New: Products of the Week, 7.23.14

This week’s picks: Modern outdoor light fixtures, corner windows, an impact wrench, handcrafted tiles, and flowing kitchen faucets.

Kichler Rosewell outdoor sconce

The Rosewell outdoor wall sconce from Kichler offers a modern shape with a rustic Olde Bronze finish. The inside of each fixture is brushed with shimmering gold paint to create a subtle, soft contemporary look. Two sizes are available.

Kolbe_Vista Luxe 90-degree window

New to Kolbe’s VistaLuxe collection of contemporary wood windows, which utilize multiple units to create large expanses of glass, this 90-degree corner direct-set window appears to transcend structural boundaries, opening up the home to even more expansive views. The windows feature a wood interior in a choice of species and an aluminum-clad exterior available in standard, custom, and new mica colors. Several profiles and a range of glass options are available.

Porter-Cable PCE210_2 Impact Wrench

Porter-Cable’s new 7.5-amp, ½-inch impact wrench combines performance and value, boasting a price point below $120 while offering 240-foot-pounds of torque, 2,700 impacts-per-minute, and up to 2,200 rpm. The tool’s forward/reverse rocker trigger switch offers easy transitioning between fastening and loosening applications. Other features include a cast metal gear housing to help dissipate heat buildup, a hog ring anvil for easy accessory changing, an ergonomic soft-grip handle, and a compact size.

Handpainted Fireclay Tile_3

Handpainted Collections artisanal tiles from Fireclay Tile include the Contemporary, Moroccan, and Mediterranean lines boasting modern aesthetics, sophisticated textures, and pure finishes. The tiles, which are handcrafted in California, come in 8-inch-by-8-inch and 6-inch-by-12-inch formats for a range of applications.

Graff Bollero Bar Faucet
Bollero kitchen and bar faucets, new from Graff, feature unique, flowing lines and a swiveling spout. The faucets come in polished chrome, silver nickel, olive bronze, and polished nickel finishes. All of the units operate at 1.8 gpm and have a dual spray/stream; the kitchen models include a pull-down sprayhead.

Buzz: Product News Roundup, Uniqueness Underfoot Edition

Creative floor tile layouts, luxurious ceilings, Lego-style concrete blocks, and more product news from the past week.

Faro tiles from Beaumont.

Faro tiles from Beaumont.

12 creative floor tile designs.

• Tensile strength stronger than steel? Slow burning? Could bamboo be the next big building material?

• From domes to barrel vaults to wood beams, here are 5 uber-luxe ways to dress up a ceiling.

• A British firm wants to simplify the way we install concrete with blocks that emulate Lego. The real question is: Will they still hurt like mad when you step on them in the middle of the night?

• How it’s made: A day in the life of a paint factory.

• Ductless mini-split air conditioners are an efficient alternative to central AC. But they can be a bit of an eyesore. Here are 10 tips to better integrate these units into a design.

• Finally, hand tools and grout are in the pop culture spotlight, thanks to Weird Al Yankovic and his rap parody “Handy.”

How to use cloud computing to stay better connected on the jobsite.


In Practice: Reclaimed Wood Offers Rustic Touch to Urban Distillery

The centerpiece of the Westland Distillery in downtown Seattle isn’t just the single-malt whiskey, it’s the gleaming, colossal copper and stainless steel stills. Unfortunately, local regulations requiring a two-hour fire enclosure didn’t permit the owners to showcase the equipment front and center in the tasting room like it so richly deserves.

The architects at Urbanadd created a two-hour enclosure using metal studs, drywall, wood sheathing, and randomly interspersed panels of two-hour fire-resistant glass, thereby meeting the dueling needs of both safety and spectacle.

westland distillery

To ensure the enclosure itself didn’t look out of place nor take away from the vibe of the space, an early 1900s warehouse that thoughtfully melds both wood and industrial steel elements, the choice of façade material was also vital. The team opted for reclaimed timber, which they acquired from the teardown of an old Boise Cascade mill in nearby Yakima, Wash.

A local woodworker cut the 6-inch-by-12-inch beams in half, sanding down the cut side while leaving the raw side untouched to create a unique patchwork of smooth and worn. The robust timbers and rugged edges are the ideal complement to the hefty wood beams throughout the building as well as to the reception desk in front, which is crafted of a massive steel beam with a wood top.

westland distillery2

New: Products of the Week, 7.14.14

This week’s picks: An elegant kitchen faucet, jobsite-tough tech bags, a compact bath vessel, robust 5.0-Ah batteries, and wood-look fiber cement siding

Hansgrohe Metris Kitchen Faucet

The Metris kitchen faucet from Hansgrohe is a study in subtle contrasts, with a gently rounded square base tapering into a pyramid from which the gently curving body arcs high and out into a circular spout; the single lever handle similarly moves from sharper angles into a gentle curve. The extended spout surface offers ample contact areas for hands and fingers for easy operation and temperature adjustment. The pull-out spray features two spray options and a MagFit holder for a secure fit; an outward extension ensures plenty of hose length.

Klein Tools Tech Bags

Part of Klein Tools‘ Tradesman Pro Organizers line, these new tech bags are designed for building pros who need to carry laptops, tablets, and other gadgets on the jobsite, combining protective materials and features with a variety of smart storage. The Tech Backpack features 25 pockets, including a hard, molded front pocket for safety glasses, and a durable molded bottom. The Tech Bag boasts 22 pockets, including a zipper pocket for files, and protective guards and water-resistant bottom. Smartphone and Meter cases also are available.

Victoria + Albert Maru 42

Inspired by the Japanese word for “circle,” the Maru 42 basin offers a “perfectcircular” shape that is beautiful and sleek in its simplicity. Its compact design is ideal for his-and-hers bathrooms, powder rooms, or other space-challenged areas; yet despite its small stature, the Maru 42 is Victoria + Albert’s deepest basin—at 7 inches—and has the thickest rim at 1 inch. The sink can be used for freestanding or semi-recessed applications. The seamless unit is made with Englishcast, comprised of finely ground volcanic limestone and resin.

Bosch BAT621 5.0-Ah battery

Bosch now offers a 5.0-amp-hour battery for its 18-volt lithium-ion cordless power tools, offering contractors greater runtime and better tool performance. The BAT621 is identical in size and weight to the company’s 4.0- and 3.0-Ah batteries, yet is the lightest, most compact, and longest-running FatPack-style battery on the market, the company says. The battery’s CoolPack heat-conductive housing helps keep internal temperatures lower, allowing for up to 100 times longer recharge life.

Nichiha Sierra Premium Shake fiber cement siding

Nichiha’s* newly enhanced Sierra Premium Shake fiber cement siding features a rich, variegated look, with deeply defined grooves and keyways. Its ½-inch thickness also provides for the depth and shadows of real wood. The siding features a machine-applied Duracolor ST Semi-Transparent Finish that delivers enhanced pigments for long-lasting color, increased durability, and consistency. Terra, Hazelnut, and Shadow hues are available.


*Nichiha is a client of this blog’s parent company.

Buzz: Product News Roundup, Red-White-and-Blue Edition

American-made products, wooden light bulbs, meteorological pendants, and other product news from the past week.

Wolf Range• July 4th got you feeling patriotic? Several publications were feeling that way too last week, publishing lists of Made in the USA products for your viewing pleasure:

• You shouldn’t take wooden nickels, but perhaps a wooden light bulb? A Japanese designer has created one out of pine veneer–for the bargain price of $2,700 (that’s a lot of nickels).

• Giving new meaning to the concept of bringing the outdoors in, the Cloud pendant light provides the audio-visual sensation of a thunderstorm.

• Americans are cutting the cord in droves. New research shows that 41% of households now use only wireless phones.

• In the wake of the innovative Nest, major manufacturers are following suit with smart thermostats of their own. A Wall Street Journal reporter puts them to the test.

• Everything you every wanted to know about log homes in one handy infographic.

• Good news: Builders are paying closer attention to the building envelope. Research from Professional Builder outlines the performance-enhancing products and methods they’re investing in most.

30 splashy kitchen backsplashes.

• Bored of glass and metal, a Harvard student invented way to weave facades out of clay. It looks like macramé, but it’s still pretty nifty.


Buzz: Product News Roundup, Hardware Everywhere Edition

New products from the National Hardware Show, burning appliance questions, jaw-dropping showers, and more product news from the past week.

Triton• 9 cool tools from the Hardware Show, including a snazzy folding utility knife and several burly demo bars.

• The Money Pit hosts also offered up their favorite finds from the show, including a smarter sump pump and a DIY-friendly laser distance meter.

• 7 products to please (and warm and relax) the mom of the house.

• Germaphobes rejoice! Kohler unveils a touch-free toilet that flushes with the wave of a hand.

• Norwegian project sets out to become the world’s tallest timber building at 14 stories.

• 11 natural boundaries that offer an alternative to fences.

• 10 walk-in showers that will make you forget about the bathtub.

• Does expensive really mean better? How high should the range hood be? A professional cook answers homeowners’ burning appliance questions.

• From single bowls to high-tech faucets, here’s a look at the latest trends in kitchen water stations.

• Tech startup Chui is upping the home-security ante with a doorbell unit with built-in facial recognition.


New: Kohler Brings Touch-Free Operation to Toilet Flushing

Kohler Touchless ToiletElectronic, hands-free, touch-free technologies have already been migrating steadily from airports and other commercial spaces to the home, with numerous kitchen and bath faucets that operate by touch or by sensor. Now, Kohler has taken the concept even further, with the introduction of the Touchless Toilet.

Instead of a traditional lever handle (or high-end push button), the new technology has a sensor in the tank; wave your hand over the sensor to activate the flush. According to the company, the sensor projects an electromagnetic field that is more accurate and reliable than technologies that rely on breaking a beam of light.

The device operates on four AA batteries that should last from six to 12 months.

Touchless Toilet technology is available on new Cimarron or San Souci toilets or can be ordered as a retrofit kit that will work on nearly all single-flush toilets with a canister or flapper-style flush mechanism.