DIY projects: remember to figure waste

Posted by Jeffrey Anderson ~ May 9, 2013

You're starting the last row of tile when installing a new kitchen floor only to discover that all the ceramic boxes are empty. What happened? Few things can be as frustrating as running out of material while doing a home remodeling project, especially when you were so careful about calculating how much was needed for the job. More times than not the problem is simple: you forgot to figure the waste that is a part of almost every home improvement project.

Remodeling waste: How much to figure for your project?

Whether you're a seasoned DIYer or just strapping on a tool belt for the first time, there's a pretty good chance there's going to be some waste during your home improvement jobs. After all, even professional contractors figure in a little extra when estimating their phase of work.

At best, coming up short can mean having to stop work for an unplanned trip to the local building supply outlet. However, when working with materials such as ceramic tile or brick that are manufactured by "lot," running out can mean having trouble matching the color shade of the initial batch.

So how do you know how much waste to figure for a particular type of remodeling project? One of the best sources for estimating information is the staff where you're purchasing the materials. Many building supply companies hire former contractors who have years of experience or at the very least, are knowledgeable about estimating various types of materials. Here's a few waste factors for remodeling materials that may be helpful when planning your job:

  • Hardwood flooring -- Hardwood Floors, the magazine of the National Wood Floors Association, suggests figuring a minimum of 5 percent over the square footage of the room for premium grade flooring. You may need to go as high as 10 percent for lesser grades.
  • Ceramic tile flooring -- Figure how many tiles you need for the actual square footage of the room and then add 10 percent. If the room has a lot of angles or the tile is being laid on a diagonal, increase the waste factor to 15 percent.
  • Vinyl siding -- A good rule of thumb for figuring vinyl siding waste is to allow enough material to cover all the windows and doors in the exterior walls.
  • Wall framing studs -- Many professional construction estimators figure a 2-by-4 every 12 inches of wall length to allow for lumber waste.

These average waste factors are based on you having a few DIY projects on your resume. If you're just starting out, it may be a good idea to add a little extra.

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