Lumber pricing can be complicated, and sometimes higher prices can be the sign of a healthy market. Of course, none of us wants to sacrifice quality. For those interested in the long-term health of rain forests and the global ecosystem — and the lumber industry, a high quality and price point aren’t the only factors. At the same time, it’s natural to want the most bang for your buck. Would you be skeptical if we told you that you really could have it all?
Realize the Market Trends
The current trend is definitely toward extra-wide, extra-long boards. The overgrown demand for such lumber has gone the way that trends often do, leading to demands for lumber that’s bigger than the end use will require. Higher waste per board and a better color match are myths: bigger isn’t necessarily better.
At the same time, lumber grading dictates the percentage of material free from defects, as well as the minimum cutting size from each board; as a result, narrower, shorter boards typically fall into lesser grades, simply by nature of their sizes, even when there are few, if any, defects.
Translation: Sometimes smaller boards graded as select and even common can be completely clear and free from defects. The North American trend of inflated size may even be what’s leading to the widespread notion that the wood you get today isn’t as good as it used to be: It’s always been harder to find long and wide defect-free lumber; it just didn’t used to be such a common expectation.
Evaluate Your Project Needs
Sometimes, you do need extremely long or wide, perfectly clear boards. For instance, if you’re making mouldings or boat cover boards. If you’re just going to rip or crosscut most boards, anyway, why not just get smaller ones, for starters?
At J. Gibson McIlvain, we try to help our customers order wisely. If you ask us for extra-long or extra-wide boards, don’t be surprised when we ask you about your project and try to help you determine what you actually need. It’s not because we don’t want to sell you the wide and long boards, but it’s because we realize that there are only so many of them to go around.
And since this wide and long craze has taken root, we have plenty of perfectly good shorter, narrower lumber boards in our yard that we can sell you for much less, per board foot. Since it’s likely higher quality, as well, buying these cast-offs can really be a win-win for your project’s bottom line, while eliminating waste.
The concept that you can save money by purchasing short lumber is not new. Odd-length boards can help you save, as well. Once you realize that North American standards or current trends in lumber sizes may not be the only way to go, you can start saving money with no real draw backs.