I need cedar boards for an upcoming project, and with COVID-19 travel and shopping restrictions, not to mention the greater-than-zero risk of transmission that comes with any interactions with other people, I was determined to order it online.
Last week I asked in a post: Would You Order Cedar Boards from the Big Box Home Center?
The general consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t the best idea and that maybe I’d get some junk boards.
I ordered some 2×6 x 6′ boards from an online garden supply shop, meant for raised garden bed construction, and they haven’t arrived yet. I also ordered 1×4 x 4′ boards from Home Depot, in a pack of 12. I was curious to see what those boards would look like, and they will probably serve as the hidden bottom for my planter project.
From Lowe’s, I ordered (2) cedar 4x4s, (2) 2x4s, and (6) 1×6 boards, with actual and not nominal thicknesses. The 1×6’s turned out to be deck boards with 1″ x 5.5″ dimensions.
I received a call on Friday telling me that the next available delivery would be Monday (today). I received multiple calls yesterday with delivery windows for today, but it turns out that was because I was also due to arrive a shipment of the wrong drainage pipe from a different supplier today.
The driver called me with a “we’ll be there in 25 minutes” ETA. They arrived a little after 1pm, dropped off the boards in front of the garage, and I cleared some place to put them inside.
The 4x4s are pretty ugly. They’re not unusable, but I’d consider them to be “garden barrier” quality. One was split down the entire length, the other was was split about halfway. I’ll make due with them. I’ll hide the splits, maybe reinforcing them with a couple of stainless steel wood screws.
The 2x4s are junky, and honestly, I’m not even sure they’re cedar. I’ll use them for planter floorboard support or similar. Or, maybe not if there’s a chance they’re pine.
The 1×6 deck boards are actually quite decent-looking.
I plan to use the 2×6’s I ordered from the garden supply shop for my main planter project, but could use some more wood for bucket planter stands and similar less-urgent needs.
The deck boards aren’t perfect, and they certainly aren’t fine woodworking quality, but they appear to be straight and decent. Part of this is likely due to the dimensions, or maybe because they’re actually stocked as deck boards.
I was pleased enough with this purchase that I will be ordering more, along with some potting soil, drainage pipes, and other stuff that I probably should have included with this one order to make the most of the delivery charges.
Actually, hold on, let me check on the boards one more time.
Yep, they’re actually quite good, I’m going to plan out my adjacent project needs and order more.
I suppose the difference comes from the 4x4s and 2x4s being dimensional cedar advertised for fencing projects and the 1×6’s (really they’re 5/4 boards) being deck boards.
At this time, Lowe’s website can’t even tell me which store locations have the 5/4 cedar boards – they’re unavailable for in-store pickup anywhere and only available for delivery. Or, this could be due to in-store pickup being closed due to COVID-19 distancing guidelines, I don’t know.
I can say, with relative confidence, that I’m glad I didn’t bother trying out the 1×6 (5/8″ x 5.5″ nominal) boards. Those boards are a little pricier than the “Top Choice” 5/4 (1″ x 6″ actual) boards I did purchase, and I’m fairly certain they would have been as warped and junky as the 2x4s and 4x4s I received.
I do wish a little that I received the straight-edged boards as they appear on Lowe’s website, rather than the rounded-over boards I received. But, I’d rather have the round-edge boards I received than warped straight-edge boards of lesser quality. I can always rip-cut the edges if needed.
Overall, this was a rather stress-free experience. I was braced for the worst, which is why I’m not terribly upset at the lower quality of the 4×4 and 2×4 boards, and quite pleased with the quality – or at least the straightness and low defect quality of the 5/4 boards.
They’re knotty, sure, but the price comes down to $2.145 per foot (not including tax or delivery). Deck boards from the hardwood supplier 45 minutes away are priced at $2 per foot for knotty grade 5/4 x 6 cedar, not including delivery. On paper, they’re the same – surfaced on 4 sides and with eased edges. They might even come from the same source.
The hardwood supplier’s price sheet also has 5/4 x 6 knotty green cedar boards with 1 side and 2 edges surfaced and 1 side rough, for $2.19 per foot. They also have better boards, such as without knots, with vertical grain, or rough-sawn with tighter grain, but at much higher premiums. For my current needs, I’m okay with the 5/4s I ordered and received from Lowe’s.
Bottom-line, I took a gamble on the 4x4s, 2x4s, and 5/4 1×6 cedar boards. I lost on the 4x4s and 2x4s, but the 5/4s worked out nicely. The 5x4s are knotty, but straight, sanded, and with rounded edges (there are pros and cons to this, but I can’t be too choosy right now).
Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee what your experiences might be like, I can only tell you about mine.
I think that, as far as the most important part of my order – the 5/4 boards – I’m happy. I ordered less than I needed/wanted so that I wouldn’t be left with too much if they proved to be junky, and I’m already planning for my second order.
Buy Now: 5/4 Cedar Boards via Lowe’s
Now, I have to think about how I feel about laminated/glued-together cedar boards for the legs of my planter box project, in lieu of the 4x4s.
Update: There have been a couple of “how dare you buy anything that’s not life-saving essential right now!” messages. These materials are destined for planters that will be used for the growing of vegetables, which while not life-saving is far from say ordering a new TV. Lowe’s has been criticized for keeping longer opening hours than Home Depot, resulting in higher evening crowds, but they have adjusted their hours since then. The comments section will be kept clear of politics.
Your experience reinforces my plans to wait to go hand pick things after it is possible again.
In my region, Menards often had the best selection of rough sawn cedar, and that was what I tended to choose for raised beds. Overall, the rough sawn boards tended to just be better overall.
That would definitely be ideal, and probably the preferred option for next year.
Last year I couldn’t find dimensional boards (or maybe they were so bad I blocked it out of my mind) and the cedar fences were really low-grade, so I gave up, and this year I’ve been feeling a bit more desperate.
Right now, we don’t know when restrictions will be lifted, and I can’t risk waiting.
I didn’t adjust my purchasing plans for seed-starting suppliers and materials, and now have to adjust my plans in quite a few ways. Due to huge unexpected increases in orders, suppliers are backlogged 1-2 weeks when it comes to order fulfillment, and some of what I planned to order are sold out with ETAs beyond when I need them for.
So for this year, I’m in “I’ll take what I can get mode,” but was also curious to see what the experience would be like. If not for ToolGuyd editorial curiosity, I wouldn’t have ordered anything from Home Depot or Lowe’s – these cedar purchases were largely experimental.
Hand picking is the only way to go at Menards and honestly with the app you have almost no personal contact with anyone accept the gate keeper.
I remember building my raised beds last year and going to all the hardware stores in the Pittsburgh area trying to find nice suitable boards to build 2 large beds. 8×4′ and 16×4′. I was SO disappointed with the quality and mismarked dimensions. Many claimed to be 1′ but were 3/4 and 2′ were at best 1 1/2. Then I remembered this old mill/lumber yard that’s actually just 10min away. Not only was there an endless supply in the covered yard. 2x6s were actual 2×6. And the 4x4s though many were split, were also plentiful you just had to dig the right one out. My family called me crazy for spending about $600 on 2 beds but I know that these beds will last MANY many years and much less in the long run. Especially when the 1x6s at lowes would have still cost about $300 in boards and additional for extra support peices.
Lowes sucks nobody gives s shit.
That’s simply not true.
When ever you want wood you must pick it out yourself. Because Lowe’s will grab the first ten boards and not pick out the best for lazy people like you
Read the post, it’s not about being lazy. What I wanted is a bit too far away and I lack the capability to easily transport the number of boards I will ultimately want. Plus, there’s the pandemic and “don’t go to the store if you don’t need to” guidelines, otherwise I would have no problem spending some time driving to different suppliers to see what’s available. Last year, the local stores didn’t have any good boards or fence pickets to break down. This year, I might have been willing to travel further, but it’s a moot point now.
I buy cedar boards and J&R lumber, Andover Ohio, for making furniture and other projects, they are the best that you can get
Stuart, this was very helpful, thank you! I apologize for the rude people.
Have a good day!
Use pressure treated SYP and line it with a plastic liner if you’re afraid of Copper salts.
I ruled out treated wood.
Maybe run some water resistant wood glue and clamp the split boards if you think it’s worth it.
Roughly half the wood in the stack at Lowes & HD is generally #2 grade or outright rejects. You get the same thing in local lumber yards if they don’t periodically cull it and move some over to the #2 stacks. Generally speaking Lowes and HD don’t do this. If the yard workers actually load the wood which is pretty common you can stand there and check it as they go and anything you reject they’ll move to the #2 stack or to the scrap/rejects stack. Generally there is sort of an agreement about what #1 & #2 mean. If you ordered #2’s however unless it is outright reject (split the full length, big knot kills structural integrity, etc.), you can’t reject it. In stores where you are allowed to hand sort periodically they just have to rotate out the stack or at least the stuff on top.
Sometimes our recollections of the past get clouded or embroidered with elements of nostalgia. So I don’t know if its just me, but many of the recent decks that we had built with “cedar” did not hold up well at all. I’m not sure that if we are harvesting slightly different species than we did 50 years ago – but its just my anecdotal experience. Many of our clients who wanted the look and feel of natural wood (eschewing Azek, Trex etc.) would ask about the options and our experience. If material cost was not an issue – we’d recommend Cumaru, Ipe, or Purpleheart based on our experience with longevity. We still might use pressure treated for the under-structure – taking care to try to provide good drainage – where any wood would contact the ground.
To the point of “good drainage” – if you plan to have your wood embedded in the ground – its wise to have it resting on or touching a bed of gravel instead of soil.
This year at least, my planters are going on the deck or driveway. I’m still working on things in the front and back, and so there’s no place for any raised garden, flower bed, or anything of the sort right now.
If I have a good season trying to grow veggies in containers, then I’ll try to plan out space for a veggie garden next year.
In my mind, I’d rather work with containers again rather than make permanent or hard-to-reverse garden placement decisions right now.
My oldest (built in the 1980’s) set (6 – 4x12ft and 8 4x8ft) in-ground raised beds are starting to show their age – but have not succumbed to so much rot as to be unusable. I attribute their longevity to having provided good drainage (many yards of pea gravel) – as much as the good redwood that was bought back then.
You can shop Lowes in person still, there a government contractor, they are allowed to stay open, expecially in crisis. Second thing, I am sorry that that happened at Lowes I know my team would not pick your order without checking the quality of the wood. I am sorry for your negative experience with Lowes. Not all of us are careless and overlook import things like quality of product.
There’s no guarantee these aren’t the best 2×4 and 4×4 boards at the Lowe’s that they shipped from.
I ordered aluminum from McMaster Carr a few years back, and it arrived with deep gouges in it, as if someone turned off a chop saw and let the angle stock slide across the still fast-moving blade. I complained and they told me the metal is intended for industrial applications, which I took as their saying it’s not going to have a finished appearance. It seemed to me that they’ve received complaints before from people who ordered mill-finish stock and mistakenly expected polished metal. That’s not what happened to me – my order was damaged – but that experience led me to be to be more conscious about how my intended usage might not be perfectly aligned with how a product is intended to be used.
The 2x4s were warped, which isn’t all that unusual for what I often see at home center when it comes to 2x pine. The cracked 4x4s were surprising, but maybe that’s all they had. I don’t see how this would be usable for fencing, but perhaps for garden borders? I don’t know.
I would have visited a nearby store to check these out at the least, and while I can do that right now, I’ve heard stores can be crowded, something I’d like to avoid. While I know some stores have implemented new limits on how many people can shop in a store at the same time, my needs are not important enough to deal with that or to take the place of someone who has more urgent needs, if that makes sense. Why should a contractor who needs to make a supply run have to wait for me to stroll around the store at this time?
I was surprised with the deck boards being quite decent for my needs, and the overall delivery experience was fast and easy. It was these 5/4 boards that I was most interested in. The location that carries them isn’t too close, and so the decision came down to ordering them and checking them out or not being able to check them out for potential use in my current project at all. The 2×4 and 4×4 boards were added to the order because I could use them, but I wouldn’t have ordered them for delivery if not for the need/want to check out the 5/4 boards.
Maybe the shipping store doesn’t usually hear complaints about the quality of their cedar boards, or it’s more important to them and their customers for fast fulfillment and delivery. What if all the boards were of similar low quality – would they call me and tell me their entire stock of boards are low quality and perhaps I should reconsider?
I really wish every store had someone (or as many associates and representatives as possible) who shared your attention and mindset.
I recently picked out 8 cedar 2x4x8 from Lowes. When I walked in, they only had 3 board in the usual bin – and they were all bad and I thought I was going home empty handed. But the grumpy worked told me they just received a shipment that was down the aisle and I spent a solid 30 minutes picking out 8 from the yet to be unpacked cart. There were a large number of warped and split boards (a couple of which I bought – somehow I missed seeing the splits in store). I bought a couple extra and glad I did. Could see how purchasing online is a total crap shoot.
It looks like they could have a tremendous delivery business. But choose not to by delivering poor quality. It would be nice if one of these companies would step up, and make a commitment to not ship junk.
Don’t give them your money. Problem solved.
It’s a little more expensive but I always get better product from an 84 Lumber than the box stores. They deliver too and are probably on greater need of customers now than the big boxes.
If you live near tacoma, my recommendation would be to go to mill outlet on Tyler st. They open tomorrow at 7am to I believe 3 pm they have red cedar and yellow cedar. Better quality wood than a box store but alot less.
Garbage lumber from a big-box store. Color me shocked.
I find that with 2x4s from the big-box stores, if I joint 1″ off each edge I’m left with a perfect piece
What are the pros/cons of cedar vs pressure treated pine? I’m looking to build raised garden beds in Virgina.
Pressure treated isn’t food grade. Cedar all natural rot resistant Menards sells this recycled plastic 4×8 sheets( about 3/8” thick($50.00).. Sheet could be broken down, used as a ground barrier. Or on planter exterior, UV stable & paintable. Not sure if it could be used on bed interior walls, may leach chemicals. I bought one sheet, I’m pretty impressed with it. Very unique product , with endless rot resistant uses.
I think the sheets are 1/4”, not 3/8”.
Pressure treated can also leach chemicals into soil/potting mix.
Consider this – you can grill food on cedar planks, but you absolutely cannot do the same with pressure treated wood.
I’m a delivery driver at Lowe’s in Dayton Ohio,we pull the deliveries with the best lumber we have available….the stores receive supplies from the contracted suppliers ,we have no choice,it’s the corporate office that makes those decisions. We have multiple orders to fill,no time to be spending hours rejecting less than perfect lumber. One large deck order can take hours to pull and I average eight deliveries a day…we deliver anywhere within 100 miles from the store,so even though you may have an order you are chomping at the bit to get,so are others. I try to use logic and common sense in routing my deliveries, roofing orders are usually first up,then repeat customers who are reliable and know what to expect. Then it depends on location and where it makes the most sense to start and finish.
My deliveries are driveway to driveway,if I can,I will do my best to get it where you want it,but my forklift is twelve feet tall and eleven feet wide,it’s probably not going to fit inside your garage. As far as the quality of lumber goes,few people think much about it,but up until the eighties,there was still old growth forest available for use as timber,now that is mostly gone. So what is used most us lumber cut from timber grown specifically for that purpose,in huge forests fertilized and treated for insects,watered and cared for so it grows very fast. Which means wide growth rings and that means less structural integrity ,so it warps easily, especially since it is cut and quickly kiln dried,then shipped out. The issue isn’t poor quality,it’s in the way it is handled.
Thanks for the background info!
How is your forklift 11′ wide?!?
12′ tall and 11′ wide is a bit exaggerated. I’m an employee at Lowe’s and know that is not true because I operate them everyday.
The order pickers at these stores are slammed with orders and don’t care what you get as long as they fill it.
I use to like Lowes until I discovered that they false advertise stuff all the time, advertise a 6 tool kobalt cordless combo kit for $120 that nobody in the United States has in stock and it can’t be ordered. I was on the phone for a couple hours with customer service raising hell and never got the kit at that price. Just watch there power tool combo kits or refrigerators on she, you’ll see what I mean.
I ordered dirt and Landscape Timber (Actual: 2.625-in x 3.25-in x 8-ft). I’m a Senior woman, and can see some of them aren’t the best, but doable. Since the CV19 keeps anyone from building the boxes, I would enjoy seeing the progression of your boxes. Thanks
My lowes and HD regularly stock cedar in various dimensions.
My experience has been less that 10% of their stock it useable and about 5% is of good quality.
If I am planning a project I usually stop by 1-2 times a week and search for quality boards.
It may take 2 months to find 20 boards.
Or if I dont have time I order 5x what I need do store pickup sort through material at store and immediately return the rest.
Don’t forget we are now a METRIC country even thou they describe in inches . This has been in place for years now and you just need to account for that difference.
It ALLWAYS pays to pick your own wood , split , twisted , damaged is what the partime kid will pick off the top of the pile . EVERY TIME !
I Love Wood ….. D
Was this purchased at Lowe’s in Reading PA? Looks similar to an order we had.
No. Maybe the wood came from the same regional distributor?
Wow i received 10 interior doors all jambs seemed to have been dragged through the store to my house 100 km away couldnt return has i need them asap.Im still waiting response from lowes after they said they would contact me 48 hrs its been a week.
For the last few years I have built a variety of planters from Cedar 2×6 and the 5/4×6. I could post photos if that option were available. I love working with the 5/4 material. The quality is almost always there and it is plenty strong enough as a small to medium sized planter. I have seen this at Lowes but purchased mine from a local PNW dealer.
I just completed a planter that is perfect for household/driveway/patio growing. It is 30x18x13 tall. This makes it moveable but it will hold enough soil to really support the growth of the plants. Let me know if you want to see photos.
I always love photos. The forum (https://discuss.toolguyd.com/) supports uploads, but in the comments section here, social media links and the such are often the only option.
I don’t think I would go into Lowe’s or Depot unless there are essential items needed, but without the proper protection its like a breeding ground for the virus, people don’t stay away. They don’t have the proper cleaning supplies or sanitizer. They are busier now than any other holiday or black Friday. People just shopping with their whole family. Kids all over things. This is a time they are supposed to be keeping customers and employees safe. My projects are on hold till further notice and only if there is an emergency will I go in there. But to your post yes the wood is not the best…
I tried to upload photos using the link you provided. I created an account but it would only let me post a single photo. I have more if you are interested. Let me know how to get them to you. Email them to you??
That looks clean and simple. I’ve been toying with a few ideas for different designs, that looks great for the smaller secondary projects I’ve been thinking about!
Email works too, thank you! I thought of the forum because it increases the number of people that benefit from your efforts, but if you don’t mind, I’d love to see your projects!
My easiest email is Stuey (at) toolguyd (dot) com.
I work for lowes. Biggest thing is thanks for ordering it. Most of the customers we get inside the store are just bored because the malls closed buying non essential items or nothing at. Sorry some of the product wasn’t up to par. But thanks for using social distancing. You can also contact the store and return what was crappy
Thanks, I appreciate it!
I am admittedly feeling some withdrawal symptoms – this is probably the longest I’ve been between visits to Home Depot or Lowe’s stores in a few years. I can definitely see people going there just to stroll around, but that really doesn’t seem appropriate to me.
I’ll have to make a trip to the store at some point, but not for a few weeks. There are minor supplies I’ve been needing – air filters, 2″ PVC trim to patch an exterior door where mice are tunneling in through a damaged section, bleach if available, lag screws, electrical tape, but so far I’m just running up a list. If I can order it, that seems better for everyone, and if not I’ll wait until there’s more justifiable reason.
If we all said that “withdrawal symptoms” are OK and much better than COVID-19 symptoms – then practiced some discipline to stay home – we’d all be doing our bit. There still seems to be a feeling (for many ) that the risk of getting it is low, that for most the symptoms will be mild – or not require hospitalization and that going shopping does no real harm. We need to wake up to the realities – that unnecessary shopping puts us and others at unnecessary risk. Let’s all prioritize our needs – clean air to breathe comes first – then things to drink – then food, medicines and medical supplies – then personal and family hygiene items – then items to keep us safe and so on. Browsing the aisles at the local HD or Lowes might be a welcome diversion in ordinary times – but these are far from being ordinary times.
From a lowes employee I thank you for caring and staying home
Seriously, galvanized aluminum or steel make the best raised garden beds as they last so much longer. Birdies brand is the tops. Easy to assemble in many shapes to suit your needs from one kit. Worth every penny.
Thanks, that’s something I will consider for future projects. For now, my planter boxes need to be movable, reconfigurable, and design-flexible, which is why I decided to go with wood.
We bought a pair of galvanized steel stock watering tanks some years back. My wife initially wanted to use then for water plants – but they leaked . I thought to line them with hot tar – but then we just gave up an started using them as regular planters at a transition spot in the garden.
They have held up fairly well. The water plants are now in a pond that we excavated out.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I know it will help me in making purchasing and delivery choices in the future.
Thanks for your input and patience. I don’t work in the Lumber department of a Lowe’s in Utah but see alot come through the front end. Children are not in as much as they have been in the past
Years. People would be surprised at how behaved most are. Thanks to parents who are being more watchful. We Clean our counters and pin pads after every customer that comes through our line. We have associates who go around and clean during hours. It’s not a place full of germs growing like it sounds like from some people.
When I see wood come through my line I have to count and scan individual types and if I see it’s damaged or warped I ask if they would like to get a better piece. Cracks are easy to see if the customer is paying attention to what is going on the cart. If they don’t want to get another I give a discount on the damaged piece. When wood is placed on carts by a customer who wants good merchandise it’s stacked on the cart and with barcodes to make their time not wasted at the registers. We want our customers to have good experiences and repeat shopping time with us.
There are alot of people who come in and just get ideas. And then those who are getting items not Essential to most but it helps them at home to stay busy and get less stress from being restrained at home.
When you decide to go out for items you can wear a safety mask and disposable gloves. Keep your distance from others and have your plan what you need and location in the store.
Our store still has online pickup. But only you can pick out the best/better wood.
I hope you have a better experience overall next time you shop with Lowe’s. Upraised are the best gardens. Thankyou for your patience and remember not all wood is perfect.
The solution my contractors, friends and I have worked out is this: Order a bit more than twice of what you need. Pick out the half that are best for your project. Bundle up the rest and return them. We have even done that for “real” lumber yards.
Thanks for the advice on cedar vs treated lumber. I went to Home Depot this morning for several projects, and looked through the cedar that was there. The 1 x 4 and even 1 x 6 stuff was fairly warped, but the 1 x 8 had been milled better than the smaller pieces and were almost all in good shape. It was more expensive than what I had been planning to buy (~3.75 per foot), but the actual total project cost will be comparable.
About half the people I saw there were wearing masks, and they had one way in and out of the store. Customer service was excellent, as usual.