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The Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing DIY Project Materials

You’ve just been given the go-ahead on a project you’ve been seeking approval for. Now what?

When it comes to choosing materials, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start, especially if working on a new kind of project you haven’t undertaken before.

Luckily for you, the experts at Alsford have put their heads together to produce 5 handy tips to help you choose the right materials for the job. We’ve also enlisted the help of Vikkie Lee, from The Carpenter’s Daughter to give us her insight into how she goes about selecting materials.

As Vikkie says: “There’s nothing worse than building something in the wrong materials and needing to do it all over again”. So, it’s important to make sure you choose the right products the first time around - read on to make sure you never waste project time again!

1.   What Are Your Project ‘must-haves’?

Before anything else, it’s important to establish the fundamentals of your project.  Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the bare essentials that your project needs?
  • What is the nature of the task at hand?
  • Will you need to visit multiple suppliers to get what you need?
  • Do you know your measurements?
  • Do you have a budget?
  • How long are you planning to spend on this project?

Then think ahead: Do you know what you want the finished product to look like? And, have you decided what your preferences are for materials?

Consider any existing structures in place. Do you need the new work to fit into the style of the older work? Are you looking for uniformity in your timber style? All of these features will have an influence on the products you’ll need.


2.   Consider Your Project Goals

Once bare bones are established, you can begin thinking about the more detailed aspects of your project. You’d be surprised how many elements have an impact on your choice of materials in the end.

If you have a project deadline of just a few weeks, it would be wise to source your materials ahead of time. It’s a good idea to make a list of what you need and contact your local timber merchants in advance of starting your project to make sure you aren’t delayed by waiting for materials.

This way, you can factor in the time taken for delivery and collection. Nothing is worse than having to extend your project’s deadline on account of waiting for your timber to arrive. This also applies to the sourcing of specialist or custom materials. Sometimes items will need to be made especially for your project (such as a custom architrave) which may take longer to arrive.

Factors such as the location and the weather also play a role in material choice. If you’re erecting a structure that will be constantly exposed to the elements in a cold climate, you might want to opt for a more resilient type of timber. In this case, you can always seek advice from the experts at Alsford Timber who can point you in the right direction.

As well as asking the professionals, you can also do your own research. Consider what timber would be best for the job, what the unique properties of certain timbers are, and decide from there. As Vikkie told us: “If in doubt, do lots of research.  I always do a rehearsal in my head or things like dry lays, to see if I need to buy anything else for the job and answer any concerns I may have.”


3.   Don’t Compromise on Quality

Whilst it might be tempting to cut corners, the quality of the timber should stand as a key priority in every project.

For Vikkie, quality is one of the most important things to consider when buying materials. She told us: “I think about the end-use, finish and durability.  Do I need something hard-wearing?  Weatherproof?”.

Obviously, when you build a structure, you’re aiming to ensure it is durable and resilient. In order for a building to enjoy longevity, the materials it is made with need to be able to withstand the test of time themselves.

That’s why it's best to trust timber merchants like Alsford who believe that when it comes to timber, quality is king. For those looking for a high-quality finish, products such as our Premium Grade Redwood are guaranteed to be free of knots or cracks, ensuring a first-class finish on every project.  

Not compromising on quality means that the main component of your project is dependable and sturdy which bodes well for the rest of the work.


4.   Price Range

With that being said, not every project you encounter is going to have (or need) a big budget. If this is the case, it is wise to consult with your local timber merchant so that you know you are only buying exactly what you need for the job. It is much easier to plan out what you need in advance than it is to buy incorrectly and have to return goods after all.

If the timber you’re purchasing seems excessively cheap, and the deal you're given seems too good to be true, it’s usually because it is. Working with a respected, trustworthy merchant is a good way to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth.


5.   Scale

Lastly, consider how large the project is.

How much timber do you need? Are you going to need a large order? In which case, it would be wise to call ahead to your local timber merchants (especially if they are a smaller branch) and see if they have what you need in stock at the moment. If you need a more specialist product or service, such as bespoke profiling, it is likely you would need to call in advance.

Vikki also described scale as an influencing factor on her choice of materials, writing about the “accessibility of whether I can get it home in my van or need it to be delivered”.

Many people will overlook this as a minor detail, but forgetting the actual size of timber can throw a major spanner in the works. It’s best, then, to either choose materials that you can transport yourself or look into delivery options. Luckily for you, Alsford has its very own fleet, complete with HIABs (lorries with mounted cranes), making delivery a breeze. What’s more, the majority of the time, delivery is free if the order is large enough.

While it is easy to get wrapped up in the larger task at hand, you shouldn’t forget the smaller components, like your fixings! Sometimes these smaller elements can end up pushing your budget to its limit, so keeping them in mind from the get-go is a much better approach. Whatever materials your project requires, from timber to tools, get in touch with your local Alsford branch for a comprehensive range of high-quality products.