Choosing Lumber Materials

woman shopping for supplies

Many homeowners today can find two or three home centers plus a locally owned lumberyard within easy driving distance. These companies compete aggressively for your business, and you benefit from their battles to deliver the best prices and customer service. In addition, you'll find a wider range of choices than ever before.

Projects in Choosing Materials

Do Your Homework
Price is an obvious and easy-to-understand part of every buying decision. When you're shopping for a specific name-brand power tool, for example, it's easy to determine which retailer offers the best value.

But lumber products -- even when they bear identical grading stamps -- can vary significantly among retailers. When you know the quality points of these products, you'll be armed with the knowledge you need to make better buying decisions.

Know the store's policies
Some retailers may contend that lumber sales are final when you leave the parking lot; others will accept returns of unused materials at the end of a project.

Delivery is another major consideration. If your only vehicle is a compact car, attempting to haul drywall can break the material, damage your car, or both. Some retailers offer delivery, which may even be free, depending on the size of your purchase and the retailer. But don't expect immediate delivery. It may take several days to work your order into the schedule.

You also may find that some stores offer the option of renting a small flatbed truck to haul your materials. Call ahead of time to check whether you need to make a reservation and to learn other details of the rental agreement.

Seeking professional help
Many retailers pride themselves on the personal qualifications of their employees, some of whom are former tradespeople who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you. Don't hesitate to ask for advice on material selection, specialized tools, or installation procedures.

If you're about to embark on a complex project, review your plans with personnel at the retailer's service desk. These folks should double-check your materials estimates and offer insights.

One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!