrical bellows mount with suspension that flexes in every direction to conform to the surface. The head angle adjusts from 90 degrees to vertical to prevent head flops when sanding walls or ceilings. A bail handle moves up and down the tool and an onboard two-foot extension slides in and out to enable comfortable work at floor level or on a 10-foot ceiling.

The company supplies Jöst abrasives for use with the Gecko. Dust flows across its coated surface through hundreds of small holes and air permeable, non-woven backing into eight large holes in the Gecko sanding head, through the tool body and extension tube and out the vacuum port into the hose. The surface of the abrasive reduces clogging and the need to change pads, allowing longer working without interruption.

The vacuum has a high suction of 140 CFM with a nine-gallon capacity. When the controller senses reduced suction, it shakes dust off the dual HEPA filters electromagnetically to allow continuous working until the bag fills. The vacuum includes variable speed control, automatic on/off controlled by tool power with a five-second delay and casters for greater mobility.

“One can be productive in about an hour, but maximum effectiveness with the tool requires some training,” says Brian Hammerstein, general manager with Rokamat USA. “We are developing a formal certification program. We are working with a few key customers now to optimize it for the softer drywall materials used in the U.S. as opposed to those used in Europe. We expect to deliver the final [U.S.] version in quantity in June.”

Fulcrum Composites’s Curve Corners

Light, Firecoded Gypsum Panels

USG used this year’s INTEX Expo to showcase its addition to Sheetrock UltraLight Panels with the Firecode 30. In addition to the ½-inch, the 5/8-inch non-Type X gypsum panels are up to 30 percent lighter than standard Type X, making them easier to transport, lift, carry and install. Optimally designed for non-rated partitions, as well as wood or steel framed single layer partitions where building codes require 30-minute fire ratings, the panels meet or exceed ASTM C1396 and building code requirements for 5/8-inch gypsum wallboard (non-Type X). They also meet the CHPS standard for low volatile organic compounds (meets CA 01350) with no detectable VOCs.

The panels feature a patented, reengineered core encased in proprietary face and back papers for a high strength-to-weight ratio composite design. The 100-percent recycled natural finish face paper is folded around the long edges to reinforce and protect the core and the ends are cut square and even. The long edges of the panels are tapered, allowing joints to be reinforced and concealed with joint treatment systems. The panels meet or exceed ASTM C1396 and building code requirements for 5/8-inch gypsum wallboard (non-Type X).

The UltraLight panel line will be available through L&W Supply Corp., as well as independent dealers. The product will be available in June 2011. Initial markets include the Ohio River Valley, the mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, the Carolinas, and the upper central Midwest. Additional markets will be added in late 2011 or early 2012.

Bullnose Corners for Inside/Outside Walls

Curve-Corners are internal, external and bullnose pieces for use in commercial and residential buildings.

Manufactured by Fulcrum Composites Inc., the corners bridge the gap between the very tight radii achievable with trim products and the minimum curvature that can be created by bending conventional drywall. Initial products include 90 degree curves for internal and external corners and 180 degree bullnose corners for finishing end walls or half walls. Installation uses the same techniques as conventional drywall, including depth set screws and existing taping and mudding techniques. Curve-Corners are extremely lightweight and durable. They are available in 8-foot and 10-foot lengths, 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch thicknesses and dimensions to match both 2x4 stud walls and steel framing. They can be specified with or without tapered edges.

“We were approached by a local architect who on seeing the range of possibilities with our curved panels asked if it would be possible to develop curved corners that would be completely compatible with drywall,” says Pam Hubbell, marketing director with Fulcrum Composites. “As everyone knows, curves are possible in drywall as long as they are not too tight. Once you get below a certain radius, curving drywall becomes very problematic. The architect wanted to make quite small internal and external radius corners-too small to bend drywall but too large for existing corner beads. We developed the product for him and had so much interest that we decided to standardize it as a product line.”

The product was launched last year and Fulcrum Composites Inc. is currently seeking national and international distribution.

“An added benefit is that the foam cores of the panels offer better insulation than normal drywall. This is especially significant for room corners against an outside wall,” says Hubbell. “Even with good framing and insulation practices, corners are typically less well-insulated than the rest of the wall, resulting in a cold strip in the corner of the room. This results in a ‘waterfall’ of cold air constantly dropping down the corner and across the floor of the room. The extra insulation provided by the curved corners helps to eliminate this.”

AirRenew, from CertainTeed, debuted last year at Greenbuild

Family of Fiberglass-Faced Gypsum Panels

National Gypsum’s e2XP family of extended exposure fiberglass-faced gypsum panels are used to withstand up to 12 months of exposure to typical weather conditions. The line was developed with a coating formulation applied to engineered fiberglass mats. Once converted, these facers enclose a core specially treated to be resistant to moisture and mold. This line consists of four products: e2XP Sheathing (used for outside of sidewall and soffit framing as a water resistant underlayment), e2XP Shaftliner (used to construct lightweight fire barriers for cavity shaftwalls and stairwells in commercial construction and area separation fire walls in multifamily housing), e2XP Interior Extreme (used in both wood and metal frame interior construction for pre-rock applications, the interior side of exterior walls and where moisture exposure is likely) and e2XP Tile Backer (used as a substrate for interior tile applications in high moisture areas).

The company says that all products are available nationwide and for export.

“Our family of e2XP products allows us to offer a complete line of fiberglass-faced gypsum panels which provide our customers an innovative alternative with enhanced performance characteristics over existing gypsum board products,” says Jay Watt, director of sales and marketing/product development with the company.

Drywall Steel Framing System

Another product launch from this year’s INTEX is the ProX RO framing system, offered by CEMCO and Brady Innovations. The system includes the ProX RO Jamb Studs (wide flange jamb studs), ProX Header and two connection clips that save time by eliminating welding, strapping and plating. The product is a systems approach to door, window and mechanical opening framing using less steel and less labor to install providing a smooth framing substrate-“resulting in better quality drywall finish and a safer installation,” says Todd Brady, president of Brady Innovations.

“It was introduced into the market to provide a systems approach for framing contractors and architects and engineers who specify, detail and install metal stud framing,” says Brady. “Also drywall installers greatly benefit from this smooth framing substrate.”

The ProX Header and ProX RO Jamb Studs are code compliant and have ICC reports.

Mold-and Mildew-Resistant Joint Compound

CTS Cement Manufacturing Corporation’s Rapid Set OnePass is a multi-purpose, durable, fast-setting wall repair material and joint compound. It has a mold- and mildew-resistant formula designed for dry or damp areas and may be used in interior or exterior settings. The product won’t discolor paint, matches drywall color and can be painted 90 minutes after application.

“There was a demand for a fast-setting joint compound and repair product that could be applied on the interior or exterior in a single coat and painted the same day,” says Mike Van Kleeck, paint line sales manager with CTS. “In addition, this product offers protection from mold and mildew, very common problems. It carries a ‘10’ rating per ASTM D3273, a perfect score for mold prevention.”

The product’s learning curve is slim to nil, applies just like a 20 minute “hot mud” and sands easily. The company says only a single coat is required. Once the product cures in approximately 60-90 minutes, it can be sanded, painted and requires no further maintenance.

The product was launched nationwide in January and has worldwide distribution.

E-Z Taping Systems’s Flame Fighter

Mudless Drywall Tapes

E-Z Taping Systems-now under new ownership-provides mudless drywall tape. Its Flame Fighter Fire Tape is rated for one- and two-hour walls. The self adhesive product offers the contractor a material for unfinished fire walls designed to cut labor and reduce cost. This product has been tested and certified by Intertek and Warnock Hersey. The Quick Stick (water activated) tape activates when it is made wet and the tape adheres to the seam-no mud to apply prior to tape (unless you have a wide gap). As soon as the tape is dry (approximately 30 minutes) applicators can start applying the first coat of mud. The Peel & Stick product has a pressure-activated glue on the tape.

“While EZ Tape has been in the market for 10 years, we have purchased the line and have rebranded the material,” says Mary Zachman, sales and marketing manager. The newly revamped company launched a website in March and offers new packaging of the products in April.

“We are doing extremely well in the few months we have had this product line,” says Zachman. “I attended the IBS trade show in Orlando this year … and the response was overwhelming-sales have doubled the first quarter of 2011.”