Durable Things I Love

by Sandy L on September 6, 2010

When we bought our house in 2000, our friends got together and bought us a Weber Grill. We entertained a lot back then. Our friend Mike put on his brass knuckles and told people “you know you’re going to benefit from this contribution, so get that wallet out.”  I’m happy to report that he was not wrong.   Anyway, 10 years later, our grill cover is tattered, our grates are rusted and the grill has several hot spots.

It’s the end of the season so I thought I’d look out for some deals. I went on Amazon and indeed found the flavorizer bars, the grates and cover for sale.  When I looked in the shopping cart it tallied to $150, ouch. It will eventually need some other parts, burner tubes, igniter, etc, so I checked the price of a new grill, as this one was in the $400 range at the time we got it. Wow it’s now $700.  Repair wins the repair vs replace battle hands down.

So that got me thinking about how many things I’ve bought since I graduated college that actually last a long time, but first a Babci quote.

Babci says “Cheap things are expensive.”

In other words, it’s better to buy a quality item that lasts instead of buying a flimsy item that will break or wear out before the end of it’s useful life. I have to agree with Babci on everything except electronics. Technology is changing too quickly with electronics, so we opt for the lower end options there. I hate shopping, so the less often I have to do it, the better.  In general, I’ve been disappointed with how things don’t last as long these days, so I thought I’d remind myself of the things I bought either when I got out of college (15 years ago) or bought my house (10 years ago) that are still going strong.

  • Weber Grill - This grill looks practically brand new. I’ve had it 10 years and it just now needs a little TLC.
  • Rubbermaid Garbage Cans – I negotiated them in with my house in 2000 and they are still as tough as ever. I’m not sure of their age as they were already used when I bought them.
  • Towels - I swear these last forever. My husband has beach towels that are almost 30 years old. If you ever wonder if you should spend an extra $5 on the towel you really want, do it because you’ll have it forever.
  • LL Bean Flannel Sheets – We have 2 sets that are 15 years old that still haven’t pilled. We bought a couple of new sets for our kids. I was very disappointed when the new ones started to pill after one season. They have a great return policy..you can return anytime if you’re not satisfied, so I returned them and upgraded to the Deluxe Supima Flannel and it’s been great. I have to disclose though that I have a problem with fine bedding.
  • EMS Backpack – I bought a big camping pack for trekking across Europe 20 years ago. That thing has been so abused and on so many vacations, I can’t believe it’s still functional. I had to replace one buckle that a baggage claim ate, but apart from that, it’s still tip top. I can’t say the same of my rolling bags which I’m on my 3rd one.
  • Of the rolling bags I’ve had, the Samsonite one has by far lasted the longest. It’s almost 10 years old and the only thing that is wrong with it is the zipper pull fell off, but the zipper itself is still strong.   We travel a lot for work and for fun, so my rolling bag gets used at least 2x/month.  On other bags, I’ve had zippers break, bags tear, wheels fall off.  I also like that the handle is made for tall people. The other rolling bags I’ve had must be made for short people because I had to hunch way over to roll it.
  • REI Convertible Pants – I love these.  I live in them when I’m not at work and they’re great for hiking and travel too. They wash well, they dry fast and they are very comfy. They are cool enough to wear in the summer and protect you from mosquitoes. They are the best and I’ve had my last 2 pairs for over 10 years.
  • Speedo or LandsEnd Bathing Suits –  I thought I was nuts when I spent $85 on a bathing suit 15 years ago. I needed a one piece that didn’t give me a wedgie when diving. Speedo had long torso sizes which I needed. Up until then I wore cheap bikinis and they lasted 2-3 years max.  I just replaced my Speedo with a Lands End this year. I’ve heard similar things of that brand so I’m looking forward to another 15 years of durability and comfort.
  • Le Creuset Dutch Oven – I was lucky to buy my first one at a tag sale for $5. I’ve since bought 2 more. My mother in law has one that she still uses and it’s  44 years old.
  • Kitchen Aid Mixer – My mom bought this for herself and decided it was too heavy to lug around.  I now have it.  It’s 20 years old and still looks and runs like new.  It’s seen some crazy heavy doughs in it’s day and it’s never disappointed me.
  • Old Furniture - Most of the furniture in our house is over 100 years old. I heart dovetail drawers. It seems so much better made than the glued and plywood backed stuff that’s in the stores now.
  • Ball Canning Jars – Okay, these things must last forever. I have some that I know are over 50 years old because my aunt and uncle got them around the time they came to this country.

I haven’t received any money or freebies  for endorsing these brands. They are just items that I vouch for as high quality and worth the extra cost.

What items are in your house that are at least 10 years old and still going strong? I’d also like to know brands as I’m always looking to know what things last the test of time.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Reasons September 6, 2010 at 10:32 PM

Wow, what a great list!!! Our grill was a thermos, and it’s age really shows! Weber is definitely the way to go! My father-in-law bought one 7 year ago, and it still looks new…

Hmmm, what have I bought that is 10 years old and still works well… Our TV is over 10 years old, but is obsolete (it’s a crt tube based TV).

I have an antique desk that kicks butt, but it’s doesn’t have a brandname. I guess we really don’t have anything noteworthy that has a noteworthy brandname…

I agree with you 100% on electronics! I buy middle of the road computer while my buddy always bought state of the art computers. Every few years, I’d upgrade to a new computer system, and it would be faster than his old state of the art system. And the kicker was that he just used the computer to surf the web…

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The Lost Goat September 6, 2010 at 11:29 PM

I have a pair of LLBean hunting boots that I bought 10 years ago because they were lightweight and waterproof. They were ~ $350, which was, at the time, the most I had ever spent on any item of apparel. I bet I’ve worn them 1000 days so far, through snow and muck, and they are now the ugliest things you have ever seen, but remain lightweight and waterproof to this day.

The problem with electronics is that cost is no indicator of quality. They are all built in the same sort of fab / assembly line out of cheap, poorly-made materials. So no matter what you pay for them, they won’t last, so you might as well get the cheapest ones that meet your needs today, because the chances are good that it won’t be working in a couple of years, much less useful.

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Ted A. September 7, 2010 at 2:03 AM

A quick chime-in on the grill refurbishment. If you haven’t already, check out grillparts.com. Not sure how prices will compare, but much better that buying a whole new one (I refurbished our 10 year old Thermos this year with a new burner, electric starter, and grill racks. Looks, and works, as good as new).

As for quality stuff, my Vasque Sundowner hiking boots are worn, but still kicking butt after 10+ years. My wife’s Frigidaire washer/dryer set are still working after 20+ years.

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Money Beagle September 7, 2010 at 7:12 AM

My parents just gave us their ‘old’ Weber grill. They got it around 1987 or so. It needed some various new parts and my dad repainted most of the innards and the shelves, but it still runs pretty darn good for being almost 25 years old!

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Nicole September 7, 2010 at 8:29 AM

We’re about to buy our first grill and DH has narrowed it down to two Weber models. We were hoping to buy at the end of the season when prices dropped, but they haven’t dropped yet.

We also love our Le Crueset and my father had a set for many many decades. They replaced it no questions asked for free when the ceramic finally started popping off. The warranties aren’t quite as good on new le cruesets as they were 50 odd years ago though.

Our kitchenaid mixer died a year after we got it, so they sent us an upgrade that has been going strong for over 10 years.

Our Oster hand blender is over 10 years old.

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Everyday Tips September 7, 2010 at 8:42 AM

I am impressed you can wear the same bathing suit from 15 years ago. Mine would still be holding up too, because it wouldn’t fit and would just be sitting in a drawer!

I am actually happy with our Vermont Castings grill from Home Depot. We have had it 5 years now, and it is still going very strong.

My towels are shredding unfortunately, so I obviously bought the wrong kind.

The Mitsubishi big screen tv is about 8 years old and is still perfect.

My mom’s Ford Taurus is 11 years old and still seems to be working pretty well, although it does need the periodic repair.

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Molly On Money September 7, 2010 at 2:11 PM

My Merrill hiking boots are going strong after 7yrs – I hike at least 3x’s a week!
My Phaff sewing machine from the 50’s is the most amazing long lasting piece of machinary I’ve every own.

If you maintain most items you can add to their lifetime.
For example with my BBQ grills- I have all the tools within hands reach for our grill. I can do a quick clean up/maintenance in no time.

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Lola September 7, 2010 at 10:06 PM

I love Pyrex and Corelle dishes/bowls/bakeware. I got most of mine as wedding presents (coming up on 30 years ago), and the stuff is still great.

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Sandy L September 8, 2010 at 6:52 AM

Lola,
How can I forget Pyrex? They are some of my favorite yard sale finds. It’s actually cheaper to buy a pyrex plate at a yard sale than it is to get those disposable pie plates and we often bring pies over to folk’s houses.

Ted,
I have the sundowners too. I love them too. They’ve been on about as many trips as my backpack. Mine are about 15 years old but they definitely need to be replaced with a new pair. Do they still make sundowners?

Everyday Tips,
I wish I had the same figure as my just out of college self. I am way out of shape right now. I may fit in some of the same clothes, but they certainly aren’t as loose. If it weren’t for my water loving kids, there wouldn’t be too many people seeing me in my bathing suit. 2 ten pounders does some irreversible damage to your figure…plus I love to eat.

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Sandy L September 8, 2010 at 6:54 AM

Molly, babci’s favorite sewing machine (she has 4) was one that we found on the side of the road in the trash about 2 years ago. It’s about as old as yours and she loves it. The new ones definitely seem chintzier.

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Kevin@InvestItWisely September 9, 2010 at 11:57 AM

I love old furniture, but it’s so incredibly expensive to buy. The cheap IKEA stuff is good for apartment living, but it’s usually good for craigslist after only a few years..!

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Squirrelers September 9, 2010 at 11:57 PM

I was told when I was younger to be able to differentiate between quality and brand names. If you have to pay extra for good quality, it will pay dividends.

My folks have some living room tables that are in amazing shape, and they are about 40 years old. Yes, 40! They bought quality stuff, and it’s still in nice shape. It looks better than than the 8 year old stuff I have. Clearly, I didn’t listen to them in that case:) Of course, it also helps when you take great care of things – particularly if you do it as well as my folks do.

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101 Centavos December 21, 2010 at 10:02 PM

I’m with you on furniture. All our sofas are old pieces, with rock-solid frames, that have been re-upholstered. Sideboards, dressers, armoires, beds, are all vintage or antique, bought at yard sales or auctions. All are of much greater value than the flimsy “new” junk for sale these days.

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Sandy L December 22, 2010 at 6:13 AM

Yes I agree wholeheartedly on the furniture. I hate that places make it so disposable these days. It’s as if you don’t have a choice anymore. I even started looking at really expensive stuff just to see if it was well made. It would have dovetails, but it still had particle board backs. I mean would it really kill a company to use real wood on furniture?

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