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Pressure Treated Lumber Shortage and Cost Increase

Got a deck, fence, dock or other project in the works?  If you are using pressure treated lumber on any of it, you may want to schedule more time for it and, while you’re at it, go to the bank and withdraw more cash.  The US market is in the midst of a pressure treated lumber shortage and, as a result, costs are sky rocketing.

Cuts in production have been compounded by the DIY demand during the COVID-19 crisis.  All of this has pushed lumber prices to their highest levels in two years.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that the Random Lengths Framing Composite Price hit $523 per 1,000 board feet for the week ending July 10, marking the first time prices have topped the $500 level since July 2018.  Additionally, lumber prices have soared 50% since April 17, 2020.

This prices increase is the result of an imbalance of supply and demand.   Like many industries affected by the pandemic, in early spring, lumber mills closed due to stay-at-home and social distancing measures ordered by state and local governments.  Many experts projected the housing market to be severely affected, so mills then decreased capacity between March and April.

Earlier this year, My Home Journal ran several posts showing convincing evidence that the housing market was not going to crash like many projected.

Three Reasons Why This Is Not A Housing Crisis

A Recession Does Not Equal A Housing Crisis

How the Housing Market Benefits with Uncertainty in the World

The mistake was an inaccurate projection of the huge upswing in demand from DIYers and big box home improvement retailers during the crisis.  At the same time, housing has made a quick comeback this summer after a slight stumble in spring.

The demand from DIY customers is still strong.  This is especially true for the typical DIY project that includes pressure treated products used in decks, fencing, outdoor showers and backyard children’s play sets.


According to the NAHB, mills have been taking orders for the end of July as far back as early June and continue to play catch-up with demand.  The result is that some builders and lumber traders are dealing with orders which have no guaranteed delivery date or price.

One of our builder friends alerted us to a letter they received today from Culpeper Wood Preservers.  Culpeper is a major east coast treated lumber distributor.  They operate 10 plants in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.

“At this point we do not have a timeline as to when any relief is expected.Culpeper Wood Preservers

Effective immediately they have gone to a Priced at Time of Shipment (PTS) policy.  The end result for the consumer is the fact that projects are going to cost more and take longer.  Due to the severity of the decreased inventory, lead times to lumber yards could be up to 60 days or longer.

Ever wonder how they pressure treat lumber?  Check this animated video from Culpeper Wood Preservers.