Did You Know You Can Return Building Materials?

Clear up some clutter in your workshop and make a little money by returning those unused building materials.

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It happens: You overestimated the amount of building materials you needed for your project. Well, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating what you spent on those unused items.

But did you know you can return building supplies and get back some of the money you spent — that is, if you haven’t earmarked those materials for your next project.

Each major retailer has specific return policies. For instance, The Home Depot allows most new, unopened merchandise to be returned within 90 days of purchase, with some exceptions. For pro customers, it’s even longer. The Home Depot has a 365-day return policy for purchases made with its consumer credit card, commercial revolving charge or commercial account.

Lowe’s return policies are similar. Most new, unused materials can be refunded or exchanged within 90 days of the original purchase date. That time increases to 365 days for purchases made with a Lowe’s commercial account (LCA), business advantage (LBA), advantage card (LAC) or business rewards (LBR).

Here are the return policies for other major retailers: Menards; Ace Hardware; True Value; 84 Lumber; and Harbor Freight.

What Will You Need to Make the Return?

Most major retailers require proof of purchase in the form of a print or digital receipt. If you didn’t pay cash, you will likely also need the credit card you used when making the purchase. Some stores may be able to look up your purchase in their system with your card, but it’s a safer bet to hold on to that receipt just in case. The item(s) you are returning must be unopened and/or in new or like new condition.

What are Some Exceptions?

There are a few caveats to remember when returning building materials. First, the product can’t be damaged. So you can’t choose a piece of wood you’ve cut down and return it for a discounted price.

If it’s lumber that’s been sitting outside warping in the rain, you’re unlikely to get your money back, though that’s at the discretion of the store manager. Some stores might take cut wood if it was sold by the foot.

Also — and this should go without saying —  your refund on returned materials will be what you paid. Don’t bring back 2x4s you bought before the recent supply shortage and expect to be reimbursed at today’s higher lumber rates.

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Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.