Q&A / 

May 29, 2009 AsktheBuilder News And Tips

What’s in This Issue?

Time Flies When You're Busy and Havin' Fun
Composite Deck Factory Tour
Extension Ladder and Work Platform
Toilets that Resist Clogging
Latest Columns


If you have a question for me, don't hit the Reply button just yet. Go immediately my web site and type in the keywords about your problem into my Search engine. The search box is at the top of every page of my web site. You could have your answer in seconds if you do this! Please pay attention to all links you see at my web site. The exact products and services you often need are right in front of you, and you might be ignoring them.

Time Flies When You're Busy and Havin' Fun

I'm stunned by the passage of time. More than two weeks has passed since the last newsletter. Several weeks ago, a new friend of mine up here in New Hampshire, John O'Brien, exclaimed, "Tim, you have too much on your plate." I was taking John up to see the land I own and then on a hike to the waterfalls.

John and I met just after Thanksgiving last year at an organizational meeting for a Writers Group in Meredith, NH. He's a fantastic retired man who sure can write, kayak, bicycle, hike, etc. all at the spry age of 76. His can't-say-no attitude is contagious, so I was quick to blame him for taking on too many things to do. He wasn't buying what I was selling.

He and I were supposed to go kayaking today, but four continuous days of rain have made the swift and quiet water that was supposed to be the baptismal font of river kayaking is far more than a rookie should tackle. No worries, we'll try again next week after the rain waters make their way to the ocean. If the weather cooperates this weekend, I'll be kayaking on the gentle waters of Loch Winnisquam launching from my dock. Wish me luck!

Composite Deck Factory Tour

UPDATE: October 10, 2011 - GAF Materials closed its composite decking manufacturing facility in Biddeford, Maine. So CorrectDeck no longer is in business.

Yesterday, I was in Biddeford (pronounced "Bidfed"), Maine getting up to speed on the latest technology concerning composite decking. I was at the CorrectDeck factory talking with the owners Marty and Mike. It was a fantastic time. I'll be writing a column later today to be released to all my newspaper clients about what I discovered. The Executive Summary is this: There is a huge variation in the quality of composite decking materials in the marketplace today. Buy the wrong one, and you'll be sorry.

I *love* factory tours. It's the little boy in me being surrounded by big mechanical machines. I can't begin to describe how interesting it is to see the raw materials come in at one end of the plant and then finished product being placed in boxes ready for shipment at the other end. Watching the decking squeeze through the machine-tool dies and into the cooling tunnel is sensational when you think that just a few feet away the raw materials are still separated in different tubes. The carpenter in me was transfixed in amazement as a computer-guided saw, with a blade made by Samurai warriors, cut the material in a straight line as it moved along the production line.

Composite decking is simply a mixture of wood fibers and plastic. But stop and think for a moment. What type of wood and what type of plastic? Mix the lower-quality ingredients together and you get a substandard product. Believe me there is great variety in wood products and plastics. Mix the right ones and you get a great decking material. Add to this a unique process that allows you to use a generous amount of curbside recycled plastic and you get perhaps the greenest composite decking material that can be found here in the USA.

While at the plant, I gave Marty and Mike an idea that will make them the absolute leaders in the industry if they can develop the technology to bring my suggestion to life. We shall see!

Are you thinking of composite decking? If so, visit CorrectDeck.

Extension Ladder and Work Platform

Recently, I tested two products from Louisville Ladder. One was the popular 24-foot fiberglass extension ladder and the other one was a handy folding work platform that's much like a stool on steroids.

The fiberglass extension ladder was beefy and had a great platform at the top that resembles the sturdy plastic top you see on top of just about every step ladder. It's called he ProTop, and is available on their 24, 28 and 32-foot IA fiberglass ladders.

This platform allows the weight of the ladder to be distributed over a wider area so you don't end up with the tips of the ladder denting your siding. The platform has a V-cut in it. This lets you rest the ladder against a medium-diameter tree or on the corner of a house without the ladder pivoting dangerously as you ascend it.

The little work platform is the perfect workmate if you need to paint in a room with 8-foot ceilings, hang wallpaper or just work up in the air for a while. The platform is 12-inches wide and is 20-inches off the floor. When you work on a step ladder your entire foot is never completely on a step. Foot and arch fatigue sets in. This platform solves that issue completely.

I give two hammers up for both products!

Toilets that Resist Clogging

Patrick from Springfield, Oregon wrote,

"I want to buy a toilet that is designed to be very resistant to clogging up.  Everything else being equal, what most determines flushing without clogging?  It seems to me that it is the throat diameter (the outlet from the toilet), but the guy at my local hardware store says it is the size of the hole in the bottom of the tank."

Pat, it's a combination of things, not the least of which is the shape of the colon deep inside the bowl of the toilet. Understand the water that's stored in the toilet tank has a fixed amount of potential energy. Remember that equation we all were taught in high school physics?  Force = mass X acceleration

You want the water in the tank to get into the bowl as rapidly as possible and then into the drain line in the floor with the least amount of resistance possible.

I've had fantastic luck recently with Kohler toilets. In fact, I gave one to a friend here in my town that had a chronic clogging problem. She reported that once the new Kohler toilet was installed, the clogs went away. After she told me the brand of her old toilet, I knew immediately what the problem was. That particular brand had a design defect in the colon where just before the waste exits the base of the toilet, it makes a harsh 90-degree bend. That's bad jujumagumbo only solved with a plunger. You'll find Kohler toilets in my new home here in New Hampshire.

Latest Columns

Have you ever used a sanding block? If not, try one.

Window seats rule the world. Don't believe me? Look at the one I built in a day.

Do you have a pocket hole? No, not a hole in your pocket! See how cool these are!

Click here to read past copies of my newsletters.



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