Why Are Lumber Prices So High?

If you’ve gone to your local Seattle hardware store or lumber yard recently to shop for wood, you’ve probably noticed lumber prices are way higher right now than they typically are. What exactly has caused this price surge, and when can we expect prices to go back down?
Here’s a look at what you should know.

A global issue

We promise—it’s not just an issue limited to a single region. This is an issue that is currently affecting the industry all over the nation and throughout the world.
To give you an idea of the extent of the problem, the price for lumber futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange recently went past $1,500 per thousand board feet, a price that represents a 300 percent increase from this time last year. Many people are reporting 2x4s in their area are four times the price they’re used to paying. Meanwhile, the average cost of building a home in the United States is up by approximately $36,000 on average.

These are some eye-popping numbers, and it’s resulted in a lot of people delaying some of their home improvement and construction projects until the cost of materials returns to a more “normal” level.

These costs are in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There had been a major expectation that the pandemic would result in a major slowdown in construction, but what actually happened was a huge boom in demand for wood. The market also started its recovery a lot earlier than many people expected, and the industry wasn’t fully prepared.

The biggest impacts have been in softwoods, which is why 2x4s have been particularly affected by the surging prices of lumber. That said, hardwoods have also been affected.

When the industry cut way back, assuming markets would be slow during the year that followed and throughout the pandemic, they essentially limited supply. But as the pandemic went on and people had more time on their hands, they started to take on more home improvement and DIY projects. The market didn’t see nearly the dip that was expected, so the industry essentially had limited its supply for no reason. This created a shortage that resulted in massively increased prices.

When will things improve?

As for the question of when the prices will go back to normal, it’s really difficult to say at this point. It’s going to take some time for the industry to return to the levels of production it saw before the pandemic. It’s expected that eventually the prices will go back to normal, or at least much closer to normal than what we see now, but it could be another year before we really see the market settling back into the groove it was in before the pandemic.

Want to learn more about the lumber we have in stock at Stewart Lumber & Hardware Co., and about the current state of the market? We encourage you to contact the experts at our lumber store in Seattle. We look forward to answering any questions you have for us!

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