Brand and Tool Reviews

Chris and I are very brand loyal. We LOVE good customer service, we are beyond appreciative of well made products, and we try and support things that are made in the United States. Here is a list of brands we use or have used and what we think of them (no company paid, asked or comped us). And remember, these are just our opinions, we're not professionals or anything.

American Standard - B+
We use the Cadet 3 1.28 toilet and LOVE it. It's super low flow, but (TMI) always flushes everything down. We'll put the Champion 4 in the back bathroom (1.6 gallons instead of 1.28 and we need a bit more power for the back of the house). Our kitchen faucet is a little flimsy at the base, but we're happy overall (we thought something was wrong with the cartridge, but we actually installed it wrong, and they sent a replacement free of charge). Some of their products might not look as pretty as other brands, but they're great quality and have excellent customer service.

Behr - C
Not impressed. Lowest level of paint we would use in our house. Good service life on an easy, simple surface in good condition, but won't solve any problems for you. Ultra is a lie, you still always need 2 coats.

Bosch - A
Solid tools, they have a lot of corded tools, they're very reliable overall, they make some stuff in China (boo), but also have European and North American sourced products. We've never been dissatisfied.
What we have: table saw, router table, roto hammer, hammer drill, dishwasher, jigsaw (considered one of the best on the market), bulldog roto hammer, colt trim router

Bostitch - B+
Solid pneumatic tools
What we've got: finish nailer, pin nailer, palm nailer

Channellock - A+
Famous for the blue handle. Made in America. Buy it once and you never have to buy it again. Considered to be an heirloom quality tool.
What we've got: various pliers and hand tools

Craftsman - A+
Really good hand tools and a lifetime warranty on most hand tools. Not as good as Snap-On (professional grade0 but unless you're a car mechanic you don't need Snap-On really. Extremely good value and warranty.
What we've got: socket wrench set, chisels, tool boxes, lawn mower, various small hand tools.

Cutler Hammer - B
Good tech support, good value products, easy to find switches and circuit breakers.
What we've got: 3 electrical panels and assorted breakers

Dewalt - B+
Good entry level power tool. Some are better than others. They have some tools that are misses (cordless drill) and in general people as a company are starting to grade them down, but we're happy with what we have. The paddle mixing drill has a great reputation and we've really liked it. Their tile saw is their most highly regarded power tool and is professional grade. Everyone grades new tile saws against this one because it's a super great product for the money (we have loved ours)
We've got: tile saw, bench planer, 5" low profile orbital sander

Fabulon - we'll see
We used this poly in our front room after we weren't thrilled by Minwax's oil-based poly we used in the kitchen. Seemed to go on well, the coverage is good, but as we only just put in on in January 2012 we have yet to see how well it holds up to traffic.

Festool - A+
Chris has their vacuum, track saw, plunge router, and a few systainers/sortainers. They make excellent stuff that is well thought out and very useful. They're really expensive, but it's one of those cases where you really are buying quality.

GE - B
Been okay, but we don't have enough real experience to judge them so we've got a pretty standard experience.
What we've got: stove (some burners are a little underpowered, but you got what you pay for and we didn't spend a ton of money)

Glidden - B
A step up from Behr. Heard rumors that Glidden at their store is different than Glidden at Home Depot, but we haven't searched out the answer.

Husky - C
Not as good as Werner for ladders and for other industry standard tools (air and hand). They're adequate for a home owner considering it's a Home Depot brand (and of course, everything is made in China)

Irwin - B
Adequate, good throw away. Won't be super good quality but they also don't cost a lot.
What we've got: clamps and drill bits

Kenmore - B+
Reliable store brand appliances, fair prices.
What we've got: washer/dryer pair (front loaded washer) and a grill.

Kohler - B
Our main bath sink faucet has been awesome and has no problems. The kitchen faucet was a bitch to install and the customer service left something to be desired when we called to ask a few questions. Overall their products tend to look a bit nicer.

Makita - A-
Supposedly one of the most Amiercan-made tool brands nowadays, despite being Japanese owned. Haven't had any problems (but Meryl prefers the Milwaukee drills and impact drivers). They don't make as many tools as Bosch and Milwaukee (Corded drill? Table saw?). Also, they tend to be a bit more expensive.
We have: air compressor, drill, impact driver, work light, finish sander.

Martha Stewart - B
Our carpet looks nice, but it doesn't seem to be super durable. She's got good paint colors, but we always color match for Glidden, so I'm not sure about the paint quality.

Maytag - D
We only have a fridge of theirs and we've been super unimpressed. It's got good storage, but it tends to be noisy and leaks water out of the front from time to time. We called the manufacturer and the leaking of course started happening after we'd owned it for 16 months, so it's past the warranty. Lame.

Milwaukee - B/B-
They're a good brand, but starting to dilute with Chinese products. They're owned by a large company now. The tools are fairly reliable and many of the tools we've had break have fallen under the warranty. Although recently 2 batteries weren't charging all the way up and so we took them in and apparently the 5 year battery warranty is prorated and so it's only free replacement for 2 years. We've had our batteries for 3 years, so we had to pay to get them replaced. Not a huge deal, but kinda lame that they don't mention that anywhere (we looked over all the manual and product info when the new batteries came and all it said was "5 Year Warranty,") They used to be a professional grade toolmaker and now we find it a bit worrisome with all the Chinese imports.
We've got a lot: drill, impact driver, work light, cordless circular saw, reciprocating saw, right angle drill, magnum drill, work radio, vacuum, framing nailer, crown stapler, inspection camera (pretty cool)

Minwax - C
Industry standard for floor stain and poly but we've been really disappointed in the poly we used for our kitchen (oil based) as it scratches very easily, but we've had good results with other poly products of theirs. Stains are good quality.

Porter Cable - Routers are A's, but everything else has fallen off
Used to be one of the best American brands, but it seems like more stuff has been geared to a homeowner instead of an avid DIYer or a professional.
We've got: 3 1/4 horsepower router

Rigid - B
Supposedly have a lifetime warranty that doesn't cover as much of the tool as you would like. Really good value. Their hand digging tools are solid, the plumbing tools are an industry standard. The power tools are a good value but maybe not as well regarded, but at the same time, we've never had a problem with them.
What we've got: miter saw, orbital sander, corded vacuum, shovel.

Ryobi - D+
Really entry level kind of tool, fine for the occasional user, but we wouldn't recommend it. They're what we got started with, but then we learned there was a lot better stuff out there.
What we've got: router and orbital sander (loud and rough, they more or less work but they're not smooth, quiet, or durable)

Sherwin-Williams - A
Covers well and the elastomeric really actually helps conceal cracks. Our house is off white so dirt obviously shows very easily and sometimes we have trouble washing it off (but we probably should have gone with a higher sheen).

Simpson - A
Industry standard. They pretty much have a monopoly over the market so they can price whatever they want, but being in Earthquake country we absolutely need their products. We use a lot of their hardware (hangers, braces, etc.) Anything to strengthen wood/wood or wood/concrete connection, they have it and nowadays it seems like you can't build a house without them. We only wish there was more competition for this kind of product.

Square D - B
Panels are more solid and better laid out. We don't have anything of theirs, but Chris helped install a panel of theirs at a friend's house.

Zar - A
We used their oil-based stain for the front room (and will use it on the rest of the house) after we weren't super thrilled with Varathane. The coverage is AMAZING and the color is really saturated. Good stuff.

Chris is a total tool junkie, here are some of his reviews on Tools

Barwalt Tile Trowels
Tacwise Staple Guns
Chris' quest for the best bit holder