We realize that lumber pricing can often seem like a conundrum, requiring some kind of mystery password to unlock its riddles. While the many factors that influence lumber pricing are far from simple or static, they are comprehensible to the average customer. They’re also complex and nuanced, though, and explaining that to each individual customer would require at least a full-time liason — adding to the price, due to the added overhead expense!
So instead, we use the online venue to educate our customers about our pricing process and welcome any specific questions you may have. The point is not just to explain the numbers that we throw out, but also to empower you to make more cost-savvy decisions as you plan for future lumber orders.
Before you start reading about the ways that local origin and governmental regulations can affect your lumber pricing, you might want to review some more foundational elements, first:
- What Factors Determine the Price of Lumber?
- How the Size of Boards Affects Lumber Pricing
- How Seasonal Demand Affects Lumber Pricing
Regional Origin and Lumber Pricing
When it comes to lumber pricing, the amount of distance which lumber has to travel is only part of the equation. (We’re looking at that, in more detail, in our next post.) The actual point of origin is significant, no matter how far your job site is from it. We already touched on the seasonal availability issues affecting Ipe pricing, but climate is certainly not the only variable. Some continents, countries, and regions have more factors affecting lumber pricing than others. Issues like growth range and forest concessions combine with other countries through which the lumber must travel to get to you. African hardwoods have a particularly tumultuous path to travel through hazardous war-torn areas.
Governmental Regulations and Lumber Pricing
Sometimes, we can easily show our customers exactly what fees get tacked onto their lumber prices: CITES paperwork, shipping costs, and certification all clearly impact pricing; however, there are less clear-cut costs that add to overhead expenses as well.
Consider the “due diligence” required for Lacey Act compliance. The cost of periodic visits to sawmills and concessions – as well as hiring local agents to provide more frequent evaluations – certainly can’t be attached to a single lumber order; and yet, the cost must be passed along, somehow. By selectively choosing only those suppliers who can unwaveringly provide proof of sustainable and responsible forestry practices, we protect both ourselves and our customers from legal repercussions; however, such careful scrutiny comes with a cost. And yes, it does mean that we probably won’t have the lowest prices for any given exotic lumber species.
As we approach the fifth and final post in this series, we hope you’re beginning to appreciate all that goes into lumber pricing. It really is quite the multi-faceted process.
Learn More About the Lumber Industry
• Why Plywood Grading Falls Short
• Lumber Color Demystified: Putting Color Matching in Perspective
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods and has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.
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