Often your local lumberyard does not stock or have the capability to order all the products for a particular project. Sometimes a single vendor has all the materials, but will not distribute to residential customers or you geography. My journey to select the cladding material for my addition took me from various trade shows to vendor discussion via email and phone.
The best residential construction show occurs during Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas. The world converges to the NAHB International Builders’ Show in the early part of the year for 3 days of exhibits, education, and the ability to see products in context of an actual building, not just a small sample. Regional shows like Dwell on Design expand on modern materials.
The best relationship you can have are with local representatives of suppliers. They will help you walk through project objectives, give you tips, and answer any questions you have. I have saved in installation getting a better handle on products before I’ve purchased, making virtual models and installing the products on computer simulations before a single drill or saw starts.
I search the internet for videos and downloadable manuals of competitive products. One instruction set may help in the installation of another similar product. Obviously, the vendor manual is sacrosanct when it come to warranty, but other manufactures often have more information or unique local perspectives not available.
Home Improvement Retailer
In my area, there are the big box home improvement retailers, the indepenent specialty distributors, and building material dealers. Each one has their advantages. After shopping at each variety of distributor, I get the majority of materials from the big box stores. They have fantastic return policies and delivery prices, and with patience can source most anything you need.
For my current cladding phase of my project, I actually got buiding materials and supplies from no less than 10 stores. I ordered stainless steel cladding fasteners from PMP Building Products, fiber cement panels and reveals from Lowe’s, aluminum window flashing from Tamlyn, torx insert bits and holders from amazon.com, sealants and nippers from Essential Hardware, bi-cellular backer rod from DK Hardware, carbide blades on eBay, and a water-resistive barrier from The Home Depot.