Wood Stairs » Misc » Cheap Stair Parts
What exactly are cheap stair parts? This is not as straightforward a question as it seems. Cheap parts can mean either the best value for identical products or an inexpensive alternative. This is a subtle distinction that can make all of the difference. So, let’s analyze these two virtually opposite ideas that are so often confused in this and many industries.
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Comparing two identical handrails, the lower priced of the two may be called “cheaper”. If they are both made from the same species and grade of wood and are manufactured to the same standards then the cheap version may be a good choice. The price difference here may be due to a better or more streamlined system, lower overhead, overstock, volume manufacturing and so on. Whatever the reason, cheaper, in this case, is better. Of course, there are always other considerations like time frame, service, guarantee, etc. But based on price alone the lower price is the best value.
The second variation of cheap is, unfortunately, more prevalent and rarely the best choice. This is because it implies a substantially lower cost which is typically not possible using the same quality of materials or manufacturing. Consider two box posts that look identical. One is manufactured from solid oak and has miter-locked corners using wood glue without nails to assemble it. The second post is made from veneered plywood with mitered corners that are glued and nailed together. Both posts look the same from a distance and even with close inspection, the visual differences are very small. However, newel posts are one of the most important structural components of a staircase. The solid post is not only stronger, better built and more durable but if damaged it can be easily sanded and refinished to be like new. The veneered plywood box post is not as strong and has nail holes along the mitered corners. These holes must be puttied and are virtually impossible to eliminate completely. If this post is damaged it cannot be sanded and refinished because the outer wood surface, or veneer, is less than 1/16″ of an inch thick. Of course, this second version is dramatically “cheaper”. Now, this really isn’t a fair comparison of price and if the lower quality post is represented as similar or even if the differences are not disclosed, it is very misleading to the customer. This is because these are in fact two completely different products. This would be like comparing a custom solid hardwood entertainment center with a Wal-Mart plywood veneered cabinet. This is not to bash on Wal-Mart but to illustrate that to make an honest price comparison you would have to be comparing the same product. So, the lesson to take from this is to always ensure that you are comparing identical or relevant components. Otherwise, you will never know if you got the best deal or not. If you are truly looking for “cheap stair parts”, perhaps for an attic or garage stair, then go ahead and Google that term but even then make sure your comparisons are of similar items. If you are looking for the best value, it is better to leave the word cheap out of the search term altogether because we all know that it does have that negative connotation of lower quality and you will get more of those results.
There are several reputable online companies who specialize in stair parts. Of these, WoodStairs is an online leader. We have over 30 years of installation experience and we began over a decade ago pioneering the online stair parts industry. We are proud of the products and services we provide in helping our customers build quality wood and iron stairs and balustrades. We strive to ensure that our products are accurately categorized and described to ensure that our customers understand exactly what they are getting and can then compare “apples to apples”. This is critical to ensuring customer satisfaction because while from a distance the solid entertainment center may look similar to the cheap Wal-Mart version; if you are expecting them to be the same in your living room you will be sorely disappointed in the long run. Finally, there is one more important factor to consider when looking at stair parts, shipping. It is a sad fact that many online retailers, across all industries, are no-good, sneaky, con artists; and, that is being polite. While we as consumers are getting savvier it is still important to make sure that when you are comparing prices to look at the final total which includes tax, shipping and handling. Woodstairs.com offers a low price guarantee on all of our products. Because of this, we get calls daily from customers who believe they have found a better price on the same product. I’ll be honest, there are occasions when we do drop a price to beat competitors but almost 90% of the time when shipping is added to the price of the product our total is better. This is because, in order to entice people to buy, some companies will decrease the product price and increase shipping and handling to make up the difference. Usually, when we get a call where something is dramatically less, we approach it from the standpoint of “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
So, from all of this, what is the best way to ensure that your cheap stair parts are exactly what you want and at the best value? Well, do a little research and if there is any uncertainty at all, pick up the phone and call the company. Usually, just asking the right questions will get you to the facts in short order.