October 2016 – Lumber Update

By Paul Rogers,

September proved to be a relatively ordinary month on the sales front, but there was enough momentum to keep buyers in the game and give some life to the market. Although pricing cracked early on, it wasn’t to an extent that set anyone in to alarm and it firmed back up as the month progressed. Purchasing was generally curbed for immediate needs (as buyers strategized upon anticipated demand), but mills often offered bargains that were hard to resist for some buyers, who saw little risk to price or inventory levels: October is a “Prime-Time” month for the building market, and so demand is expected to pick up. Pricing has since stabilized and mills are actively doing their best to discover what the market will bear. Order files are growing, and this is the healthiest indication that the market will firm and likely remain that way during the course of the month. Taking this in to consideration, we can anticipate pricing to be firm to up through October.

One of the biggest objectives we face in construction is to control moisture, both as it relates to making buildings watertight (to prevent leaks and flooding) and as it pertains to the stability and performance of the materials we use (moisture content of the wood). In the same manner that wood absorbs and releases moisture, modern technology allows us to infuse wood with preservatives that greatly elevate its performance against rot and insect damage (commonly known as “pressure treating”). Pressure treated boards are boards that are immersed in a preservative-borne solution under high pressure, essentially infusing the wood with the preservative that is carried in by water or a light organic solvent. Pressure treated boards, most commonly used for decks and sills, have migrated into other areas of the home as well (such as trim boards) and continue to grow in popularity. A very common misconception of the process of pressure treating is the misunderstanding that the entire board has been treated when, in actuality, it has not: pressure treating can only be forced so far in to the wood and heartwood, being dense, will not absorb the solution like sapwood does. Another misconception is that preservatives will remain in the board if a fresh cut has been done when, in actuality, the preservatives can migrate out of the board if not resealed (just like moisture migrates in and out of any board). We bring this up because, according to manufacturer’s installation instructions and warranties, you are required to reseal the end of a cut pressure treated board, in order to optimize its performance and prevent rot and decay. Although this can interrupt the speed of construction (and certainly can be seen as a hassle), there are end sealers that make the job quick and effective that we can offer. It is well worth the investment, especially when skipping this important step may lead to a potential failure situation years later. Make no mistake, pressure treated boards have been a modern miracle to our industry, and they are here to stay. For how long they last on your project depends upon proper installation, and preventive action with an end sealer: an ounce of prevention (preservative!) is worth (many, many) pounds of cure!

October is shaping up to be a promising month and we’re optimistic that business will be good right through to the end of the year. As your days become busier (and yet shorter due to the setting sun), please turn to us for whatever assistance we can provide. We sincerely want to be part of your successful outcome and to do anything we can to help guide you along the way. Thank you for your business!


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