The seventh annual Solid Surface International Expo, held this past March in Las Vegas, featured a number of innovative new products of interest to fabricators working with both solid surface and engineered stone materials. As I walked around the exhibit hall, a number of clever ideas caught my eye.
Lumicor is a translucent sheet product that embeds textiles, papers, metals, natural foliage and wood veneers for a distinctive and innovative look. High performance resins including acrylics and PETG are used, and the product is available in nine thicknesses ranging from 1/16" to 1". Many architectural applications including countertops are possible. Contact Lumicor at 425-255-4000 or go to www.lumicor.com for more information.
Formica Solid Surfacing is offering the V075 vanity bowl in the Nickel color option. Although made of solid surface material, the bowl appears to be made of metal, resulting in a look comparable to an undermounted stainless steel sink, but with a seamless, sanitary connection to the countertop. Formica describes the material as "a unique combination of real metal and solid surface polymers that provides an authentic metal aesthetic with all the benefits of solid surface." Contact Formica at 1-800-FORMICA or go to www.formica.com.
Tower Industries has introduced Lumistone, an acrylic solid surface material that glows in the dark. Under normal lighting, the product is neutral white in color. In darkness, the product glows, either in a vibrant blue color or in an optional yellow-green color. The product is available in sheets, in three different vanity bowl shapes, and in seam adhesive form, which can be used for glowing inlays. Contact Tower Industries at 800-807-8889.
Red Devil offers the Create-A-Color system, which allows anyone
to mix custom colors by blending in ordinary latex paint with its
special caulk base. The result is high-performance caulk in any
color. The caulk can be dispensed with a standard caulking gun.
Contact Red Devil at 800-423-3845 or go to www.reddevil.com.
For years, I have been wary of attempts to retrofit coved splashes onto solid surface countertops after they have already been installed. Ramiro Martinez of Formline Solid Surfacing has been trying to convince me that my concerns were unfounded, and has now succeeded.
At the Las Vegas show, he demonstrated his Romy Coving Shaper & Sander and Romy Coving Clamps designed for that purpose. The Coving Shaper & Sander is billed as the first electric sander made specifically for sanding coved corners, and features a special foam pad that conforms to the shape of the cove. The Romy product line is marketed through Specialtytools.com. Visit the Web site or call 800-669-5519.
Specialtytools.com has another interesting product called Templast, which is a transparent corrugated plastic sheet intended to be used for templates. You can write on this product with a marking pen, and it cuts easily with a razor knife, making it possible to scribe to wall irregularities. It can be bonded with hot melt adhesive. Once a template is completed, it can be scored and folded up for transport. Visit the Specialty tools.com Web site or call 800-669-5519 for more information.
When I visited the Betterley Industries booth, I was saddened to hear that Art Betterley, a true industry pioneer, passed away last year. However, the company continues under the leadership of its new owner, Tom Stoffel.
Production shops will be interested in the firm's latest product, the Air Glide Router Base, which uses compressed air to float a router smoothly and effortlessly over the surface of a countertop. Intended to speed routing operations and eliminate scratches caused by grit between the router base and the countertop surface, the base is available to fit various models of routers offered by Porter-Cable, Bosch and Makita. Contact Betterley Enterprises at 800-871-3425, and look for its new Web site soon.
Wesley Tools is offering a new type of decorative router bit
that does two things in a single pass: It flush trims a solid
surface undermount sink installation, and also puts a decorative
edge profile around the sink cutout. The bits are available in four
decorative profiles and are paired with matching edge profile bits
so that you can offer a coordinated look from the sink edge to the
countertop edge. Call Wesley Tools at 800-397-6867, or order online
Three years ago, I learned about a product called ZipWall, and started using it in my own business. ZipWall is a set of telescoping, twist-lock, spring-loaded poles that enable installers to set up a dust barrier around a work area in less than five minutes. Using transparent drop cloth material, this enclosure will contain the vast majority of construction dust.
The company has now introduced a new line of Tight-Seal
accessories to provide the very highest level of jobsite dust
control. The innovation is based on the Foam Rail, a five-foot
aluminum bar with a soft, spongy edge. A ZipWall pole is used to
press the Foam Rail and the plastic drop cloth against the ceiling.
The Side Clamp accessory attaches to a pole, and in conjunction
with a Foam Rail, presses the drop cloth to the wall surfaces.
at 800-718-2255 or go to www.zipwall.com for more information.
Turn The Corner, LLC has developed and patented a clever variation on the "lazy susan" turntable, called the Crazy Suzy shelf. Using hypocycloid technology, the three-cornered shelf rotates in an eccentric fashion that allows the shelf corners to project out of a corner cabinet, but pass by the back walls without touching. Usable storage area is increased by 44" as compared to a round shelf. The units are available with laminate shelves. However, solid surface fabricators can purchase the hardware at a significant savings, with a license to fabricate their own solid surface shelf. Contact Turn The Corner, LLC at 800-890-7812 or go to www.turnthecornerllc.com.