Want to do it yourself, become a DIY expert?
You have as much chance of getting expert advice on home improvement materials and installation methods at a
Big Box retailer as you do in winning a major lottery. Of course if you do win the lottery you can always hire experts to help you choose the materials and provide the installation.
In most cases the poor advice given is due to a lack of specific product training and having little if any actual experience in any area of home improvement as a tradesman or profession.
The greatest number of clerks at any of the big box retailers are part-time employees who either work at the big-box to augment their incomes or because they are going to school to become something that has nothing to do with home improvement or repair. The primary function of a clerk at a big box retailer is to ensure that the products are stacked neatly on the shelves, that aisles are clear of debris and to point customers in the right direction within the store on where specific merchandise is. All big box retailers merchandise the products that they sell in order to promote self service - they offer lower prices because they provide very little in professional service.
Where are the biggest areas of poor advice? I can only speak for myself, but I find that it is specific application of materials. Following are some areas that I have encountered where the wrong product, for the application, was recommended. Luckily, I read the label or had advanced product knowledge before buying the product.
- Caulking – caulking has matured over the years and now there are specific types of caulking for almost every job. Some caulking will not adhere to certain materials, some can be painted, some are specially designed for indoors, and others are designed for high heat applications (to mention only a few variations). I was handed a cartridge of indoor caulking to repair a crack around a window frame and brick veneer.
- Electrical devices – I asked for a dryer receptacle and was given electricity is not something that you want to get wrong.
- Adhesive for PVC pipe – I was given adhesive for ABS pipe (the label specifically said,
Not For PVC Pipein bold letters), after pointing out the error, I was given the correct adhesive, without a recommendation to use PVC cleaner before applying the adhesive.
- Screws – I was given a box of drywall screws when I requested flooring screws.
This article is not a
complaint against big box retailers. They provide a great function, they have everything under one roof and because of their existence the cost of home improvement and repair materials has gone down in price. And, in order for them to keep prices low, as a general statement, they cannot afford to have
experts on staff.
Product knowledge is one of the keys to a successful home improvement project, whether it is small or large. Invest some time before you buy, visit the Internet and get the knowledge that will allow you to do the job right - the first time, it will save you time and money. And when you do buy material, take a moment and read the label to ensure that you understand its safety, recommended use and how to install it.