12 Months: Anatomy of Work Jeans

Oh, the things these jeans have seen over the last year. They read like a road map from a place where I was sane, normal, and mostly-showered, right up to today where I am decidedly not. So I’m kicking off my week of nostalgia about the first twelve months of DIY house building by giving you a tour of my work jeans. Cause if that doesn’t set the tone for “crazy sawdust-inhaling garage dweller”, I don’t know what does.

The Anatomy of Work Jeans

  1. Discolored areas from powdered concrete color release used on our almost-purple porches.
  2. Mystery tar-like substance from demolition and/or climbing around on the roof.
  3. White oil-based exterior primer from sealing the cut ends of our cedar window trim and/or siding.
  4. Fresh tear in knee from repeatedly climbing up and down ladders, crawling around on the ceiling joists, and kneeling in the tub while installing tile.
  5. Construction adhesive from installing the bedroom floor.
  6. Redgard from prepping the showers for tile.
  7. Black paint from painting plumbing pieces for use as our closet shelves.
  8. Insulation from blocking in (and insulating) old basement windows.
  9. Gray paint from painting the master bedroom and bath
  10. White paint from creating the cedar trim for the full bath.

I’m totally considering framing these and hanging them for display once the house is finished. If there’s anything left of them by then…

12 Responses

  1. Love this post. You should frame these for your wall when you’re finished. I’ve got a stack of broken tools I’m keeping for a post-renovation display. So far I’ve got a giant rusted metal shovel I broke in half while digging holes for my fence, a hammer handle I that splintered while I was framing the first room (this is particularly significant because it led to my purchase of a glorious air nailer, and a paint brush I will keep forever – it documents the unfortunate color choice of the first room I ever painted in a place I owned: Metallic Gold aka Elvis Shrine Gold. I’ve also become so accustomed to my bright red drywall lift being on display in my dining room, that I can’t imagine ever moving it to the basement or the garage. I think I’ll use it as an easel for a giant piece of art.

    On a completely different topic, I have two questions for you relating to your tiling expertise. I’m tiling our kitchen counter tops (because you’ve taught me that there is no other reasonable method) with 18″ black granite squares. First, I’m wondering how narrow I can make the grout lines. I know the grout is what really keeps the tiles in place, which is why you do 3/8 or wider grout lines on tile floors, but I’d love to do 1/16th of an inch. What do you think? The rest of the internet is useless so far. Second, I’m trying to figure out what to do for the edges of the counter. There are companies that sell custom beveled edge tiles (but that takes too much prior planning), and I could bevel and polish the edges myself (but that sounds like a LOT of work), but what if I used rail molding wall tile? Given the abuse a counter top edge might take, do you think it’ll stay on? When it’s on a normal wall it would be supported by the tiles underneath it; should I build it a little ledge to sit on? I guess what I’m asking is, how strong is thinset, really?

    1. That was how I finished my kitchen counters too — I butted the tiles right up to each other so my grout lines are about a 1/8th of an inch (make sure you get unsanded grout). I set the tiles at 45° just to dress things up a little.

      The tiles have been down for about 3 years with no problems — we have 5 children and cook 2 or 3 meals a dey so the kitchen is always busy.

    2. Hi Nicole – So sorry it took me forever to respond to your tile question. (It actually has taken me a while just to find this comment again!) Regarding grout lines, you can totally do thinner lines, but you may need to use an unsanded grout. I don’t think you’ll have any problem at all with that on a counter top.

      Regarding the edges, I’ve run into this myself a few times. What I’d say is that the thinset is pretty strong… having a temporary lip under the counter isn’t a bad idea for setting the tile so it doesn’t slip down, but once it’s set I think you’ll be fine. For both of my tile counters I’ve just ripped down tile to the right height for the thickness of the counter. If the edges are nice I might run the top tiles over the edge so they cover the top of the side tiles otherwise I just made the bevel myself with the grout, if that makes sense. I did this with the 2″ tiles I used in my first kitchen and it worked great. The grout line ends up being larger than the space between tiles, but that didn’t bother me. You can see pictures of all of my tile counters here.

      I also think your idea of using rail molding tile is great… I think that’s what people do when they use granite tile to make a counter top.

  2. Hilarious. I have a pair that has every color of paint we’ve used for the past year and now I am adding dirt on the knees and butt now that we’ve started gardening. As a (former) historian, I should footnote them!

  3. It was helpful doing such a comparison. Thanks for showing how much wear and tear a pair of work jeans go through during the year. Is it even worth fixing up just wearing it to the ground?

  4. Hilarious. I have a pair that has every color of paint we’ve used for the past year and now I am adding dirt on the knees and butt now that we’ve started gardening. As a (former) historian, I should footnote them!

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