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The price is (almost) right

Lumber prices are falling, and that’s good. But availability is still spotty for the “good stuff.”

After a year of insane prices for even common dimensional lumber, costs continue to decrease. Not fast enough for a lot of us, but the prices are definitely going down. But in a your-mileage-may-vary sense, getting your hands on decent lumber is only marginally improving.

I needed a quantity of dimensional lumber this week – several 2x4s and a good bit of 1-by material – and headed out to get some. The prices were lower than the last time I made a run like this, and the stock was greater than before, too, but what I was finding wasn’t making me very happy.


Yikes, what a bunch of crummy wood. Clearly, although there appears to be a price recovery in effect for common lumber, what they’re getting in is of a far inferior quality than I’m used to seeing, even in Big Box stores where high-quality common lumber is typically anything but common. Big Box lumber in the past has always sufficed for my needs (as long as I was willing to dig through the stacks a bit). But even at lower prices, getting what you need isn’t always worth the price.

Fortunately, I have a secondary source of common lumber that was always a bit pricier, but always of better quality. I headed there and found that, yes, the prices were higher. And while the quality was better than what’s currently available at my local Big Box store, it’s not a lot better. In fact, what I saw (and bought) was about you could usually find at the Big Box if you dig through the stacks.

So the bottom line is that I’m getting wood of the quality I used to get – with a bit of work – at the Big Box store, but I’m getting it for a price that’s proportionally higher than I would have paid at the better suppliers two years ago. But the quality isn’t what I would have gotten two years ago. This is all boiling down to a scenario that you get what you can get, where you can get it, and you pay the going rate. Right now, that rate is still high. But the fact that some things are leveling out is at least a good sign. I think.

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