Lumber prices have been volatile over the last two years. But, recently, prices have again begun to soar thanks to global events affecting the supply chain and the boom in construction. This is bad news for builders and handymen alike since a larger part of your budget for houses, sheds, and other large projects will go towards lumber.
With prices rising with no signs of stopping, the hunt is on for affordable lumber. While it has become a sort of treasure hunt in today’s market, there are still options where you can find cheap lumber. Here’s how to find the most affordable lumber near you.
Find Affordable Lumber Near You
Even though it seems impossible, there are ways to find cheap lumber near you. All you have to do is know where to look. Few options are available nationwide, so we have decided to give you general ideas of where you can look to save on lumber.
Big Box Hardware Stores May Not Be the Cheapest
There’s always a time and place for big box hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes. But when it comes to finding affordable lumber, they may not be the best option. Big box hardware stores tend to have a limited selection of types of wood and quality. Their prices may still higher than other options mainly due to their convenience. But sometimes their huge buying power allows them to offer lumber cheaper then anywhere else. Depending on the exact lumber you need, they may have the best deal. So take a look and check for yourself. But chances are you will have to do a bit of legwork to find cheaper wood for your shed or other DIY project.
3 Ways to Save Money at Lowe’s
There are a few smart things you can do to save a significant amount of money at Lowe’s. I’ve actually done all of these things and they work very well.
1. Buy a Lowe’s 10% off coupon from this site for $3. Yes the coupons really work online and in the store. I don’t know how but they do. I’ve probably bought 15 from them and I’ve never had a problem using them.
2. Join Rakuten and buy your lumber from Lowe’s online. This will save you another 2%. Then you can pick your order up in person or get it delivered for a fee – usually around $100. Rakuten is free to use.
3. Use a cash back credit card when buying materials and save another 5%. Here’s an example: Discover card refunds you 5% from purchases at Lowe’s if you buy materials during their ‘home improvement’ quarter – usually April-June (you also get a $50 credit when you sign up).
Doing all 3 of these together will save you 17% off your shed material cost – probably hundreds of dollars!
Check out the Lumber Yard
Another option for affordable lumber is to visit a lumber yard like 84 Lumber or a local lumberyard. A lumberyard specializing in building supplies for larger projects will give you a better selection of species and quality. These yards often have lower lumber prices but require a minimum quantity, which can be problematic for a smaller project.
If this is the case, you could purchase extra lumber for another upcoming project. But you’ll only realize savings if the price of lumber continues rising. You could also go in with some friends to meet the minimum purchase order. If neither of those options works, you’ll need to look for affordable lumber elsewhere.
Find Your Local Sawmills
When you purchase lumber from a big box store, lumberyard, or lumber dealer, you’re paying for someone to source the wood. To cut out the middleman, seek out your local sawmills and see what they have to offer. Often you’ll find that sawmills or sawyers can sell you lumber at a lower cost since they don’t have to ship it to another location, and you don’t have to pay a middleman. However, it’s important to note that this option is only available in certain parts of the country.
Thrift Your Lumber
If you’re not picky about the lumber, another viable option is to pick up some salvage lumber. You can source salvage lumber from many different places, as long as you know where to look. One option is to talk to the construction foreman at construction sites. There is often leftover lumber that is simply discarded at the end of a project or discarded for slight blemishes when it is a perfectly good piece of lumber.
You may also be able to salvage lumber by repurposing wood from an older structure such as a barn being torn down. Likewise, estate sales can also be an interesting place to find cheap lumber. Many children are simply looking to liquidate the estate, so if the former owner was into construction or woodworking, you might be able to find some gems there. Otherwise, check out the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. When homes are torn down or remodeled, old parts and materials are often donated to the Habitat ReStore. While inventory varies frequently, shopping here is like a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find, from affordable lumber to unopened packages of shingles.
You can also thrift lumber from a lumber yard. Check with your local lumber yards as see if they have any waste or bundles that they are looking to discard. They’ll often give these away or sell them at a steep discount. However, this lumber could potentially house bugs you’ll need to get rid of properly before using the lumber for your project.
Look Online or Ask Around
Believe it or not, you can also find cheap lumber online. But it’s one of those things you just have to keep an eye out for and grab it when you see it. While the go-to place online used to be the classified ads of Craigslist, it’s more common to find lumber listed on sites like Facebook Marketplace. If you can’t find anything on either of these sites, you may have some luck on discussion boards or woodworking forums. Or, when all else fails, simply ask around and see if any family, friends, or neighbors know of anyone getting rid of any lumber, tearing down any old structures, etc.
Consider Green Lumber
Another less talked about method of finding affordable lumber is to opt for green lumber. Green lumber is essentially lumber that has not been air-dried or kiln-dried. Because this process is skipped, green lumber is a tad bit more affordable. But, there are some cons to choosing green lumber. For starters, green lumber tends to be prone to shrinkage and warping. Additionally, the extra moisture makes the lumber heavier and susceptible to mold. If you decide to build with green lumber, it’s best to use it with smaller buildings with less structural needs, such as sheds, barns, small cabins, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is that green lumber doesn’t always stay green. Eventually, it will air dry. In other words, if you have the time and space, you could air-dry green lumber yourself, saving on the initial cost of lumber (especially if the price of lumber keeps rising). Just remember that it can take up to 1-year for each inch of thickness depending on your climate (humidity levels, etc.). The longer you can air dry, the better. Many builders avoid using air-dried lumber in building homes since removing all the moisture is difficult. If you decide to air dry green lumber, remember that you’ll also have to take the time to plane it to deal with any warping or splitting that occurred during the drying process.
Always Consider the True Cost
Cheap lumber can be difficult to find, but it’s not impossible when you consider all of the options listed above. While it’s always fun to find a great deal, it’s important to keep your entire project in mind. In other words, nothing ever comes for free.
Affordable lumber often means that you will have to spend time getting the lumber ready to use by removing nails and screws, sanding, etc. If your project has a short deadline, you may find it more beneficial to pay for the higher cost of lumber to keep your project on schedule. On the other hand, if it’s simply a passion project you’re working on, the little bit of effort to find affordable lumber may be worth it, even if it means your project takes longer.
Finding affordable lumber will be more time-consuming than just throwing the money and moving forward on your project. So be sure to ask yourself what is more important, budget or time, before beginning to hunt for a bargain.