Thursday Doors–Kelly-Fradet

Lumber Barn
Lumber barn

When I have projects like the Mission Style Closet Doors or the Cedar Wainscoting to make, the process involves going through the doors shown at the right. No big-box can match the quality or selection of the wood that these guys sell. The local Home Depot and the not-so-local Lowes stock some of the lumber I’ve used in these projects, but it’s usually warped, and it’s almost always more expensive than this lumber yard. Also, and perhaps most annoying, there’s a price sticker permanently glued onto every single board I buy at those stores. I hate that.

Warning: Lumber yards are not home centers. You don’t walk into Kelly-Fradet and start loading up your cart. You talk to a salesperson, you tell him or her (but usually him) what you want, he tells you what your options are, and you either agree to proceed or not. If you’re buying lumber, and you agree to proceed, you’re going into the barn.

The barn is a magical place.

The big-box presents you with bin after bin of questionable quality boards that have been picked over so many times that you have to move 10 out of the way to find one good one. In the barn, everything is lying flat. You can pick through the stack if you like, but most boards are very good quality. If the board has issues, the salesman will usually point it out – “you don’t want that one.” I’ve taken some boards that have loose knots or damage, when I’ve known that I could cut around it. They appreciate that. On the other hand, if I need (n) feet of clear wood, they will help me find it.

Inside the Barn
This is what a lumber department should look like.

The barn is interesting on its own. It’s old and it was purpose-built to stock lumber. There are multiple levels and you can “go upstairs and poke around” if you like. When I had my cabinet shop, this lumber yard was owned by a different company. In addition to lumber, they were a fully stocked hardware store. I was there often. I continued shopping there after I closed my shop, because I still knew the staff. If we had to go into the barn, they would let our daughter Faith climb the stairs and go across the little bridge. I’ve been yelled at in Home Depot for moving one of their portable stair things. Liability, don’t ya know.

Most people think that the big box stores are faster and cheaper. I have found them to be just the opposite. They are convenient, in that they probably have everything you need, but if you only need one thing, you will be in and out of your local hardware store in way less time. If you’re buying building material (lumber, windows, doors, siding, etc.) you are going to spend more money at a big box unless you compromise on quality.

When we were planning the renovation on our house in which we tore off the low-pitched roof and replaced it with a Gambrel roof, I shopped around for lumber. I needed a lot of lumber. When I gave my bill of material to the big boys, the guy at Lowes simply noted their price for each component. The guy at Home Depot told me that the prices were all available online. When I took the list into Kelly-Fradet, the salesman asked to see my plans.

I was very happy to show him those plans.

The lumber for our renovation.

We spent over half an hour talking about the plans and the material being used. In three significant places, he recommended a more substantial and expensive product. They had a better sub-floor material. He recommended plywood sheathing instead of wafer board and he recommended thicker than required by code roof rafters because using them would let me put more insulation in.

I like to make things stronger, but I was worried about my budget. The next day, he emailed me a quote. With all three recommended upgrades, Kelly-Fradet’s cost was about 25% lower than Home Depot’s. Delivery (that pile shown on the right) was a flat fee of $25.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fun and interesting Thursday Doors series. You can join us any Thursday.

56 thoughts on “Thursday Doors–Kelly-Fradet

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  1. Every DIYer who reads this is just nodding their head in confirmation. We have two lumber yards where we go when we need the ‘good stuff.’ I’ve been at Home Depot when my husband tries to find one board and we go through an entire stack trying, key word trying, to find one that is straight. Like your lumber door. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. Fortunately for me, Kelly-Fradet is about 2 miles up the road from Home Depot. I’ve gone into the Depot and done the put-10-aside-to-find-one and then I shake my head and get back in the car.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Preaching to the converted here too.
    I rarely find the big boxes to be more convenient and for good quality, they usually are noticeably more expensive.
    And I just love it when a salesperson takes the time and asks to see your plan or just asks questions to get an understanding of what the customer might really need vs. what they THINK they need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. I’m in good company, then. I also like it when they take the time to understand and then explain a better option to me. As you say, not what they are trying to move today, but actually better for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a place that must be Dan. I used to go to a similar place with my son and as I looked at your images I could imagine the smell in that place. Nothing like the aroma of wood. The building itself is a work of art.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome, Dan. I feel so educated when I finish reading your posts. It is a treat to get both your perspective and experience. BTW: the woodworker was able to repair my chair. I got to see his shop, and he showed me both the repair and his attempts to match the sixty year old finish. It might be easier to just restain all the chairs! But, I feel good in that I have another resource in case I decide to continue flipping furniture.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I’m glad to hear that the chair could be repaired. I might have been able to do that, but matching the finish would have driven me crazy. I like hearing the stories of your “finds” and their next life.


  5. Brings back many memories of childhood. What a great tribute to a worthwhile business (as well as Thursday doir entry). I hope you share this with the guys at the lumberyard – also seems like a local newspaper or tv station would be interested in this as a feature. Why not?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course, you might have to tone down the Home Depot comparison, but I think it’s a great community service to see businesses featured with this kind of positive specificity on their attributes.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Isn’t that interesting? I’d think just the opposite, like what kind of independent business can be lower than corporate/bulk pricing? Wow. Good to know. Corporate dental, cheaper. Corporate grocery, cheaper. Corporate pizza, cheaper. Corporate lumber, more expensive!
    Obviously we don’t do much woodworking…It is obvious, right? but it’s good to know, regardless.
    I love a big red barn. I think it’s a requirement of Midwesterners.
    Great doors and wonderful info!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not cheaper for everything. If you need two 2x4s, the big box is cheaper. If you need enough lumber to build a porch or add on a room, lumber yard. Also, much better information, but you need to know what you want/need to a degree. Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great place! Our local lumber yard sold out to a chain, but we still have a local hardware store where you can get just about anything. The downside is that they have no patience with people who want to return something. They’re like, “Why didn’t you get the right thing in the first place?”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I LOVE the smell of a lumber yard! Whenever we do any building we deal with lumber yards too. Hubby is rebuilding our front stairs on our front porch made out of cedar. The shocking thing we have found out is how expensive cedar has gotten, and it is getting harder to find, much less quality cedar lumber. Good luck on the building! You always seem to be doing some kind of remodeling or building. You must be rubbing off on hubs because lately he is doing the same thing. I’ll give you a “ring” when he gets to the bathrooms. God help me! LOL Great post, Dan!!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have been waiting all my life to see a business that keeps their main wood supply under cover. As in, under a roof, not a tarp. We have no Home Depot up here, but there are two smaller franchise businesses with lumber yards. Now yes, they do keep SOME of their materials in buildings. But most of their lumber is kept in piles outside, with tarps that are hastily pulled over them when it rains. I hate that. I have always hated that. Much like you, my dad has been carpentering (did I just make up that word?) his whole life, and nearly every project since I was 4 has been completed with my help. And even as a little kid, I used to ask why these places thought it was okay to leave all that wood out in the elements to get warped and ruined. So your post today warmed my heart, Dan. So much so that I didn’t even notice the doors. ;P

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks Wendy. The only stuff these guys keep outside is the treated lumber. They have a huge warehouse across town. Sometimes, if you need a lot of pieces, they send you there or they deliver from there. I could spend all day in that barn.


  10. “but it’s usually warped, and it’s almost always more expensive than this lumber yard. Also, and perhaps most annoying, there’s a price sticker permanently glued onto every single board I buy at those stores. I hate that.”

    Ping! Perfect resonance!

    I have another gripe with those stores: the grading marks. I helped a guy with a bookcase and every one of his pine boards had a wax pen mark AND a end stain that had to be sanded off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry that you feel my pain but it’s good to know that it’s not my imagination. I have also found the grade marks, which are a huge pain on open grained wood like oak. Thanks!


    1. Yeah, no surprise there at all Lois. Those guys put a lot of lumber yards out of business here too. K-F survives, and one private one a couple of towns south of us. It’s scary.


  11. This was a really cool idea for Thursday’s Doors post, maningful and informative, Dan. I like the idea of a place to just buy wood. We have a regular old fashioned Hardware Exchange where guys stop in to have a cup of coffee or buy a pop, stop and chat. It is a great place for a single woman who may need advice on different things that happen to require hardware. We also have a “rehab” place one guy I dated loved, called the “Restore.” People can sell used household items like sinks or tubs. I liked and really “desired” these gorgeous wooden pedestals from a church. If I had my past home, with an ex, I would have put some art pieces on these. My brother made me three blown glass sculptures. I have them currently in my apt. on an antique dresser where I store tablecloths and small decorations. I put ears of Indian corn, wooden apples and paper mache (or ceramic) pumpkins around them. Not sure if artist brother would cringe or not. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a Restore nearby as well. My wife and I love looking through, and shake our heads at the stuff that has been set aside. We have picked up a few things to use in our renovations, but we’re always tempted. As you say Robin, we can look and think “ooh, I could use that for…” the thoughts are endless. I’m glad you liked today’s post. I’d love to be hanging at a hardware exchange. We used to have a store that encouraged that but it went out of business.


  12. It sounds like a wonderful place. Our favorite lumber yard closed last year. The son who inherited the store/company was offered SOOOOO much money for the property the son decided he couldn’t or would be a fool to refuse. He, and his wife could both retire and live large, and his children wouldn’t ever have to work. We miss it. I wonder if he does? :)

    There must be places we don’t know about though because our contractor didn’t use Home Depot or Lowes to get the wood to frame our new addition, or get our doors, or windows. But, when we were shopping for a new front door we found one at Home Depot we liked so we had our contractor buy it. When it arrived they gushed over it and were totally surprised that we found such good quality for the price at Home Depot. Since then we’ve learned that door is no longer available. We were really blessed on that one, and it was only $17 over over our budget/allowance for a front door!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was a great find on that door. When I had my shop, I could buy at places that only sell to contractors. Your contractors might have an option like that. Home Depot is still trying to court contractors around here.

      The door no longer being carried is another thing that bugs me about the big boxes. They stopped carrying the faucet we bought and we couldn’t get parts for it. They stopped carrying a style of storm door after we replaced the two on our porch but before we could match our side door. I guess I should have bought all three at once.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I bet it does. My dad was a carpenter and I remember that lovely smell of freshly sawn wood that hung about his clothes when he came home from work. When my son began his apprenticeship as a wood machinist, it brought back memories for me. I still love that smell.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah, yes. I imagine going to that barn would remind me of going to 84 Lumber and places like that with my grandfather when I was a boy.

    Certain smells do that — wood, Creosote, paint, gasoline. But certain sights do too, like the lighting section of Home Depot or Lowe’s. My grandfather was an electrician, but he could do anything that involved building and repairing things, and I always enjoyed riding in his truck to get supplies and later doing whatever he said I could do to help (precious little when I was a kid, but hey — he was a good guy).

    Thanks for the memories, Dan. Not that I need much to jog them — I have his picture nearby as I type this. But it’s nice to revisit those days in my mind, and your post did that for me today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Paul. Thanks for sharing the reason. You also make me remember going to 84 Lumber with my dad. We often went to Silhol Brothers, in the town where we lived, but he would go to 84 for certain things. Like your grandfather, he seemed to be able to fix or build anything. Those are good memories.

      Liked by 1 person

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