Since I made the decision to use only items made here in the U.S. as much as possible, my progress has been a little slow because I do a lot of searching online for things. And, since I’m doing the work myself, I spend a lot of time watching “how-to” YouTube videos and then thinking through things.
For example, I taught myself how to fix drywall cracks. The process is actually pretty simple. The trick, however, is learning how to *smoothly* apply the mud at the ceiling and corner seams. I learned a great deal of patience that day. 😮
Making the repairs meant I had to purchase of number of materials and tools; learning where products come from and who makes what has been a good learning experience. I’ve learned that Elmer’s Wood Glue is made in the U.S. and that materials such as baseboard do have labels that give country of origin.
What follows is a brief run down of a few of the items purchased and where they came from.
ADFORS® Drywall Joint Tape
ADFORS, which operates in 65 countries and has 13 manufacturing plants around the world, is the manufacturer of this drywall joint tape. As you can see on the product label in the lower right corner, the tape was made in the U.S.
USG All Purpose Joint Compound
Reading the fine print on the product label didn’t tell me if the compound was made in the U.S. (although the packaging was). Even the website doesn’t say for certain. The US-based company, which has been in business since 1902, has 34 manufacturing locations in the U.S., so I’m assuming the compound was made here.
Based on my own experience of reading the labels on everything, it’s very hard these days to find tools made in the U.S. For example, I couldn’t find a U.S.-made mitre box in any local store, so I asked my friend’s husband, who did own one, to cut baseboard for me.
However, Home Depot does carry the Wal-board line of tools and surprisingly, some are U.S. made. You have to read the labels carefully, though.
The mud knife I used, for example, was made in China. The utility knife, with its rugged metal casing (see photo at the top), was made in the U.S. The company, based in Long Beach, CA, was founded in 1946. It appears to be family-owned still.
(As an aside, for a company selling through Home Depot, it could sure use a new website. Zowie!)
I also lucked out and found a line of beautifully made paint brushes by Corona Brushes, Inc. While much more expensive than the throw-aways I used to buy, these brushes paint like a dream. Well worth the investment. The company, which started as a family-owned enterprise, is based in Tampa, FL.
(Corona is another company that could use help with its website. Painful!)
And finally, I found this awesome paint roller cover made in the USA! This thing has been a real money saver. Don’t know how I painted without it.
Buying U.S.-made means jobs
One thing I’ve learned, through my work with small, family-owned manufacturers and jobs shops, is that when you buy American, you’re often supporting countless supply chains. This support is a big deal because our supply chains are comprised of thousands of small and mid-sized companies. When they disappear, so do jobs and local communities as well.
Small manufacturers and job shops often make the materials that comprise larger products or provide intermediate steps in the production process. These companies run on tight deadlines and work hard to provide innovation and highest quality-control to their customers. Landing a job from a “big fish” concern is often the difference of pennies per part or unit. Innovation and process efficiencies are key.
These small manufacturers and job shops are the businesses that hire people like you and me. This is why I buy American. Because when I walk into a job shop and hear the owner tell me he/she has 20 or 30 people working for the company, I know it’s much more than providing a job. The owners of these companies provide livelihoods to *families,* which in turn help people live more prosperous lives. I hope you’ll join me in that vision and consider buying U.S.-made products whenever possible.
Next up: Slant/Fin Baseboard Heater Cover
Now that my drywall is repaired and painted, my next big project is to replace the baseboard heater cover. According to the YouTube videos I’ve watched, this is supposedly a relatively easy project.
I’ve already researched the replacement cover and will be using Slant/Fin. The company, founded in 1949 by Mel Dubin (who passed away in 2015), still manufactures its line of products here in the U.S.
I’ve really enjoyed my “Made in the U.S.” living room renovation thus far. I’ve learned quite a bit, and each time I tackle something new, whether it’s finding the studs so that I can nail in my new baseboard, to figuring out the best way to clean soot off the fireplace brick (lots of scrubbing with Dawn dish detergent), I feel proud and capable.
So much so, I’m seriously considering *really* big DIY projects, such as replacing the tired linoleum in the kitchen and refinishing my hardwood floors.
Are you a DIYer? When you purchase materials or tools, do you make an effort to buy products made in the U.S.? Please share your stories — I’d love to hear them.