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The Building Materials Market

The Building Materials Market: Why Prices Are High and What’s Next

We’re all aware the prices for lumber and other building materials are on the rise. In fact, futures for North American lumber trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are up 400% from a year ago. Not surprisingly, McCoy’s team members have been fielding many questions about the dramatic increases over 2020 lumber prices and the tight market for other supplies.

How Did the Market Get Here?

There are a lot of factors that are contributing to high prices. Here are a few of the big variables. 

In the spring of 2020, the pandemic reduced capacity at lumber mills due to forced shutdowns. However, the pandemic also caused a massive surge in demand as people began record numbers of home-improvement projects. Stimulus payments and historically low interest rates put money in many homeowners’ pockets to build during their forced at-home time, both as DIYers and through contractors. To complicate matters, devastating wildfires in the Pacific Northwest early in 2020 limited access to timber for a time. As access to the land was opening back up, the pandemic shutdowns that affected nearly all industries began.

Local conditions also affected lumber and building supplies. In 2020, hurricanes hit McCoy’s states on two different occasions. The winter storm in 2021 caused further shortages.

While these factors have been in the news as they relate to the price of lumber, they also a direct effect on supplies of materials such as PVC, OSB, and the resin used to manufacture subfloor, among others.

What is McCoy’s Doing?

We’re doing everything we can to keep stocked with the supplies you need for your business and work. Here’s our short-term forecast for some of the lumber and other building products in high demand.

  • Treated Lumber: 
    Timbers have tightened drastically. We have seen lead times stretching to six months, with some vendors refusing new orders at all for now. Our team is sourcing everything we can get our hands on outside of .60 CCA, or chromated copper arsenate treated wood. We are bringing in some .80 CCA.
  • Southern Pine: 
    The slowdown in lumber of all species experienced a month ago in the wake of February’s snowstorm has disappeared, with surges of 6-13% in the last week of April alone. All species are affected, with West Coast species scarce and expensive. Southern pine remains in high demand as local availability is stretched thin. The 2x8 supply is particularly tight. Our team has been purchasing truckloads where they can find them and adding new vendors to do so.
  • Cedar Pickets:  
    We continue to see a tight supply of 8’ Import cedar pickets coming from overseas. While we don’t expect this to improve immediately, we do have plenty of orders in and on the water with some delayed arrivals at the port. Our team is coordinating freight and logistics to disperse those loads to stores as soon as they arrive. We do have 6’ pickets available.
  • Radiant Barrier OSB:
    We are trying to get any extra product we can and continue to source additional loads from multiple suppliers to improve our radiant barrier position.
  • OSB and Plywood:
    In terms of panels, 7/16” OSB is in extremely short supply with prices that may limit demand. Plywood of all types is correspondingly higher. We have recently increased our contract volume with one of our suppliers by four truckloads per week. We are also purchasing any additional material we can through two-step distributors and wholesalers.
  • Portland Cement: 
    The high demand for Portland cement in Texas in recent weeks has led to a short supply and we are currently limited in the number of loads we can receive. However, one of our large suppliers has allocated about 16 truckloads for the month of May and another has recently sent over three truckloads, so we are not expecting shortages. 
  • 3/8” Rebar: 
    The supply of 3/8” rebar could get very tight in the weeks ahead. While there is a limited supply of import rebar coming into the port of Houston, our supplier of domestic rebar is working hard to keep up with our demand on U.S.-produced goods. We have a strong supply of 3/8” rebar committed through June and July. Please speak with your store manager to arrange for large orders.
  • 10-Gauge Remesh: 
    The winter storm slowed the production of wire rod in the market with the local suppliers losing two weeks of production. They are still working to get caught up. Sources from farther afield are struggling with late shipments as well. We are keeping multiple orders in the system to stay ahead of orders.
  • Insulation:
    This entire category is currently tight. Lead times are now between six and eight weeks. However, we have increased our direct allocations with key vendors to bring in additional product.
  • T-Posts:
    One of our suppliers has had to increase lead times to 12 weeks. Fortunately, they have agreed to work with us to push some orders to the front of the line to ensure our distribution centers and individual stores remain in stock. Delays are possible, but we are placing orders now with the longer lead times to accommodate our customer’s needs down the road.
  • Other Materials:
    We continue to see longer-than-normal lead times on various types of windows, doors, and siding due to the shortages of resins and other components. Many manufacturers have limited the orders they can accept, so we continue to work with as many distributors as possible to gain access to the reduced supply. In some cases, we have taken the step of suspending the normal replenishment of stock at certain stores. To continue to serve our customers, even these locations will have the option to place special orders from our distribution center. Please contact your local store manager for lead times and detailed information on specific product lines or for advice on alternatives.

Keep in Touch

We’ll be updating this page regularly as the availability of supplies changes. If you have any questions about these or other products, please let us know by calling our hotline at 1-877-542-8986 or dropping by one of our stores. Our hard-working merchandising team continues to seek out creative ways to keep the materials you need in stock. We’re here to serve—let us know how we can help.