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IN DEPTH: Lumber and Structural Panels

New product sources and enhanced features are expanding the options for builders as they seek low-cost solutions that help make them more efficient.

By Craig A. Schutt

This year’s combination of strong supply, rising market and interest among customers in improving efficiency will lead them to review product options and make some changes, manufacturers say. Some of those changes may come in the basic lumber products they use, as the choices and services expand and improve.

Supply won’t be a problem, they agree, especially with more options coming into the market. “The biggest trend we’re seeing is more supply of softwood being offered to the U.S. market,” says Geoff Berwick, director of risk management at Sherwood Lumber Corp. That results from the falling exchange rate with the Euro and Swedish Krona and to a lesser extent a lower cost for logs. “Sweden plans to increase shipments, and Central European sawmills are aggressively looking for commitments from U.S. buyers.”

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These options, including Scots pine and Norway spruce, will offer alternatives for appearance-grade lumber. “The interest
in these species is clearly there if the pricing and capacity are there—and they are reaching that point now,” Berwick says. “European producers are seeking diversity and a foothold in the improving U.S. market.”

WeyerhauserThe Performance-Tested Framer Series Lumber from Weyerhaeuser uses a patented computerized grading system that goes beyond visual grading capabilities to ensure that every piece in the line stays straight. Each board crown is marked to eliminate guesswork on the jobsite. The lumber also is protected with an anti-stain agent to provide mold control.

Other factors also are boosting supply, says Steve Killgore, vice president of sales and marketing at Roseburg Forest Products. “The low currency exchange and China dropping back on its purchases has allowed Canada to ship more product into the U.S.”

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