Why Are Lumber Prices Rising?

May 31, 2022
stacks of lumber

Why Are Lumber Prices Rising?

The price of lumber in the U.S. has been fluctuating since the start of the pandemic. Several factors have driven the price up and down since 2020, triggering tension for homebuilders and anyone in need of lumber for a project. Read on to learn more about the factors influencing the lumber market and what to expect in months to come.

Demand Has Been Unpredictable

One of the main reasons for the fluctuations is that demand for lumber has been highly volatile. After an initial drop when the pandemic first hit, demand bounced back quickly as people stayed home and began working on home improvement projects. This led to a shortage of lumber and a surge in prices. However, as the pandemic dragged on and economic uncertainty increased, demand for lumber dropped off again. This led to a decrease in prices. Now, as the vaccine rollout accelerates and the economy begins to reopen, demand for lumber is rising again with a construction boom. This is driving prices up once more. While the main culprit in the rise of lumber prices has been changes in demand, there are several other factors at work as well:

Worker Shortages

The pandemic impacted the transportation networks involved in moving lumber from one location to another. Combined with worker shortages across the nation, the supply chain has taken a hit.

Tariffs on Canadian Imports

Canadian forests and lumber mills are responsible for more than 25 percent of the U.S. lumber supply. Extreme weather and bark beetles have resulted in the loss of millions of cubic tons of wood. Couple the Canadian wood shortage with increased tariffs on Canadian lumber imports and you begin to see some of the factors involved in rising lumber prices.

Wildfires in British Columbia

The wildfire season in British Columbia is having a significant impact on the lumber supply to the United States as well. BC’s forests are a major source of lumber for the US market, and the recent fires have destroyed large areas of forest. This has led to a shortage of lumber, and prices have risen sharply as a result. The impact of the BC wildfires is being felt across the country, as builders and contractors struggle to find enough lumber to complete their projects. The situation is particularly acute in California, where the housing market is booming and there is a high demand for lumber. The fire season in BC is expected to continue for several weeks, and it is not clear when the situation will improve. In the meantime, US builders and contractors will have to continue to deal with the impact of the BC wildfires on the lumber supply.

Coastal Fires

The recent spate of coastal fires in the U.S. has taken a toll on the lumber industry. The resulting smoke and ash has been carried by prevailing winds across the country, affecting lumber supplies in many states. In Oregon, for example, the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge area burned more than 48,000 acres of forestland. This not only disrupted lumber production in Oregon, but also affected supplies to other parts of the country that rely on Oregon lumber. The same is true for the Carr fire in California, which burned more than 229,000 acres of forestland. This wildfire also changed lumber production in California and beyond. The effects of these coastal fires on lumber supply are likely to be felt for some time. In the meantime, lumber prices are expected to rise as demand outstrips supply. This could have a ripple effect on the construction and home-building industries, which are already facing challenges due to the high cost of materials. As coastal fires continue to devastate forestland in the U.S., it is important to be aware of the impact on lumber supplies. This will help you make informed decisions about your own lumber needs and budget for any potential price increases.

What to Expect

Looking ahead, it’s difficult to say where lumber prices will go. However, if the economy continues to recover and people continue working on home improvement projects, we could see prices rise once again.

What Does this Mean for Homeowners or Potential Home Buyers?

The rising cost of lumber will likely lead to an increase in the cost of new homes and renovations. If you are planning on undertaking a home improvement project, it is important to factor in the increased cost of materials. Alternatively, you may want to consider using other materials that are not affected by the rising price of lumber. Whatever your plans, it is important to be aware of the current trends in the housing market so that you can make the best decisions for your needs.

Mans Lumber & Millwork has built a reputation for supplying high-quality lumber products and outstanding customer service to Michigan homeowners and businesses. Learn more about all our custom millwork shop has to offer you by contacting us today!