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.
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.