What You Need to Know About Cull Lumber

1
Use Cull Lumber to Save on Your Next Project

culllumber.jpg
Cull Lumber. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Need lumber for an upcoming project, but not keen on paying full price for it? Locate the cull lumber rack at your local hardware store or lumberyard, and see if you can get what you need there.

2
What is Cull Lumber?

Lumber Pile
Lumber Pile. ImageSource/Getty Images

Cull lumber is lumber that has been pulled from inventory because it is damaged in some way or is a piece leftover from trimming. It might be warped; have a split in it or have a chunk missing. Or, it may simply be the leftovers after they made a cut for another customer. Whatever the reason, cull lumber is cheap, cheap, cheap.

  • Cull means to choose or select, especially when separating the preferred from the inferior. 
  • Cull Lumber Synonyms: culled lumber, scrap bin lumber.

3
Where to Find Cull Lumber

Rack of Wood
Rack of Wood. Michael Blann/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Look for a rack at the back of the lumber section or near the cutting area. If you don't see one there, ask an associate where it's located. If they have never heard of cull lumber, ask about the scrap bin.

4
Prices for Cull Lumber

Measuring a Board
Measuring a Board. Amy Kay/First Light/Getty Images

You will see cull lumber sold in various ways. It may have a standard price per stick no matter the dimensions, such as 51 cents per stick. Or, it could be bundled together and sold by the bundled. You may even see a free scrap bin when they don't want to waste the effort to label and sell it.

5
How to Shop the Cull Rack

Lumberyard
Lumberyard. Arne Pastoor/STOCK4B/Getty Images

Look for wood with damage that would be easy to cut off or work around. If you project doesn't need perfect pieces (such as a cat condo that's going to be covered in carpeting), you don't have to worry about blemishes, but you may not want pieces that are very warped. Then, measure to see if there are enough good board feet past the damaged area to meet your needs. When you find something that works, load it into your cart before someone else gets a chance to grab it. Cull lumber moves quickly.

Don't see everything you need? The cull lumber inventory changes daily, so it may be worth checking back tomorrow.

6
Tips for Buying Cull Lumber

Stacked Lumber
Stacked Lumber. Image Source/Getty Images

  • Ask an associate what day(s) they get their lumber deliveries. This will generally be the best day to visit the cull rack. You will also be able to buy more quantities of similar pieces, such as 2x4 culls from a delivery. If you need more than one or two pieces, this is a good strategy.
  • When you see a damaged board in the regular inventory, ask if you can have it at a discount.
  • Check the cull rack every time you shop, and build up a stash of discounted 2x4s and other commonly used board sizes. If you have enough storage space for it at home, you will never get stuck paying full price for lumber for small projects.
  • At some stores, the clerk has to ring up each piece separately, and you may be able to work a deal on multiple pieces, just ask for the price of an intact board. Don't be afraid to bargain, you are saving the store time and effort while taking their scraps off their hands.

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