The cost of lumber can be quite a mystery. We are making an effort to explain the mystery and encourage open communication between lumber suppliers and customers, but it is difficult for us to fully explain to customers the many elements that contribute to it. In “Lumber Pricing Explained, Part 1,” we looked at some broad reasons why lumber pricing is unavoidably varied and far more complicated than that of manufactured building materials. We also looked at the part that lumber grade plays in this pricing, as well as some general reasons why grade matters.
We’ll now look at lumber size requirements and how those size requirements directly affect lumber pricing. Let’s examine size in relation to lumber pricing.
Board Size & Lumber Pricing
Lumber pricing is far more complex than just redundantly pricing by the foot, so there isn’t a tried-and-true technique or chart by which you can mix species, grade, and size and get a price. Therefore, we want you to understand that when we state that length and width affect size, we also mean that these properties of timber will interact with the special qualities and availability of a certain species in terms of how they affect pricing. Pricing will be influenced by the market’s demand right now along with lumber mill procedures. Let’s elaborate.
Demand for Large Board Sizes & Lumber Pricing
Due to a lack of supply and rising demand, many of these extra-long and extra-wide boards are more expensive than ever. However, the demand for broader boards from some exotic species has decreased, leading mills to cut wider boards into smaller, standard-width strips. If your project requires wide boards, a timber supplier may typically have to place an order for a complete shipment of wide boards. Because of the large quantity which needs to be sourced, the lumber supplier will have greater financial liability which they have to bear and will thus need to charge more per board foot to make up for their own higher costs and longer turnaround time due to the extra wide boards you ordered.
Species Size Restrictions & Lumber Pricing
The species of the wood you request and the inherent limitations of that species is another aspect which may limit or greatly restrict the availability of wider than normal boards. Today’s wide Walnut, for example, is more expensive than other domestic species and even some exotic ones since it is hard to find. Wide Walnut is incredibly scarce, and neither a timber source nor a mill can change that. Because of the limited supply, Walnut boards will be inevitably more expensive. (The situation with Walnut lumber is so important that the size restrictions have been included in the grading scale.
We’re not just trying to convince you, the customer, that our own prices are reasonable; we’re also trying to give you more information so you can knowledgably choose the lumber you want to buy. In order to offer their clients the highest-quality lumber while keeping costs in mind, today’s cost-conscious builders are increasingly taking non-standard dimensions into account and encouraging value engineering.
We’ll talk about how demand and seasonal supply affect lumber pricing in “Lumber Pricing Explained, Part 3.”