AFTER THE FOUNDATION, STRUCTURAL support products such as panels and joists are the most important elements of a house, and for obvious reasons: Even a perfectly installed roof will prove ineffective if the rafters are inadequate. To help ensure that the supports do their job well, some manufacturers of structural elements are beginning to modify their products to make it easier for the builder to install them correctly.


A variety of BCI joists have undergone changes that make them easier to work with, the company says. The BCI 600 1.7, which replaces the 500, has a wider flange that makes it easier for installers to hold, and the additional space makes nailing faster and more accurate. Moreover, the manufacturer says the new product offers increased performance at no extra cost. Boise Building Solutions. 208-384-6161.

One example of such a labor-saving innovation is The Grid Panel System by Alexandria, La.–based Martco. The manufacturer's OSB structural panels come with incremental measurements stamped on the surface to save time during installation. Instead of taking measurements and snapping chalk lines, builders can use the grid. The company says the product simplifies cutting and increases nailing accuracy.


Because 10-foot-high (and more) ceilings are increasing in popularity, the manufacturer is touting its TimberStrand and Parallam products as a way to eliminate the instability that could result from normal “tall wall” construction. Engineered for walls up to 30 feet in height, the products help build straight walls that will stay straight and deliver predictable performance, the company says. In addition, the systems help builders avoid over- or under-building tall walls. Trus Joist. 800-628-3997.

Even seemingly simple product modifications can translate into big benefits on a jobsite. The slight change that Boise, Idaho–based Boise Building Solutions made to some of its BCI joists for 2005 is one such modification: The new joists have wider flanges.

The result? “Our new wide-flange BCI joist products provide a half-inch increase in flange width and improved performance over the joists they replace, at the same price,” says Denny Huston, the company's sales and marketing manager for engineered wood products. “The wider nailing surface is preferred by builders for ease of assembly.” The wider surface also means faster and more accurate nailing, the company adds.


The Grid OSB panels have markings every 1/8 and ¼ of an inch around the perimeter, 1-inch squares across the entire panel, and cross-hairs in the middle of each square. The result, says the company, are panels that are easier to install. In addition, the company says, the products save time on the jobsite and increase nailing accuracy. Martco. 800-299-5174.

Some new products offer innovation in design as well as in installation. Easy Riser, from Grand Rapids, Mich.–based Universal Forest Products, provides both. An engineered system, Easy Riser is a pre-notched, adjustable, 13-step stair stringer system that attaches to standard lumber. The company says it simplifies stair building and also minimizes waste. Stair building may never be the same.


The Easy Riser engineered stair stringer system consists of pre-notched adjustable stringers that attach to standard lumber. The company says it is structurally stronger than conventional stairways because there are at least 5 ½ inches of wood for support at the riser point. In addition, it simplifies stair construction, minimizes deflection, and limits waste, the company notes. Universal Forest Products. 800-488-5385.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog, at or

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Boise City, ID.