What does “Builders Grade” mean? Why should I care?

The term builder grade can make it sound as if you are getting a great building product. This makes sense, since infusing the word “builder” into the phrase makes it sound as if you are getting a building product that contractors would die for. However, the exact opposite is true. Not only is a builder grade quality product not the best out there, but this actually means that you are getting the lowest possible, acceptable quality building products. Any serious construction, replacement or repair project will not include anything of this quality.

What problems can builder grade materials cause?

Low quality materials can cause a long list of problems. Let’s take a look at how they can affect the functionality and durability of different parts of your home:

Windows

You might think that glass is glass, but builder grade windows will cost you a lot of money over time. They provide almost no insulation; this will cause your energy bill to be significantly higher than it should be. Builder grade windows can also warp to create gaps, letting the outside air — and worse, critters — into your home. In some cases, these factors can even reduce the effectiveness of your home’s HVAC system.

Doors

Your entryway door is another place where the outside air will try to infiltrate your home, causing your energy rates to skyrocket. In fact, between your windows and doors, you can be paying an additional 25% in heating and cooling costs if they are builder grade. In addition to this, builder grade doors are usually hollow; this means that whether they are your front door or your bedroom door, they are highly susceptible to warping and breaking.

Siding

Regardless of the climate that you live in, builder grade siding will break in no time. Here are a few of the weather conditions that it is highly susceptible to:

  • Wind
  • Sunlight
  • Snow
  • Rain
  • Low temperatures
  • High temperatures

The damage often happens in several months to a few years, and manifests itself in the form of cracks, chipping, fading, peeling and falling off.

Roofing

Using builder grade roofing could end up being one of the most expensive home repair mistakes that you make. Like siding of the same quality, builder grade roofing is highly susceptible to damage from the elements that it is constantly exposed to. As this low quality roofing becomes damaged and falls off, it exposes your roof to damage. The labor costs to continually get this repaired quickly add up as well.

Style

Builder grade products are usually mass-produced. In order to optimize these production methods, very few non-utilitarian design elements are included in builder grade products. A builder grade kitchen cabinet, for example, will be little more that a series of bland rectangles with doors on them.

If builder grade materials are so awful, then why do they exist?

Builder grade products exist because despite their low quality, they do work. A builder grade front door made from builder grade materials, for example, is capable of handling the stress of regular use despite its numerous drawbacks. As a result, they are often used in short-term or low-budget home enhancement projects. A builder can install a decent looking builders grade door to save money vs installing a heavy, high quality door.

What are the alternatives to builder grade materials?

The three alternative categories, listed from lowest to highest quality, are quality grade, custom grade and ultra custom grade. Manufacturers are so certain of these materials that they often come with decades long warranties. Ask our experts about these types of building products when you contact us for your free estimate!