Went to a few HD's and Lowes in my area to get a dozen 2x4 studs for a
project. After going through the piles for 15 minutes at each place to find
straight lumber, I gave up. Most of the stuff was twisted. (Bowed studs I
could have used in a pinch).
Have you all had similar experiences? Do you have better results at a
lumber yard even though its usually alot more expensive?
Actually no; it sometimes takes a while to find what I want, but it is
There is a 20 year old story about a Grossman's store that saw it sales of
lumber go to zero. It seems the store policy was to scrap nothing, so the
bins eventually filled up with crap and customers had to go elsewhere.
Probably there is an occassional store like that still, but it has to be a
I have another data point to contribute for ya.
My neighbors who were completey rehabbing their home down to the
foundation swear up a storm about the low quality of HD's lumber, and
they always head to a proper lumber yard and no longer bother with
HD varies by region, but so do all the lumberyards, depending on the mills
in the area. None have what I'd call first class, but some are better than
others. Go back to HD next week and it may be much better. All depends on
who the low bidder is and how fast they run the stuff through the kilns. It
is not dried very well compared to furniture grade wood.
Typically, yes, and yes but more costly isn't necessarily more
expensive if account for waste and particularly if add in anything at
all for the time wasted finding decent material (or, as in your case
_not_ finding anything and doing it all over elsewhere).
I have two general observations regarding the BORGS in general as
opposed to the independents or chain "real" lumberyards. Whether they
are conscious business models or not I don't know, but here goes--
The BORGS where I've been that had them (both blue and orange) seemed
to open a bundle in the warehouse and wait until that one was nearly or
completely picked through before bringing out any new stock. The
independents, otoh, maintained multiple open bundles and also
controlled to a much greater extent the picking through process so that
individuals weren't able to completely "cherry pick" out only the clear
sticks from a bundle leaving the rest for the next unfortunate to have
to take. OTOH, if you had need for clear material, they would supply
it either from non-construction-grade supply or for a premium to select
from stock. As their market was primarily the professionals, and
larger orders than the typical DIY'er, it is much easier to work in the
odd piece in a house than for a small project of only a couple dozen
pieces, say. The BORGS, however, were even unlikely to _HAVE_ anything
other than construction grade or, often, even anybody who knew what it
might be. (I asked one time if they did have any Doug fir and even the
store manager had no idea what I could possibly be expecting to get
that would have "fur" on it. :( ).
I dread the day when/if the borg which is threatening to open here does
actually do so as I fear it will be the end of anything except the
"lowest-common-denominator" in availability as the market size is, I
fear, too small to support anything else as happened w/ the other
merchants and Wally-World after they came. :(
It varies day to day. Don't bother with the cheap ones - the "Premium"
studs are $.50 more but you'll find straighter ones and they're less
likely to warp after you get them home.
Also, never hesitate to grab some tin snips from the tool isle and
break open a fresh pallet of studs. The HD staff will give you dirty
looks for it but they're not the ones who have to fix a bowed wall.
I just buy good stuff at the local real lumber yard for a similar price.
I told this story before. We were putting a deck on the house and I went
to the local lumber yard and gave them the material list. They delivered
the material and my neighbor remarked "so you must have been at 'the
depot' all day picking this out". He couldn't understand that all of the
big box marketing was mostly spin and there are better places to buy
quality stuff. I asked one of the lumber yard owners why their stuff was
better and she said they can order any quality material they want and
they order quality stuff. If you go there yourself there is no picking
needed because all of the wood is decent quality.
For a rank amateur, HD and Lowes can be more face-saving than a real
lumber yard with a real clerk who knows something about wood.
At the first two, you take your chances but the check out clerk isn't
qualified to tell you you bought junk, and if you use self-checkout,
there is no one at all who can second guess you. Sure they might not
be straight, but for many people it's worth it.
At a real lumber yard, he'll say, What can I do for you? or Which
grade do you want, and if you don't know you look stupid. (at least a
lot of people feel that way.)
The same thing for electrical supplies, probably even more so. You
have to tell the guy at the electrical supply house what you want. At
self service, you can spend hours staring and pondering until you
finally decide what you think maybe you should buy. Or you can buy
something and easily return it if you buy the wrong thing. I don't
know for sure, but I don't think professional supply houses that sell
to the trade like doing returns. Maybe 50 dollars if someone bought
1000 dollars worth in the last few months, but not 4 dollars for
someone who spent 4 dollars.
Concommitantly, I've noticed that clerks in wholesale places are a lot
friendlier and more helpful, becuase they deal with professionals and
arent' stuck answering hundreds of stupid questions all day long.
- At a real lumber yard, he'll say, What can I do for you? or Which
- grade do you want, and if you don't know you look stupid. (at least a
- lot of people feel that way.)
Sounds like a lack of confidence to me. If I don't know what I want or
need, I ask an expert. I don't feel stupid for not knowing everything
about everything. If the person behind the counter treats me like I'm
"stupid", I simply take my business elsewhere.
- The same thing for electrical supplies, probably even more so. You
- have to tell the guy at the electrical supply house what you want.
No, you don't have to tell the guy what you want, you only have to tell
them what you want to do. Any electrical supply house that won't help
you isn't worthy of your business. I can't tell you how many times I
have gotten help from both sides of the counter - from the employee as
well as customers (read: contractors) - at supplies house for all types
of materials just by explaining to them what I am trying to do. Most
people really enjoy teaching others. Just look at this newsgroup.
- At self service, you can spend hours staring and pondering until you
- finally decide what you think maybe you should buy. Or you can buy
- something and easily return it if you buy the wrong thing. I don't
- know for sure, but I don't think professional supply houses that sell
- to the trade like doing returns. Maybe 50 dollars if someone bought
- 1000 dollars worth in the last few months, but not 4 dollars for
- someone who spent 4 dollars.
The chances of having to return items to a professional supply house is
reduced because you received professional help in choosing your items.
Besides, just about every store will take back what you purchased from
them. That's just about the standard everywhere these days. Even the
supply houses have to compete on a certain level with the self service
stores. Accepting returns simply makes sense from that perspective.
- Concommitantly, I've noticed that clerks in wholesale places are a
- friendlier and more helpful, becuase they deal with professionals and
- arent' stuck answering hundreds of stupid questions all day long.
Very true, and in many cases the advice offered is better than the
advice offered by even the nicest employee at the home center.
I agree with this assessment. The guys/girls at the local lumber yard are
always very helpful. Same thing with the electrical/plumbing supply houses.
I find asking for help instead of trying to be a know-it-all homemoaner
Also, there typically isn't anybody around on the floor at the local HD, but
Lowes is always loaded with staff.
I find that our local lumber yards have better quality as well as
wood. The same goes for gypsum services places regarding drywall,
electrical supply houses regarding electrical stuff, plumbing houses,
etc. Lowes, HD, etc. are the place you go when you really need
something at 8 pm on Saturday, or when a pipe bursts on Sunday;
I find that they are nearly always more expensive (or at best the same
price) and the quality and selection are usually not quite as good.
At the HD there is not a lot of supervision at the lumber pile. They
just pull them down a pallet at the time and folk sort through them
until someone complains that only crap is left.
If you grab an HD employee and tell them you can't use the boards
that are out and could they please pull down another pallet. If like
you say all the boards are bad then they will be glad to pull down some
new ones because, that is the only way they know to do it is if someone
If they won't then take your business elsewhere. HD's prices are often
beat by local yards and the service is for sure. no one should ask you
to buy boards you can't use. Great suggestion was metal studs though I
am used to wood myself.
- If you grab an HD employee and tell them you can't use the boards
- that are out and could they please pull down another pallet.
And then stand around and wait until they round up an employee licensed
to drive the forklift, a employee trained to walk in front of the
forklift with a flag in each hand, 2 - 4 employees trained to clear the
aisle of all customers and set up the gates at each end and a manager
or 2 to supervise the operation. That shouldn't take more than a half
hour or so.
After all that, you get to be the first one to sort through the new
bundle trying to find the maybe 30% of material worth using.
To leave out? :)
The only one of the three that either borg had in Knoxville was
potentially price -- it certainly wasn't convenient to fight the mall
traffic and quality in dimensional lumber was a joke, so that only
leaves one at best. And, if one factored in anything for time both in
the selection/purchasing process as well as using the sorry material in
the end, then the price ain't so hot either... :( (But the blue had a
far higher chance of at least acceptable quality than the orange there,
but not reliably enough so that I'd have given up Witt's or Cherokee or
Anderson or...oh, to have only one of them here would seem heaven's
doors opened. Of course, they couldn't have here what they did there
w/ less than 5-10% the population, either.)
But I know you didn't mean it all that seriously, just the mantra,
Most HD customers go to the lumber department expecting to find studs
suitable for cabinet work. If precision is what you want, go to a
hardwood supply house and buy kiln dried oak, maple, walnut, etc. For
framing applications, you should talk with a professional framer and ask
how he selects lumber.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.