Buying an Aluminum Deck Railing - 3 Often Ignored Tips That Can Save You Money
Late summer / early fall is a great time to begin your DIY aluminum deck railing project. For one thing, the summer heat starts to taper off and the days provide much more pleasant work conditions. For another, there are usually some great deals to be had on materials as vendors try to clear out old inventory to make room for new products. Because, let's face it, in the end many of us are choosing to DIY, because we want to save money. Sure, there's the personal satisfaction, the quality time with friends, etc; but, when it comes right down to it, if it were cheaper to hire somebody to do it for us, we'd be just as happy sitting back with a cold one and watching the game, or better yet, playing catch in the backyard with our kids.
So, with the acknowledgement that one of our biggest motivations as DIY'ers is to save as much money as possible while still achieving great results, we have to think about little ways in which we can cut costs without changing the quality of the materials or workmanship. Below are a few tips for doing just that.
Assemble On Site - Did you know that you can often save money on shipping costs by assembling your own aluminum railing vs. having it factory assembled and/or welded. How? Well, many box railing systems like Westbury Aluminum Railing can be shipped via small package delivery services like UPS or FexEx, whereas assembled systems usually have to ship via LTL truck. If you are responsible for paying the shipping, the difference in price can be significant (double or more)! Even if you get free shipping, there are often additional charges from LTL trucking companies such as lift gate fees and residential delivery fees that may or may not be included.
Choose Long Railing Sections - Pre-fabricated aluminum railing sections typically come in standard lengths (ie. 3' to 8'). There are a couple of ways in which choosing the longest sections possible can save you money. First, using longer sections requires fewer posts. For example, 2 - 4' sections in a straight line would require 3 posts, 1 on each end, and 1 in the middle; but, 1 - 8' section only requires 2 posts, eliminating the one in the middle.
Second, lets say, hypothetically, that you need two 4' aluminum railing sections for a particular deck. The two 4' sections are $120 each, plus $20 shipping ($10 per box). On the other hand, lets say that, due to manufacturing efficiencies or some other reason, an 8' section is only $200.00 plus $15 shipping. So, even though the 8' railing is twice as long, it isn't twice as expensive. In both cases you would have 8 total ft of railing, but one is $45 less. The 8' railing section would require that you cut it, so it would take more of your time; but, for an extra few minutes of your time and a little more work, you could potentially save a good amount of money.
Ultimately the length of the railing sections you choose is a matter of personal preference, but there are advantages to choosing the longest sections possible. The trick is to choose the sections that will also leave you with the least amount of wasted material. In other words, just use good common sense....you wouldn't want to cut an 8' section into 6' and then throw away 2 ft. In that case, it would be better to just buy the 6' section.
*The figures above are hypothetical and not meant to convey specific pricing information. Prices vary across products and manufacturers.
Be Social - You've probably heard of sites Groupon and Living Social where you can get great deals on a wide variety of goods and services by utilizing the buying power of a large group of consumers. Well, an aluminum deck railing may not be dinner for 2 at the hottest new spot in town, but pooling your buying power with neighbors, friends, and family still has benefits. Many online railing suppliers offer free shipping and/or quantity discounts for orders that meet or exceed a certain dollar amount. The amount, which varies, can be larger than the typical, or "average", size residential order. However, by grouping your order with friends or neighbors, you can usually exceed the threshold and take advantage of the best deals.
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- Extreme How-To , Home Improvement Know How When You Need It
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