How to Save Money on Lumber Costs – 17 Tips to Reduce Wood Prices

Is lumber the brand new gold? No, however lumber’s value improve has some owners feeling the pinch. According to Nasdaq data, between March 2020 and May 2021, lumber costs greater than quintupled. That elevated the associated fee to build a mean single-family dwelling by about $36,000 over the identical interval, in accordance to an evaluation by the National Association of Home Builders.

Skyrocketing lumber costs don’t simply have an effect on patrons of new-construction houses. They improve prices for main dwelling enchancment tasks like additions, basement and attic refinishing, deck and fence development, and roofing repairs or reroofing. And they hit hobbyists’ wallets too, pushing up materials prices for tasks like raised backyard beds and furnishings.

Fortunately, there are methods the lumber-seeking public can trim the price of wooden.

Tips & Strategies to Save Money on Lumber

Some of those methods for saving money on wooden scale back the price of shopping for lumber for dwelling enchancment tasks — whether or not it’s a significant job like placing on a brand new roof or a smaller job like including built-in storage. Others can management the price of hobbies like gardening and woodworking.

1. Shop at Reuse Centers or Salvage Stores

Reuse facilities and salvage shops have completely different product focuses. Reuse facilities, like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore outlets, promote a mixture of new and gently used development supplies and finishes, together with lumber merchandise like plywood, two-by-fours, and trim. Salvage shops focus extra on high-end or distinctive completed merchandise which have seen mild use, like hand-carved furnishings and customized door frames.

But each kinds of retailers provide unbelievable values.

Nonprofit reuse facilities profit from regular streams of fabric donated by constructing contractors within the charitable tax deduction their leftover provides can land them.

Salvage facilities buy or settle for donated items from demolition contractors, property sellers, and most people. They promote them in as-is situation — typically for a lot lower than comparable refurbished stock yow will discover at an vintage retailer.

2. Look for Reclaimed Wood or Spare Lumber Online

You should purchase absolutely anything on-line as of late, and lumber merchandise are not any exception. Start by looking out your native Craigslist for “lumber” or a extra particular time period associated to the kind of wooden product you want in your project, equivalent to “2x4s,” “4x4s,” “doors,” or “wood trim.”

Carefully evaluate itemizing pictures to be sure the product is as described and of acceptable high quality. Also make sure you perceive the product pricing. Prices like “$1” most likely imply the value per linear foot or piece than for your complete lot. It’s additionally widespread for itemizing thumbnails to show the value as free or omit pricing, even when the vendor expects cost. If something within the itemizing is unclear, contact the vendor for clarification.

If you don’t discover what you’re searching for on Craigslist, search Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and eBay. Be ready to act shortly, as well-priced lumber tends to go shortly.

And be on guard for on-line market scams. If you’ve gotten the choice, take care of respected sellers like lumberyards and constructing contractors — each of which incessantly use websites like Craigslist and eBay to offload lower-value lumber they’ll’t use straight away. Unlike some unknown particular person, they’ve a popularity to shield.

3. Source Directly From Demolition Sites (Legally)

“Legally” is the important thing phrase right here. Regardless of its situation, a gutted home continues to be personal property. You can’t simply stroll out with as many floorboards as you may carry.

Instead, contact the proprietor or demolition contractor and ask in the event that they’re prepared to half with salvaged wooden. If you’ve gotten time to search for appropriate properties or know of 1 in your neighborhood, you may go to in particular person when employees are there and ask to converse to the proprietor or particular person in control of the job. Worst-case situation, they’ll inform you to get lost.

If you discover somebody prepared to promote you further lumber, be ready to seal the deal instantly — and to pay money. Contractors can take tax deductions on salvaged wooden donations, so you’ve gotten to make it value their whereas. There’s an opportunity they’ll half with low-quality lumber they’ll’t promote or donate in the event you haul it off your self. But don’t financial institution on it.

But don’t commit an excessive amount of time to this technique. Much of the spare and salvaged lumber on on-line marketplaces comes from renovated homes or constructing contractor inventories. Personally pounding the pavement can repay, however looking out on-line is usually extra environment friendly.

4. Buy Spare Wood From High-Volume Users

If you want higher-quality lumber for woodworking or high-end carpentry, look to high-volume customers like customized cabinetmakers and furniture-makers. These artisans produce numerous leftover wooden — typically in odd shapes and lengths however nonetheless doubtlessly helpful for DIY woodworkers prepared to work with what they’ve.

5. Check the Used Wood Section of Your Local Big-Box Home Improvement Store

“Reclaimed” doesn’t at all times imply “affordable.” If it’s processed to the purpose of as soon as once more being a helpful materials for inside partitions, flooring, or doorways, it’s typically dearer than comparable new merchandise.

But you must nonetheless examine the used or reclaimed wooden part of your native Home Depot and Lowes (or their web sites). Reclaimed wooden is especially helpful for tasks you’re prepared to spend a bit extra on, like accent partitions, customized doorways, or customized furnishings. And it’s probably cheaper at a big-box retailer than an vintage retailer or dwelling decor showroom.

6. Compare Lumberyard and Big-Box Store Pricing

It’s tempting to assume big-box dwelling enchancment shops at all times have one of the best costs. And they typically do, particularly in contrast to independently owned and operated {hardware} shops.

But lumber is a special animal. Even independently owned and operated lumberyards incessantly have greater inventories and higher pricing than locations like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

The distinction is usually starkest for rougher cuts. Recently, I used to be pleasantly shocked to discover a small lumberyard in my neighborhood promoting unfinished cedar two-by-fours and two-by-sixes — simply what I wanted to build two rough-and-ready raised backyard beds — for about 30% lower than the native Home Depot.

The lumberyard additionally had reclaimed railroad ties priced comparably to some I’d seen on Craigslist earlier that week. The big-boxes didn’t stock these in any respect.

7. Negotiate Future Pricing With Contractors

Read the fantastic print on a constructing contractor’s written estimate. The quoted value has an expiration date, typically 30 days from the date of the estimate.

In regular occasions, when pricing for supplies doesn’t fluctuate a lot, the contractor may not implement that expiration date. They’ll honor the estimate months down the highway. But on this extra unstable lumber market, count on a value improve in the event you take your time making the choice. And don’t be shocked if the ultimate project value is slightly increased than the estimate if lumber costs improve after the quote.

To shield your self from future value will increase for lumber (and different constructing supplies), build mounted supplies pricing into the primary estimate by negotiating a clause that the contractor’s quoted value for supplies gained’t change when you settle for the estimate.

The contractor is underneath no obligation to agree to that. But they could be open to the association if there’s an opportunity lumber costs may fall between the estimate date and the date they purchase the provides for the job. It’s a real-world instance of the risk-benefit calculation that performs out day by day on commodities futures markets.

8. Work With Contractors Who Allow You to Supply Your Own Materials

A extra environment friendly and dependable manner to management lumber prices for bigger tasks you may’t or don’t need to take on your self is to provide your personal supplies.

This technique isn’t foolproof. Busy contractors typically get quantity or large-account reductions on supplies like lumber, then mark up the value to roughly what the buyer would pay at a house enchancment retailer.

But that markup is mostly a flat share, basically the revenue margin the contractor is aiming for on the supplies facet. And contractors with out ample storage typically purchase their supplies as they want them, exposing shoppers to value will increase. The sooner you buy your personal supplies, the likelier you might be to keep away from paying greater than anticipated in an inflationary atmosphere.

9. Buy the Lowest Acceptable Grade or Type for Your Project

You don’t at all times want one of the best wooden money should purchase. Lumber high quality or look (or each) isn’t essential in the event you’re doing low-finish DIY woodworking or nonstructural out of doors builds.

If you’re shopping for from a lumberyard, evaluate pricing for quartersawn, rift-sawn, and flat-sawn wooden. Quartersawn wooden is extra fascinating. So it’s typically dearer than the identical species and sort of rift-sawn or flat-sawn wooden.

If you’re searching for softwood lumber, which is extra widespread in out of doors and structural functions, perceive the distinction between “common” and “appearance” softwood and the way they grade every sort.

Common softwood lumber grades vary from 1 (enticing, simply completed lumber appropriate for seen completed makes use of like shelving and paneling) to 5 (commodity wooden with numerous seen defects appropriate for hidden makes use of like sheathing and subflooring).

Lumber grades for look softwood lumber, which builders sometimes use in furnishings and prime flooring, vary from A (no seen defects) to 2 (modest-size knots). Letter grades are for choose wooden, which is extra enticing than widespread wooden, which will get numerical grades.

If you’re searching for hardwood lumber, which is extra widespread in woodworking and completed carpentry functions, you need to maintain observe of a 3rd set of grades. These grades are much less subjective and refer to the minimal yield (quantity of usable materials) on one face. They vary from “first and seconds” (FAS), with not less than 83 1/3% yield, to #2A widespread, with not less than 50% yield.

Industrial provider community Thomas has far more element on hardwood and softwood lumber grades and makes use of.

Species can be an essential consideration. For instance, poplar is a standard hardwood for doorways and trims as a result of it’s comparatively cheap — cheaper than maple and cherry, two different well-liked hardwoods — and takes stain nicely, permitting woodworkers to mimic dearer finishes at a fraction of the associated fee.

10. Buy Odd Lengths (Shortboards) Where Feasible

If your project permits, search for shortboards — boards sawn shorter than the standard 6 or 8 ft — in your required dimension. Lumberyards typically have extra inventories of shortboards in widespread dimensions, equivalent to two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, and four-by-fours.

Because they require extra work to set up and you’ll’t use them in structural functions, shortboards aren’t as sought-after as regular-length boards. Accordingly, they incessantly promote at a big low cost.

11. Buy Directly From a Lumber Distributor or Wholesaler

Lumberyards and big-box shops don’t course of uncooked lumber themselves. They may not even deal straight with the sawmills, processors, or millwork retailers that do. They typically rely on lumber distributors that both supply straight from distributors that flip uncooked timber into ready-to-sell wooden merchandise or deal with it in-house.

Many distributors promote to most people. And some distributors, like Southern California’s Cherokee Wood Products, have in-house millwork retailers that may fill orders for carved wooden tasks like customized molding. Use the Hardwood Distributor’s Association to discover lumber distributors in your space, then examine their web sites or name to decide whether or not they promote straight to customers.

Buying straight from a distributor gained’t at all times prevent money. You’ll nonetheless want to evaluate their pricing to the pricing at lumberyards and large dwelling enchancment shops, which generally promote lumber at a loss.

12. Jump on Sale Pricing for Finished Wood Products

If you’re within the market for completed wooden merchandise like flooring, trim, or doorways, maintain an in depth watch on native wholesalers and big-box retailers. Two or 3 times per year, they run clearance gross sales on these merchandise, slashing costs by 10% to 20% or extra for every week or two at a time. As lengthy as you’ve gotten a spot to retailer your wooden till your project begins, it’s a simple manner to trim prices with out going to nice lengths.

13. Seek Out Volume Discounts

Familiarize your self with minimal value thresholds for bulk-buying (quantity) reductions at native dwelling enchancment retailers, lumberyards, and wholesalers.

They don’t normally promote these thresholds publicly — although Home Depot makes no secret of its $1,500 quantity low cost minimal — however gross sales associates will typically share the data when requested.

You might have to create an account or be part of a membership program to take part (Home Depot’s Pro Xtra program is free and open to customers). This technique solely is sensible for greater DIY tasks — decks, fences, or dwelling additions — or ongoing pastime actions.

14. Have a Plan for Leftover Lumber (or Plan Multiple Projects at Once)

Even well-planned woodworking and residential enchancment tasks produce waste or leftover lumber. It’s higher to purchase an excessive amount of than have to return to the shop or schedule a second supply halfway via work.

If you’re a woodworking hobbyist, you’ve gotten to tolerate a specific amount of wasted wooden — odd-shaped ends and items you may’t reuse. But since you at all times have one other woodworking project on deck, you may reliably reuse entire boards or lengths.

Reuse is a bit trickier for infrequent DIYers. Not way back, I destroyed three completely good leftover 8-foot two-by-fours after a number of months of obtrusive at them each time I opened the storage. I failed to notice I may use them for an upcoming DIY project.

My mistake wasn’t significantly pricey — about $10. But it was a real-world lesson in why planning pays, particularly in an inflationary atmosphere. The alternative two-by-fours value twice as a lot because the originals, a hike I’d have averted with higher planning.

As you suppose forward to future tasks, use a lumber calculator to estimate what you’ll want and when. HomeAdvisor has a good one.

15. Price Out Cost-Effective Lumber Alternatives

If your project permits, do your due diligence on options to conventional wooden and lumber.

Vinyl siding is incrementally inexpensive than wooden siding, for instance. Installed vinyl siding prices as little as $3 per sq. foot, in accordance to HomeAdvisor. Compare that with Modernize’s estimate of $6.50 to $12 per sq. foot for conventional wooden siding. Because you don’t have to repaint it, vinyl siding can be low upkeep.

Bamboo flooring is one other simple manner to save. Installed bamboo flooring prices 30% to 50% lower than conventional hardwood, in accordance to Floor Critics. To the untrained eye, bamboo appears like conventional hardwood, so most of your company gained’t know the distinction.

16. Repurpose Wood Pallets

Although their intrinsic worth has elevated together with different lumber merchandise, pallets stay plentiful. And relying on the place you discover them, they won’t value you something out of pocket. Packaging Revolution advises DIYers to search for used pallets at bars and breweries, liquor shops, small retailers like pet shops, and even faculties.

Pallets are versatile and straightforward to repurpose or upcycle into no-frills furnishings or storage buildings like shelving, patio furnishings, and backyard beds. Homedit has dozens of pallet project concepts that will probably value extra with new lumber.

17. Use Cash Back Websites or Plugins to Shop for Lumber

Use money again web sites or browser plugins to scale back your closing lumber prices. TopCashback and BeFrugal each up to 5% money again on eligible Home Depot purchases, for instance, and TopCashagain pays up to 2% again on eligible Lowe’s purchases (although simply 1% on lumber). Be certain to learn the fantastic print on these provides earlier than you store, noting any restrictions or exclusions that would intrude along with your plans.

Final Word

These suggestions and methods can scale back the lumber value of your subsequent dwelling enchancment job or DIY project. With lumber costs increased than they’ve been in latest reminiscence, you’ll be glad you took benefit of them.

These cost-cutting methods can’t work miracles, although. They can’t shield you from planning errors that lead to budget-busting value overruns or stop you from pursuing ill-conceived tasks which will lower your property’s resale worth.

Avoiding these undesirable outcomes requires a special set of expertise than merely discovering higher lumber offers. Fortunately, these are the identical expertise that may serve you nicely when you’ve bought your lumber and gotten down to business: endurance, thorough planning, consideration to element, and the all-important knack for measuring twice and slicing as soon as.

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