With the unpredictability of the pandemic and the fluctuating number of COVID-19 infection cases, the future seems fairly uncertain for many industries. The wood framing sector was one of the hardest hits by the lockdown, causing disruptions in the production of sawmills in the face of increasing demand by a large cohort of prospective millennial homeowners and driving the lumber prices upwards in an unstable market. As early as recent as May this year, lumber rates were at an all-time high, costing up to $1.6k per one-thousand board feet, which plunged to as low as $400 in August.
The Current Situation
The plunge in August saw a pent-up demand of lumber from commercial companies and homeowners alike, which in conjunction with the increased US tax tariffs and British Columbia bushfires, resulted in the current price range of $700 to $800. Experts say this will be the likely case until early next year, making it a cause for concern for many commercial wood framing companies facing uncertainty in their construction timelines, incurred losses, and expenses. Currently, the industry faces tighter supply lines and higher costs with the increase in the demand for home building and renovation projects, impacting many construction businesses significantly.
Steel Framing as the New Competition
Consistent with the 2020 third-quarter report by the US Chamber of Commerce, many companies commonly reported wood to have a shortage in supply. Since then, the prices have continued to fluctuate and have remained pretty unstable due to the COVID-19 restrictions on lumber mills, supply chain issues, and the surge in demand. Experts speculate that prices will be unlikely to return to pre-pandemic rates, so many might turn to steel framing as an alternative.
In many ways, from a structural integrity and building safety standpoint, steel framing has proven to be a worthy competitor because of its anti-flammable, thermal capacity, and durable properties. It has been engineered to be stronger while still progressively becoming lighter in weight. It will not warp, shrink, split, or become moldy over time in comparison to wood. In addition, the material is fully recyclable and produces only 2% in scraps, being a sustainable and eco-friendly option for the environment.
Furthermore, it is excellent for high-density buildings like commercial and multi-family structures due to its non-combustible nature. As it is a more accessible material that is adaptable and flexible to changes, many construction companies and contractors have switched to using steel framing as their main approach in framing
The Popularity of Wood Framing
Despite the unpredictability in its prices, wood framing remains the most popular building material used for framing purposes due to its lower costs and easy modification in the field. In addition, it supersedes steel in terms of breaking length and load-bearing walls, which allows it to support its weight better. This enables larger spaces in the design and fewer structural supports.
The initial costs of wood framing will be more economical, as it also uses more inexpensive fasteners and tools to stabilize the construction securely. Additionally, it may be more suitable for certain geographic locations due to its higher insulating capacity. Finally, compared to steel framing, the lead time needed for wood framing is relatively short, which helps in expediting building project timelines. Therefore, various framing companies have still decided to stick to wood as their main framing approach.
Versatile Framing Services at Competitive Prices
US Framing specializes in numerous approaches in framing spanning cross-laminated timber framing, wood framing, and metal stud and industrial framing, because we understand that versatility is an important value in the construction industry. Therefore, we make the best recommendation and customize our approach to adapt to your building design, preferences, and requirements. We also consider the level of fire resistance, thermal insulation, and noise insulation you will require to suit your safety needs.
For more information about the type of framing services we offer, please do not hesitate to contact us!