Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Barry Gray
Buying lumber in the US is not exactly difficult. It seems as if you have a plethora of places you can go and check out, but I wouldn’t always rush into things.
The problem is that not every place will clearly be as good as others when it comes to the lumber they offer. Some businesses provide you with inferior material, while others charge way over the top for the actual lumber they have to offer.
Purchasing good quality lumber is clearly essential when it comes to you getting on with your desired project. Inferior materials may lead to poorer end results, and I don’t want that to happen to you.
So, I intend to make it easier for you to avoid running into problems by giving you details on six of the best places where you will pick up some quality lumber in the US. I aim to provide you with options that will allow you to get the wood you need and then get home and proceed with your project.
But I’m not simply going to say you should go to these places. Instead, I’ll also describe why I think they are some of the best places in the country. After all, it would be easy to simply select six locations, but that’s not the case here.
1. Lumber Yards
The first place I should mention is one of the most obvious: lumber yards. You will find them scattered all over the country, and one of the best things about a lumber yard is that they will often be more than happy to cut things down to size for you.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking lumber yards are all about supplying wood for construction projects on a large scale. They will love to help you with your project and ensure you have the correct timber.
But there’s another reason why I love going to lumber yards, and it’s their expertise. You see, when you go to a DIY store, they may know a bit about wood, but their knowledge is nothing compared to these guys.
I know I’ve had times when I’ve felt a bit unsure as to the correct type of wood for a particular project, but talking to someone at a lumber yard was the best thing I could have ever done.
On the downside, you cannot simultaneously check the prices at various lumber yards. There’s just not a system out there that allows you to do that.
So, it would be best to gauge whether the quoted prices are reasonable. Remember that lumber yards will often be one of the least expensive locations to buy wood from, so even trying to compare it to another type of retailer will not lead to you getting an accurate comparison.
2. Reclamation Yards
If you have never previously visited a reclamation yard, then I suggest you go ahead and change that. A reclamation yard is this fantastic place where you find used and old items for sale, and lumber is most certainly included in that.
It’s easy to find old wooden boards from some house built 100 years ago or scrap wood from a construction project that never quite made it to the end. Also, a reclamation yard will constantly change its stock, so you never know what you may come across.
But while that sense of the unknown is enticing, it can also prove problematic. You see, it’s certainly a case of you only being able to purchase what they have available, and there’s every chance their stock may not be the perfect fit.
However, if you want to get your hands on some used lumber that you can transform, I would certainly make a point of visiting a reclamation yard and seeing what’s available. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn to some of the other items and imagining how you could pull it into your existing projects.
I see a reclamation yard as something of a treasure trove. You may come across some unique pieces of lumber that could add that extra bit of character to your project, so if that appeals, then I’d check them out.
So I believe there’s every chance a number of people reading this did not even think about buying lumber online, but you could be missing out on a wonderful opportunity.
Many large lumber retailers exist online, and as long as you do not need the wood to arrive that very same day, this could be a more inexpensive way of getting the exact size and type of wood you need.
But buying online should always come with a slight warning. Not every retailer can actually be trusted, but that’s why I’m going to suggest a couple of companies that I know will deliver wood to you at fantastic prices, along with some outstanding customer service.
But also, you need to be aware of things such as delivery costs and delivery times. Some places request you to place above a certain amount of wood, so you need to consider this before you spend any money.
However, here are a few online retailers that I think will be well worth checking out.
I think the best place to buy lumber online is with Woodworkers Source. They seem to understand that purchasing lumber online is not something everyone is accustomed to doing. So, they seek to make the entire process as simple as possible.
Not only do they stock a crazy amount of wood, but they also give you a significant amount of help to determine the correct wood you need for your projects. It’s also worth noting they do not request a minimum order but do look at the shipping costs before you complete your purchase.
I find that this online retailer does its best to simplify everything, and it’s undoubtedly the place I would head to first if I was buying lumber online.
Another fantastic online retailer is Rockler, and they sell tools as well as lumber. What I love about their website is that they include reviews, which provides you with a sense of what the quality of their items is like, and also how good they are as a company.
Their online catalog is extensive, and while they do not offer the same level of help as Woodworkers Source, I think their product range is just as good, and you should not have any problem finding the wood you need for your project.
Rare Woods USA
While the two previous options focus primarily on the main types of wood people use in projects, everything is different with Rare Woods USA. As the name suggests, this place focuses on delivering more exotic wood, and you can also order in small amounts for that minor project you are working on.
The range available on this website is impressive, and they do display their prices to allow you to determine if it falls within your budget. However, their prices are higher than elsewhere, but that’s due to the type of wood they specialize in rather than anything else.
Another option is to check social media and online marketplaces. Small local yards and retailers may offer special deals on wood. The only downside to this is that you are limited by what appears in the advert, so it may not always line up with your needs.
However, you will often discover classified ads on places such as Craigslist where you can get your hands on some general lumber without it costing you the earth. But if you intend to use this resource, try to find out a bit more about who is selling the lumber to ensure you do not find yourself stung in the process.
Your local sawmill is a fantastic place to check out when wanting to buy some lumber. Do be aware, though, that some sawmills will focus on the more common types of wood, so don’t always expect there to be an exotic woods section.
But something I love about a sawmill is its ability to cut the wood to the size you need. This is perfect if you need large boards cut down to something smaller to even allow you to get it home, or they may even deliver in some areas.
I also find a sawmill to be a fantastic source of information, but a smaller lumber yard can often prove to be better in this respect.
Once again, don’t think that a sawmill only deals in large quantities. Sure some may request a minimum order, and it’s worth checking that out, but these places generally view a sale as a sale no matter its size.
But you should also expect the wood to often come untreated, so check out if they have a treated option if this is something you need for your project.
In addition, you will face the same problem when it comes to comparing prices at sawmills as you did with lumber yards. In that respect, you need to weigh up if you think the sawmill is offering you a good deal or not because they are not necessarily the cheapest option out there just because they produce the wood in the first place.
5. Your Local Hardware Store
I generally find the quality of service at my local hardware store to be the best of all. These guys will try their best to even source specific lumber for you if they do not have it in stock, so you may have to wait before they can deliver to you.
But at the same time, the amount of lumber they can store at any given time can often be quite restrictive. That does mean there’s a good chance you will struggle to get wood at that time unless you are searching for something common such as 2×4 or plywood boards.
Also, check if they offer an option whereby larger boards or lumber can be cut down in size. This does not always happen, but I know a few local hardware stores where they have a large table saw and will cut things to size if you ask. Just be aware some may charge a small fee for this, but it could be worth it if it makes your life easier.
In my opinion, your local hardware store will be willing to really work with you on your project. Tell them what you are doing, and they will use their contacts to get quality lumber at prices you love. Chances are that their customer service really will be second to none.
But I will tell you something else that I do with my local hardware store. I get to know the people that own it. They know I’m always working on something, which means I get the occasional email or call letting me know what’s on a special deal at that moment, or if they have got anything new in stock.
If you find yourself working on various projects all the time, I’d certainly try to strike up a relationship with my local hardware store. It could prove beneficial for both parties.
6. Big Box Home Improvement Stores
When talking about Big Box home improvement stores, I clearly mean places such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, or any other brand name within that market.
I find that these stores are suitable for cheap lumber, but you will still find yourself restricted by what’s on offer. They will also cut wood for you if you purchase it from them.
But there’s another problem with these stores, which is how the prices vary.
It’s common to find that one store has an excellent price for 1×6, but then another store has a better price for 2×4. That means one thing, you do need to shop around to get the better deal.
Also, one thing I’m not too keen on with these places is the lack of help. Someone there may have some knowledge of lumber, but this is not the correct place if you want some particular expertise or assistance.
However, I see these stores as easy to get to, and if you only want the more common sizes of boards or lumber, then you may not have too many problems finding what you need here.
But generally, I would look at these stores if I was looking for basic wood options and reasonable prices. Anything other than that could mean I have a wasted trip.
So that’s my list of six of the best places to buy lumber in the US, and you should hopefully find it easier to get your hands on some decent wood to complete your projects.
One of the best things about lumber is that it should never be too difficult to find the right wood for your project. The only time that’s not the case is when you are searching for something more specialized than normal.
The six places and ideas I’ve mentioned above should make the entire process significantly smoother for you. All you need to do is to know in advance the lumber you need and whether or not the place you have in mind can help you out.
Don’t just automatically think of the big guys in the industry and imagine the enormous array of lumber they have available at any given time. Look at online sources or those smaller stores, as the amount of help they can offer could very well blow your mind.
At the end of the day, buying lumber should be straightforward, no matter your requirements. At least now, you will hopefully have some additional ideas on where you can source your material for that next project you have lined up.