Spaces for Life

The ReTouch Home Improvement blog



Spaces for Life: Where should I buy the material for my home project?

By Lance McCarthy

One of the big questions in any remodeling project is where to get the materials. Do we get the tile from one of the tile stores in town? Do we order our lights online? Should we save some money by buying our cabinets at Home Depot? There are so many opinions, I might as well share mine.

Lawyer’s disclaimer: I am a big advocate of buying local any time you can. Also, keep in mind I’m over simplifying a complicated issue here. There are exceptions to every rule. Take your time on purchases and rely on expert advice any time you can.

What to buy at supply company/showroom: the more technical or precise the item (plumbing fixtures, tile, countertops and doors), the more value you gain from a showroom. They usually have more consistently experienced staff that can give you valuable advice about which product is best for you. They also usually have a higher quality product that will last longer and look better. A Kohler faucet from a supply house will have higher quality parts than the exact same model from Home Depot.

What to buy at Home Depot (or one of the other big guys): Tools, bulk building materials (like studs, deck boards, drywall and mulch), and anything you could need for a quick fix. Think of them like the A-Team (as in the tv show) of construction–they are good at getting people out of jams. It may not always be pretty, but it will get the job done, and their van is cool (wait, does Home Depot have a van with a circle window?)

What to buy online: We are in the middle of a retail revolution. I just ordered a spatula and earbuds online (I love you Amazon Prime!) Shouldn’t that apply to home stuff as well? Short answer is sometimes. This works especially well for items that are less bulky or more quirky. That hard to find glass doorknob or the handmade tile ribbon for your backsplash could be great things to buy online. We have even purchased a $10,000 grill online before. Just beware. This can really backfire if you don’t know much about what you are ordering. Some other tips:

  • If the item is special order, I recommend calling in a week after you ordered it to confirm that it is being delivered.  You would be amazed at how many times orders are misplaced or misentered before they get into the system.
  • Check on the return policy for special order items.  Many times it either can’t be returned, or there is an exorbitant fee to return that will make it pointless to do.
  • I mentioned faucets having different (lower quality) parts when you get them from the big box stores.  You will find the same issue with doors, tile, some light fixtures, and some trim.
  • If you are installing the item yourself, don’t forget to read the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Many times if you don’t do it like they want, you’ll void the warranty.

How about you?  Do you have opinions about the best place to buy stuff?  What are your favorite stores in town for your house?  Leave a comment below.

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