Disclaimer-Captain DIY and DIYtoFI.blog highly recommend exercising extreme caution when attempting DIY projects. Not everybody can do everything, and some things should only be done by professionals. Keep your digits attached, and keep the insurance company off of your back. Do it right or call the right people!
Lifetime Warrantee Versus Up-Front Cost
When your dear friend the Captain was making his way through trade school, there was one instructor who liked to emphasize a particular lesson: buy the higher quality tool now, and don’t bother with any “lifetime warrantee” business.
Over the course of my career I have owned many tools, and I can offer my opinion on the tools every homeowner needs based on experience with both crappy tools and those made for the elite professional.
What is a Lifetime Warrantee
Some stores will offer you full replacement of their product for the life of the product, and this doesn’t necessarily mean the product is no good. In fact, in many cases it indicates high quality, as the company stands to lose a lot of money if they have to keep giving away new products for free.
Rigid is a good example of this. Last I knew, they would replace any of their tools that broke under normal use for free, no matter the age of the tool, and without proof of purchase. They have a reputation for quality, and it is not very often that a replacement is needed.
On the other hand, a lifetime warrantee can be used as a ploy to lure in unsuspecting consumers who don’t realize that they are buying an inferior tool. Often these are marketed toward homeowner DIYers who will not be putting those tools through any real intense work, and therefore the lower quality tools will hold up long enough for the warrantee to be forgotten.
I will not be naming any examples, as I don’t wish to experience litigation.
The Real Scoop
When I decide to replace a tool, or add to the collection based on need, I will almost always go for the higher quality tool, regardless of loss of savings. As both a professional electrician and a homeowner DIYer, I recognize the importance of quality for several reasons:
- A higher quality tool usually means better performance, resulting in a more satisfactory work experience
- Having to exercise the lifetime warrantee in the middle of a project, well, plain old sucks
- The piece of mind I get knowing my tools are at least near the top of the line lets me engage in my work without worrying if the tool can handle the abuse
Take it From the Pros
I have worked closely with high-level professionals from a lot of different trades, and they have been nearly unanimous in their agreement with my instructor’s policy from above. The pros know that if they spend a little extra and buy the better quality tool, it will end up being the right decision.
As a DIYer, you may not expect to put the same kind of strain on your equipment as people who have their tools in hand forty or more hours per week. That doesn’t mean that your tools won’t be experiencing strain, however, and you don’t want to have to run to the hardware store for a new screwdriver in the middle of a window replacement project. Especially the you’re doing it in less than agreeable weather.
I don’t experience a whole lot of advertising, but I have noticed that the brands of tools I prefer tend not to advertise much. I’m guessing they base their lack of need to tell people who they are on having a well-known reputation among those who know best. If the best workers are using your tool, it’s probably because your tool is the best.
Is it Really That Important?
That, of course, is a question based on personal need. If you plan on doing this one little project as a test to see if you really want to get into DIY, maybe you don’t need to run out and spend a bunch of money on top-of-the-line tools. In that case, I’d suggest asking a friend if you can borrow what you need.
Another thing to remember is that your tools are only as good as the hands holding them. If you are not feeling confident or comfortable holding these tools, don’t invest in expensive tools hoping that they will increase your performance. I can go out and buy the best running shoes in the world, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see me in the next Olympics.
In conclusion, you need to think about what kind of a DIYer you think you’ll be, and if you feel like this may eventually turn into a side hustle. Whatever you do, don’t fall for any marketing traps, and only buy based on actual need. You’re not looking to impress the neighbors, you’re trying to get a job done. Now go out there and be awesome!