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Front Range Lumber reviews lumber prices

Lumber prices have been on quite a roller coaster ride!

Lumber prices continue to change and unfold constantly – seems like on a weekly basis. So we’ve started providing our monthly 2-cents on the subject…

December 2022 – lumber and building materials price review.

Lumber pricing has (and is) frankly just dumped downward. Good old supply and demand are far out of balance – the mills are reeling in production, and they can’t do it fast enough.

Everyone is scared of holding on to the hot potato of inventory as prices fall. Again, these specific comments pertain mainly to 2×4’s, construction plywood and wafer boards.

That’s the story for framing material items. For other building material pricing, here’s a quick review:
  • Siding – Hardboard siding and trim items went up in price in October. James Hardie has announced an increase for the first of the year.
  • Cedar Lumber is echoing the downward movement in framing, although not as fast or hard. Overall, cedar prices are now in the normal or “reasonable” range as opposed to the past 2-1/2years of high pricing.
  • Engineered Wood Products – For LVL and I-joists availability is no longer a concern as inventories are piling up at all of the distribution chains. Further, pricing is going down bit by bit. Although the general sentiment is that this category will never go back to “old” pricing levels.
  • Redwood Lumber is stable.
  • Treated Lumber is all over the place, however it IS far less expensive than a year or even three months ago.
  • Timbers – a slight drift downward.
  • Manufactured Items are a real mixed bag. A FEW decreases, but some increases – overall maybe stabilizing?
  • Steel has stabilize with some decreases. Specifically, rebar is drifting downward.
  • Composite Decking – looks like price changes which usually occur over the winter for the next year are NOT happening for 2023.
  • Windows – no decreases here, however lead times are improving.
  • Concrete – lots of pressure as usual from energy and freight costs, expect increases in January 2023.

November 2022 – review of lumber prices.

Lumber pricing including OSB and many plywoods continue to slide slightly in price. The mills have aggressively started to shut down and otherwise reduce production to better match supply with demand. Their production costs now are higher than the price of the wood they’re trying to sell!

Everyone seems to be playing a waiting game, thinking they can outlast the other “guy”. Inventories at all levels seem very low.

Better sales in October were deceptive with better than average weather, however more normal winter weather is now impacting current sales (and therefore replenishment at all levels). The entire period between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays is hard to predict and react to, as on many levels the holidays mess with any business trend.

In other building materials categories, the past brisk pace of price increases has slowed dramatically.

Our sense (opinion) is that after the first of the year, things are gonna get exciting again. Demand remains decent, inventory levels are low and there ARE enduring supply chain issues in a variety of items/product lines/brands.

Remember, our industry very closely matches “textbook” economic supply and demand “theory”.

October 2022 lumber prices are up and down.

It’s been a wild couple of years with pricing on all varieties of wood products— up, down and all-around! In framing lumber, construction plywood and OSB, prices continue to drift downward through August, September, and into early October. This decrease continues despite strong demand, increasing freight rates, mills suspending production (reducing supply) and a bevy of other reasons that SHOULD, in fact, be pushing prices upward.

For EWP (I-joists and LVL), there’s talk of another decrease in price, however, we believe a new “normal” will be prices much higher than what they were two-three years ago and doubt they will ever fall again to those pre-pandemic price levels.

Cedar has decreased in price substantially over the past 2-3 months. Leading the charge is 5/4×6 decking, which over the past two years was in the stratosphere. It has since resumed its very competitive price level compared to composites and other wood options. The cedar items that have not decreased in price are similar to many other categories – better grades (clears and related) are holding firm in price or actually still increasing!

We expect fencing pickets to continue to slide in price over the winter and into 2023.

Our take on “supply chain problems” is simply the world (literally) has become so interconnected and reliant on smooth operations and anything that upsets the apple cart creates a ripple throughout the chain. Contributing to supply chain factors include just-in-time inventories, outsourcing components, offshoring and varying wage scales across the world. When something goes wrong somewhere, there’s quite a ripple effect throughout the whole process. Supply of all types of adhesives continue to be hit-or-miss (at best).

We are hearing that imported items will continue to increase in price and experience supply chain issues. We just received notice after-the-fact of an increase on hardboard siding price, indicative of the fact that both prices are still increasing AND VERY late notice of upcoming price changes.

September 2022 lumber prices update.

Framing lumber, OSB and construction grades of plywood continue to slide downward in price bit by bit. The scare of a national rail striker very temporarily sparked pricing, but the market overall sags. Everyone is searching for a direction of what’s next.

In most other categories, prices are holding steady. Cedar has dropped a little over the past 60 days. Imported items are looking to become more difficult (again) with continued transportation issues and other factors playing in.

While demand overall looks good, supply circumstances concern many in the industry. As we approach the less busy winter season, perhaps a “reset” will occur and more normal times will come!

August 2022 good news/bad news.

Framing lumber and construction grades remain at relatively low price levels when compared to the past two years. Availability is good, again compared to recent history. The outlook for the next 60 days seems to be more-of-the-same.

Duties on Canadian lumber dropped in amount, lending a contribution in declining prices.

Lately trucking has loosened up dramatically with the simultaneously flattening of fuel prices – the freight picture is looking far “prettier” lately.

Treated lumber is creeping upwards in price, while cedar has dropped significantly over the past 60 days and the prognosis there seems to be stable in most types.

However, higher grades remain very high in price and supply is hit or miss. Redwood remains constant. Hardwoods are moving up and availability is getting more unreliable.

Moldings have stabilized and supply (including MDF items) has vastly improved.

In a broken record fashion, the more “manufactured” the item, the more the price changes keep going in an upward direction. So here, think hardware, fasteners and related categories.

As in the past, we are seeing trade-offs in product use. For example, since framing is way down – more lumber is being used instead of more expensive manufactured I joists &/or trusses.

July 2022 some lumber prices half of what they were.

Construction lumber has fallen and is now basically HALF of the cost it was last year. OSB and construction plywood are close behind. Again – these comments relate to framing/construction lumber.

There’s always a lot of attention when pricing goes UP, but not when it falls.

Regarding all other categories: cedar, redwood, moldings, better plywood types, and all more “manufactured” goods; prices are stable and/or still increasing.

For example, on a recent re-supply order we placed on hardware type items, of the 34 we ordered all but 5 went up in cost!

Availability is another topic we preach, as a general rule: availability overall seems to have gotten somewhat better. There remain many items/categories which are hard to locate.

Certainly the next couple of months will determine the longer term direction for all products. All the talk of recession, higher interest rates and the similar are making most businesses very cautious.

June 2022 some lumber prices still decreasing.

Framing lumber and plywood pricing slid over the past month, extending a streak of decreases in these categories for approximately two months to date.

DON’T BE FOOLED, virtually all other categories of building materials are holding steady or increasing. These include composite decking, redwood, cedar, steel items, moldings and so on.

There remains numerous supply chain issues affecting almost all categories and items in some fashion.

Freight costs overshadow everything this includes groceries, furniture and of course building materials. Costs of getting loaded trucks to Colorado are making buyer’s heads swim.

Lead times on special order items like doors, windows and garage doors are surreal – all are measured in multiple months.

Despite these conditions, all of the supply chain: whether manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are all very light on inventory. We look to a crazy summer season with generally increased prices and increasing product shortages (again).

May 2022 some building material prices going down.

Framing lumber and construction lumber have dropped dramatically in price over the last few weeks. By historical numbers, lumber still remains high.

Treated lumber prices are also dropping. Meanwhile, redwood, cedar, and manufactured wood items continue to remain at their current levels or higher.

As we’ve covered before, availability remains almost more important than the price. Said differently, if it’s not available, the price question is immaterial.

All of these factors influencing building material price remain in play:

  • Trucking issues
  • Taxes on imports
  • Fuel costs
  • Log supply
  • and on and on…

April 2022 lumber prices dropping?

Lumber and plywood/OSB prices are currently easing off a bit in mid-to-late March. At every step of the distribution chain, everyone has a theory where prices will go from here. Could this be just a pause? Could it be the beginning of prices sliding? Could it be something else?
Our best idea is that while prices may slip somewhat from their current levels, any decrease pales in perspective of the relatively high prices lumber products are at. Said differently, even if prices drop 5%, starting at $1.00, they are still $0.95!
This covers “framing lumber items” – other items: treated, redwood, cedar, pine boards and so on – there is NO such decreases occurring &/or are on the horizon. In fact, all the manufacturers of “EWP” (LVL, I-joists, rimboard, etc.) took a large 15% or more increase in mid-March.

March 2022 building material issues.

Framing lumber prices continue to increase. OSB and construction plywood prices are also increasing rapidly, worsened by extreme shortages in many items.

Fire treated is almost non-existent in supply and “regular” treated is increasing with many outages in sizes. Most wood items are at least creeping up in price.

As we’ve spoken to before, freight considerations are a major factor adding to a host of other contributing reasons. Virtually all items in shipments of hardware items we receive are increasing also bit by bit. A large price increase on LVL, wood I-joists and rimboard is imminent.

There really seems no reason to believe all the factors affecting prices are going to change enough to push pricing DOWN anytime soon.

Right now, availability of product is the real driver!

February 2022 building material prices still increasing.

Pricing on all framing lumber items are ROARING back upwards – we are nearing the record highs of mid 2021.

There’s no relief in sight as all the fundamental causes remain in play: trucking issues, COVID, log availability, duties (taxes) on Canadian lumber and on and on…

Treated, OSB and plywood items are following the same trends.

We continue to see lumber prices increase along virtually all items and categories.

Trucking availability to move products from manufacturers to stores is very difficult and trucking rates seemingly increase in front of our eyes.

December 2021 update on lumber costs.

The lumber market bounced upward tremendously over the past week-two!

Framing lumber increased significantly across the board in late November/early December with more increases almost certain.

Why? Supply and demand. The supply side is being hammered by the same old reasons in varying proportions: freight difficulties, weather, log costs, Covid and many other reasons.

Our tried and true advice is to:
1. Watch your budgeting with “real” numbers
2. Plan ahead to avoid supply shortages
3. Be flexible in your needs to minimize price and delays

November 2021 review of lumber prices.

Lumber prices have established a relatively calm level. This is NOT to say it’s going down, most items continue to edge upwards.

We constantly see price increase notifications AND surprises! Not to pick on TREX, but they’ve officially announced an increase effective January 1, 2022 – as an example.

Our opinion is AVAILABILITY remains the key factor in our industry. There are so many shortages, delays and transportation issues – it’s really hard to stay on top of. You probably have your own story of an item or category which was hard to locate &/or held up the timing on your job.

We urge everyone to plan ahead, be flexible in your needs and not rely on “perfection”.

In addition to supply chain issues in delivery, we’re seeing significantly more damage, mistakes and incorrect items. So even after waiting, in many cases, we must try ahead despite loads of effort to avoid these issues. A case in point: we estimate more than 25% of the doors we receive are wrong or damaged.

Returning to lumber prices – in one sentence: We don’t see factors changing to influence decreases anytime soon – quite the contrary!

October 2021 review of lumber prices.

As of the middle of October, framing lumber prices edged back upwards in price – although current levels are nowhere near records highs reached earlier this year. OSB remains relatively high when compared to historical levels, but pricing is far lower than levels earlier in the year.

We continue to see price increases across a broad spectrum of products including announced increases on TREX, Simpson hangers, and metal items of all types, etc.

While framing lumber prices and OSB have decreased dramatically from highs in the Spring, most other wood items remain at prices set earlier this year. These include redwood, cedar, beetle kill, pine and cedar boards and timbers.

Freight costs are becoming an even larger portion of the cost picture with many trucking costs increased by new “adders”, “premiums” &/or additional fuel charges. With winter season looming, limited availability of trucks and higher costs will only impact costs more.

Some wood products are STILL increasing in price. These generally are items which are more “processed” than plain lumber. For example, hardwood plywoods and moldings are both in short supply with constantly increasing prices.

We continue to see many shortages in products – our standard advice is to plan (order) far ahead of your need time and be flexible in your needs to better match what’s available.Remember, many items in the industry are imported – nails, screws and bolts are great examples.

With ongoing port unloading issues, we don’t expect to see a quick resolution. In fact, we are hearing from many suppliers/manufacturers warnings of ongoing shortages with advice to plan well ahead.

September 2021 review of lumber prices.

Lumber prices over the past 30-45 days are on the move again. We cannot stress enough that ALL wood products don’t all change prices in unison.

There ARE forces that impact all categories, for example, shipping costs and poor availability drag all freight movement at this times.

We’ll briefly review building materials costs by category:
FRAMING LUMBER – went down substantially in June, July and early August. Over the first part of September, lumber prices have snuck slightly back upwards, we expect a continued nudging upward.

OSB – repeated framing lumber, lots of opinions where it goes from here, we believe that prices may dramatically drop in the late October/November period.

PLYWOODS – highly mixed bag. Construction grades are on par with OSB costs – not the “normal”. Many other types of plywoods are fast increasing and in very short supply. For example 3/4″ thickness in Baltic Birch. Expect more of the same.

CEDAR has been stable for a couple of months, there’s a lot of cedar to be sold, there seems to be some cracks in play to force pricing downwards.

REDWOOD, like other categories, is driven by availability. Running into the “winter season”, expect pricing to remain as-is but we expect increases next Spring

TREATED We believe will hover around their present levels which are far less than anytime in the last 16 months. We are thinking prices will increase in the Spring with a vengeance.

ASSORTED Many items like pine boards, for example, are holding at the same price level as in the past 3-4 months. Clear grades of all types are hard to come by.

MOULDINGS Remain very short in supply and fingerjoint items are at/near solid wood pricing. MDF mouldings are especially short, many on “allocation”.

METAL ITEMS most anything steel is up, up and away.

IMPORTS There are very large limits on the flow of imported goods. Many retailers are concerned about getting shipments in time for the Christmas season.

The building industry is not a Christmas type, but the flow of merchandise is being hampered regardless of capacity. We’re hearing the situation will be worse better better.

August 2021 building materials price update.

This pattern continued until late April /early May of 2020. Then, as the COVID Situation settled in for the long haul, the home improvement craze blasted off.

This combined with strengthening housing markets AND perhaps most importantly, COVID had a harsh impact on the supply chain. These impacts included diminished employees at the mills, outright mill closures due to outbreaks, more limited shipping.

Well, the good old law of supply and demand quickly set in.

With consumers stuck at home working on home improvement demand quickly out-paced supply and prices started to increase throughout the summer, fall and winter of 2020.

Entering 2021, everyone in the industry believed the entire story was going to be product availability and it was – until (partially) May 2021. Seemingly overnight, supply in certain categories caught up (increased) while demand fell off dramatically.

Again, COVID was the major contributor in the demand drop as the pandemic eased (and more vaccinated), consumers felt free to travel and dine out and other “diversions”. Again, supply and demand ruled the day and prices fell even quicker than their meteoric rise.

The “yeah-buts” then start when we examine the current “lumber market”. The media is painting the story that ALL lumber prices are dropping. This is certainly not true across the board (pun intended).

Overall, the supply chain is running fairly lean.

This means sooner or later wholesalers and retailers will need to step in and buy more simply to fill their shelves.

We’ll briefly review building materials costs by category:
FRAMING LUMBER really dropped, current levels are sitting at/below those before all the action started!

OSB just starting to drop, we anticipate significant downward movements.

CONSTRUCTION PLYWOODS have been lowering price levels for several in June and July – however they are now less expensive than OSB products and availability has improved dramatically.

REDWOOD has not changed lately, pricing remains up over last year, mainly due to a stock shortage, especially on better grades. Prospects for decreases anytime soon are slim.

CEDAR is well over last year’s levels with no significant decreases in sight. Although the supply side has improved there remains many other forces at work to keep prices at their levels, including tariffs on Canadian lumber, log supplies and log quality.

TREATED LUMBER has been sinking in price for several weeks, look for more decreases slowly over time and going into winter.

EWP (aka engineered wood products) has loads of issues here: high demand, shortage of specialty adhesives and basic costs of manufacturing – among others. We believe there are more price increases (yes, plural) to come. The EWP category includes glulams, LVLs and I-joists. Supplies of I-joists remain very limited. We believe there will a “new normal” regarding pricing in this category (any others).

STEEL PRODUCTS most everything in metal is up and still increasing.

PINE BOARDS supply is improving, but still not even “hand-to-mouth.”

BEETLE KILL BLUE STAIN PINE in better quality (in this product, that means a good amount of blue coloring), availability is very limited, and prices increase with every shipment we receive. We have been typically waiting 3-4 months for our orders AND then get shipped different from the order.

SIDING/TRIM while the prices are relatively stable and generally have not increased by large amounts, many items are simply not available without very long lead times.

HARDWOODS beat to a different drummer; most hardwoods are creeping up in price. Hardwood plywoods continue to be in short supply, especially Baltic birch, which is imported.

TREX (and similar) announced a 5-8% increase in August. This is unusual, but it is an indicator of increased freight costs as this is the reason named.

Freight costs have impacted most everything!

Shortage of both trucks and drivers, from what information we get, this situation will only get worse for at least 5-10 years.

We ask for your patience as all of us navigate these unforeseen times.

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