High lumber prices to remain through 2021, forestry expert says

TORONTO — Lumber prices have been on a steady climb over the past year and it looks like the increases will continue well into the summer and fall.

“Lumber prices are the highest they have ever been and certainly the most volatile they have ever been,” according to Paul Jannke with Forest Economic Advisors (FEA).

Home renovations are getting a lot more expensive due to the soaring cost of lumber. Some of the most common building materials for projects like decks and fences have tripled in price over the past year. 

“If you’re going to build a deck this summer you will be paying three times more for your lumber than you would have two years ago,” said Jannke.

Many people stuck at home during the pandemic have decided to renovate their houses inside and out and lumber yards are running out of wood making many projects a lot more expensive.

Chris Black, co-owner of Century Mill Lumber in Stouffville said “When I’m getting shocked by the prices, I can just imagine how the consumer feels.”

Black’s business deals in speciality lumbers but he said when people call for the most popular woods used in many home renovations the sizes are hard to get and prices can increase from month to month.

“It hurts you as a business when you have to say no (I don’t have that lumber available) and I don’t know when I’m going to get it and I can’t tell you right now what the price will be,” said Black. 

It’s not just demand driving up prices as some sawmills had to shut down during the pandemic disrupting supply chains. 

The Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) said mills are doing what they can to catch up.

“Lumber mills are running as hard as they can and over time pricing will ease, but the reality is in Ontario you can’t just flip a switch to increase lumber production,” said Ian Dunn, president of the OFIA.

New home construction is also driving demand and increased lumber costs are expected to add thousands to the purchase price of a new home.

FEA expects lumber prices to remain high throughout the summer and into the fall. But Black thinks high prices for wood are here to stay.

“A lot of consumers think I’m going to push it off until next year (a project involving wood) but there is a strong part of me that wants consumers to know that it’s never going back to what it was unfortunately,” said Black.

Those in construction say the shortages are not just in lumber, but with many other building materials as well. Drywall, plumbing and electrical supplies are also in high demand which could cause more delays and higher prices. 

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