Black Friday is renowned for its spectacular once-a-year deals, and this time around, several big retailers are kicking off their deals early. If you're contemplating a little home improvement—from a new backsplash to a full-on overhaul of your bathroom or kitchen—these sales can be a great time to grab what you need for low, low, low prices.
And yet, not everything you see around Black Friday is a bargain. The trick is to know what to look for, and what to avoid like so many lumps of coal. So to help you out, we asked some consumer advocates to point out three real deals, as well as three rip-offs to avoid.
Buy: Major appliances
Major appliances—we're talking fridge, oven, dishwasher—are a Black Friday specialty. So if you're looking to renovate your kitchen you're in luck.
"Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are looking to clear space for holiday products, so there will be deep discounts," says Chad Hall of RemodelMate.
And the deals get even better if you're looking to buy these appliances together as a suite.
"The more items they can move in one swoop, the deeper the savings," Hall adds. "We purchased a suite of kitchen appliances on a client's behalf that would have usually cost around $5,000. She ended up paying only $1,500."
On Black Friday last year, Sears gave an additional $150 off a Samsung kitchen suite (fridge, stove, microwave, and dishwasher) that was already discounted over 30%, and a $100 rebate on a Frigidaire suite after a 33% discount. Lowe's and Home Depot had similar 30%–40% discounts on suites from brands such as LG and Samsung.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, appliances are the third-biggest expense in the average kitchen remodel, eating up 14% of the budget—so taking a third off that cost will help your bottom line in a big way.
Don't buy: Smaller appliances
Tempted to toss in a blender with that fridge and oven? Resist! Stores are less motivated to clear out smaller items, since they aren't space hogs.
This rule, however, has one big exception: If the appliance is popular as a holiday gift (e.g., juicers, coffee makers, wine fridges), good deals may indeed be found on Cyber Monday online, since internet vendors aren't as limited by floor space as brick-and-mortar stores and are eager to entice those hordes of holiday shoppers with a few "gateway deals." For example, last year, Lowes.com offered 50% off a Scott Living wine fridge, a Bella toaster, and a Ninja blender system.
Buy: Smart home devices
Black Friday is a great time to find discounts on smart home devices because they make great gifts, according to Allen Shayanfekr, CEO of Sharestates.
Last year, Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Target had Nest Cameras at 25% off, while Amazon offered 50% off a Samsung SmartThings hub. For such devices, in-store Black Friday prices and online prices on Cyber Monday should be consistent—but be sure to double-check. If you're willing to skip the pie, you might be able to grab a door-buster deal on some electronics.
Don't buy: Carpet, paint, wood, or granite
"I would avoid purchasing anything that's not electronic—paint, carpet, tile, wood, granite—because retailers have no incentive to have these items on sale," says Hall.
Building materials aren't going to be on most people's holiday gift lists, so prices are going to stay right where they are. And buying anything that requires you to place a specific order, like a granite countertop or wall-to-wall carpeting, is not a smart Black Friday goal. Employees are going to be frazzled dealing with the hordes of shoppers scooping up deals. It's better to go on a day when you can have somebody's full attention.
Buy: Power tools
Power tools are another "gift" item that you can give yourself if you're planning to DIY any part of your remodel. In 2016, Lowe's and Home Depot both had savings up to 50% on items such as drills, saws, compressors, sanders, and nail guns. Sure, maybe your DIY backsplash tile job doesn't technically require a brand-new eight-tool lithium ion cordless set, but at $150 off the regular price, you're practically saving money by treating yourself to new tools. Right?
Don't buy: Tile, vanities, toilets
If you're remodeling the bathroom, Black Friday won't be a savings jackpot. According to Hall, stores don't routinely offer major discounts on items such as tiles, vanities, or toilets. In fact, you could end up paying more.
"Last year, our team worked on a kitchen renovation around Black Friday," he says. "Tile is usually around $4.50 per square foot, but the homeowner ended up paying around $6.50 per square foot."
Instead, Hall advises shopping for these items after Black Friday and closer to Christmas.
"Most people aren't really thinking about upgrading their bathrooms during the holiday season, so prices won't be incredibly high," he says.