Why Did Lumber Demand Increase During the Pandemic?
One of the biggest supply chain stories of 2020 and 2021 was the impact on the price of lumber. As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down saw mills, supply dwindled, then demand quickly rebounded faster than expectations. It was essentially a perfect storm, as fence companies, home builders and DIYers all wanted lumber. For many in Texas and across the country, our homes became a refuge in 2020 and lumber a necessity.
- Above ground and in ground pool construction exploded and became a must have for real estate listings in Texas. As a result, demand for wood privacy fencing increased in the summer of 2020.
- New construction home permits grew by 18% in Dallas and 16% in Houston from 2020 to 2019. Demand for lumber was needed to build homes to install fencing in gated neighborhoods and planned communities.
- Homeowners increased demand for lumber. Whether it was shiplap inside the home, to patio structures: decks, gazebos and pergolas. As more time was spent outside, lumber became hard to find and low inventory continues at big box stores throughout 2021.
- Another oddity, there was a huge increase in Americans purchasing or adopting dogs starting in 2020. As a result, invisible to in ground dog fencing has become a priority for dog owners with a backyard.
Lumber Prices Will Remain High in 2022
Lumber itself is a commodity, with futures traded on the Chicago stock exchange. The above chart highlights the steep increase in price since 2020. At the highest level, commodity lumber was priced at $1645 per 1,000 feet of board in May of 2021. In comparison, it was only $347 in May of 2020. Currently, at the end of 2021, lumber prices have increased to over $1,000.
Pricing for Cedar and Spruce Fencing
It is hard to predict how expensive commodity lumber will be in 2022. However, commodity lumber is not what homeowners or a fencing company would recommend for a new wood fence. The question below highlights part of the problem as Buzz chooses our materials carefully and frequently installs Spruce and Red Cedar fence pickets.
Wood fence material, despite being from a high quality wood is leftover from the saw milling process. Therefore, construction grade lumber for new homes gets top priority and often comes at a much higher price. As a result, inventory for certain wooden posts, pickets, railing or certain sizes can be difficult to source.
Fortunately, Buzz Custom Fence purchases wood fencing material by the railcar. Our team occasionally has a delay of material for up to a month. While prices for wood fencing is higher compared to before the pandemic, it is still much cheaper to imitation wood and composite alternatives.
Pricing for Wood Fencing vs Trex
If you are considering a cedar or spruce wood fence, it is natural to consider Trex and other composite alternatives. Buzz Custom Fence has heard the question more frequently since 2020 as lumber prices have increased and demand has skyrocketed! We have even stumbled on a few advertisements, highlighting how Trex decking is less expensive than wood. However, we strongly feel it is a marketing gimmick, especially for Trex fencing.
Trex fencing panels are much heavier than cedar and require stronger metal supports to prevent sagging over time. As a result, it is closer to an average price of $140 per linear foot while cedar is $50 (including labor and installation costs). Up front, Trex is nearly double the price for fence installation compared to a real wood fence.
However, Trex can be a better option for homeowners that have found a forever home. Wooden decks and fencing require more maintenance than Trex. Within a lifetime, a wooden fence or deck may need to be replaced two or three times. For homeowners that want to stay put or that want to avoid regular maintenance, Trex can be a better choice.
Wood Fencing Still a Very Popular Option for 2022
Wood as a material for fencing has never been more popular! Despite the increase in price of materials, natural wood is trendy. Drive around the wealthier suburbs and neighborhoods of DFW, Austin or Houston and you’ll see horizontal wood fencing. Wood fencing combined with metal also provides a fresh look on a classic!
According to Google Trends within the state of Texas, we see a spike in searches for wood fencing at the end of April 2020, and an even higher spike in 2021. Demand for Trex decking and fencing also spiked, but never surpassed wood in popularity.
Broken down by Metro, wood fencing is more popular throughout the biggest cities in Texas. In DFW, 70% of searches are for wood fencing vs. Trex. Austin comes the closest to a more even split with 41% for Trex and 59% for wooden fencing.
So there you have it! You’ve learned about lumber prices, how wood fencing also has a supply chain problem, Trex isn’t a cheaper alternative to wood and the popularity of wood fencing in Texas! Take a look at our project galleries and continue to explore ideas for wood fencing design. If you’re ready to pull the trigger, give us a call for a free onsite quote.