Our roundup of the latest ceilings, wall-framing, and wall-finishing products includes a new and improved plaster binder, formaldehyde-free and antimicrobial ceiling panels, a FSC-certified bamboo panel system, a vaulted ceiling daylighting system, and other interior solutions. ' Rita Catinella Orrell

Prefab shear panels gathering more attention
The prefabricated Trus-Joist TJ-Shear Panels from iLevel resist lateral loads from earthquakes and hurricanes, and offer design flexibility for walls with many windows and doors. While the panels have been on the market for several years in California, Washington, Baltimore, and elsewhere, they are now available nationwide and throughout Canada.

According to T-Shear Panel product manager Jay Shansby, a moving demo showcasing the panel’s strength garnered a great deal of attention at this year’s Builders’ Show. “It got a lot of folks starting to talk about the need for lateral bracing in markets we are aware of, or [markets that are] new to us,” says Shansby. According to Shansby, forces driving demand include recent code changes in states in “Hurricane Alley” as well as shrinking lot sizes, which lead to building taller and narrower structures, increasing the weight to the wall lines.

Traditionally, shear walls were built on-site, a time-consuming process with unpredictable performance results. According to iLevel, the TJ-Shear Panel provides a more consistent performance under lateral loads, and the one-piece construction can be installed by one person. Made from TimberStrand laminated-strand lumber (LSL) through a process that minimizes waste, the panels come in a range of widths and heights, and can resist bowing, shrinking, and twisting. The panels mount to the foundation slab or stem wall with only two nuts and two washers. Lag screw holes for connection to the framing top plate are predrilled at an angle for easy access. The panel is also predrilled for electrical wires, helping installers save time and eliminate guesswork. A symmetrical panel design, concentric hold-downs, and double-shear nail connections also add strength to framing areas in the home susceptible to high lateral loads, including garage doors, window walls, and door openings.

A new manufacturing plant in Chino, California, will start producing panels to help meet demand this month. iLevel by Weyerhaeuser, Federal Way, Wash.


VOC-free plaster binder

Mud Glue is a natural, cost-effective, zero-VOC dry-powder-binder alternative to the soy-resin acrylic Add Mix or Sanded Primer normally added to American Clay Earth Plaster’s application systems. Mud Glue helps bind Earth Clay plasters to high gloss paint, dry wall, gypsum, portland cement products, and other finishes. It also inhibits mold growth, reduces the amount of water required for mixing, adds impact-resistance to the top coat, and is cheaper to ship due to reduced weight. American Clay Plaster, Albuquerque. www.americanclay.com


Ceiling fans

To increase the acoustical properties of the interior spaces of Chicago’s Sears Centre Arena, the design-build firm Ryan Companies specified Hunter Douglas Contract’s Orchard Wood Ceiling and Luxalon Metal Ceilings lines. In the bar area near the luxury suites, the Orchard Collection was installed to provide a warm, handwrought ambience. This collection is a metal-backed, wood-veneered range durable enough to resist the wear, tear, and spills of thousands of patrons each season. Hunter Douglas Contract, Poway, Calif. www.hunterdouglascontract.com