Fast Frame

Steve George used to frame arches for his projects on site, but he got tired of the constant shape and size inconsistencies. A custom-designed, preformed arch was what he needed, so the remodeler tried The Fast Arch System.

"The Fast Arch comes pre-made and can be installed in a much shorter time than [when] fabricating the arch framing on the jobsite," George says. "And it makes a symmetrical arch." The manufacturer offers several arch styles, including flat, ellipse, and "zip" (partial pieces). Fast Arch also offers radius stud tracks, groin ceiling forms, and barrel and dome ceiling forms.

Even though Fast Arch customizes the arches to the contractor's specs for each application, turnaround time is generally fast, George says. The real benefit comes from the time he saves while still being able to deliver a quality arch. "Since we've been using the product, we've cut labor costs and improved our quality in creating arches," he says.

Remodeler: Steve George

Company: Authentic Construction, St. Paul, Minn.

Product: The Fast Arch System, by Fast Arch,

Hail Beater

Remodeler Dean Williams installs siding in Minnesota's "hail belt," where most homeowners opt for steel siding because it can stand up to hail's impact. But Williams manages to sell vinyl when he offers his clients Norandex's Polar Wall Plus! insulated vinyl siding.

Polar Wall's Fullback contoured polystyrene foam backing gives the product nearly three times the impact resistance of unbacked vinyl siding, according to the maker. The siding will resist hits of 235 pounds per inch, and because of its reverse rolled-over nail hem, it won't blow off in wind speeds of more than 200 mph.

Williams says his clients like the solid-backed vinyl because there's no give when pressure is applied and because the foam absorbs sound and makes walls quieter. The impact resistance is the big selling point with his clients, though.

Courtesy Norandex

Polar Wall Plus! is available in a double 4-inch clapboard and a double 5-inch Dutch lap, both with a low-gloss, light cedar "wood-grain" finish in several colors.

Remodeler: Dean Williams

Company: Quality Home Improvement of Le Sueur, Le Sueur, Minn.

Product: Norandex Polar Wall Plus! insulated vinyl siding,

Turned on by Xenon

Daphne Carroll keeps busy designing and remodeling kitchens and baths for her clients, but she still wants to take the time to get all the details right. The remodeler tried several halogen and fluorescent under-cabinet strip lights for kitchen task lighting but felt that neither lamp type provided the best option.

Then she tried Alico's ZeeLights -- xenon-lamped strip lights -- and was hooked. Xenon lamps generate 35% less heat than halogen lamps, provide white light in an even distribution, and have an average rated life span of 10,000 hours. "They reflect off the countertop, but they look more natural and less glaring than fluorescent," Carroll says. "It's a softer light. And ... the xenon lamps don't alter the color of the counters."

ZeeLights are fully dimmable and feature a high/off/low Euro-style rocker switch. They're designed to be hardwired into a room's electrical supply but can also be converted to use plugs. Available in four sizes, the housings can be speced in four colors.

Courtesy Alico Industries

Remodeler: Daphne Carroll

Company: Renewed By Design, Atlanta

Product: ZeeLights under-cabinet lighting, by Alico Industries,