Lumber prices are at an all-time high, driven up by surging demand amid a supply chain coordination squeeze, production limitations, and a pesky beetle.
How did we get here? Here are the top events and conditions affecting the lumber market:
We expect lumber prices will remain elevated into 2022, but lower than today’s extreme rates. Capacity takes time to bring online. We are aware of six mills restarting or adding capacity, but we estimate it will take them 6–18 months to ramp up production.
In the meantime, alternatives emerge. Here are a few on our radar:
- Stamped concrete slab or pavers instead of raised decks: This alternative reduces or eliminates the need for treated lumber, decking, and hardware.
- Concrete block construction: Done right, block-constructed homes are quiet, comfortable, and long-lasting. Block can retain daytime warmth from the sun into the evening, which is great in winter weather conditions.
- Precut or prefab framing: Waste and inefficiency of precious materials can be reduced to miniscule levels with an industrialized approach.
- European lumber: Research shows imports from Europe are increasing and could grow even more if producers obtain the grade stamps in like-kind for North American structural use and substitution.
For more inspiration, see our IBSx 2021 Show Village “New, New Home” collaboration. It could be built using any or all of the above and you would never know the difference from traditional framing.