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Wisconsin Building Supply is a destination for industry insight and a marketplace for valuable products at discounted prices.

Please remember, item availability is not guaranteed. All sales are final. Upon request, purchased items can be transferred to the WBS location nearest you. For additional information on any of the items listed, please contact the WBS location carrying the item/s.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

November Market Update

It's the holiday season, a time that reminds us to reflect gratefully on the past year and look forward to what's in store for 2014. We'd like to express our sincerest gratitude to our customers as we reflect on 2013. Rebounding from the recession has been a slow process only made possible by the perseverance of builders and their confidence in the industry. All of us at WBS thank you for your business and loyalty throughout this time. As we look forward, projections verify there are good times to come. Read below for current building industry conditions and forecasts for upcoming months.

Cost of Framing Materials

Framing material costs in the month of November are keeping confidence levels up as we head further into the winter months. Prices experienced a slight lift, up 2.11% from last month, and were 2.23% higher than November 2012. Costs of framing materials are closely matching what was projected-slow, continuous growth through the remainder of 2013. Experiencing growth during the winter months, a time normally vulnerable to seasonal lull, is encouraging to both builders and suppliers.

Overseas Exports Surge in 2013

In the third quarter, U.S. exports of softwood lumber hit their highest quarterly total since 1997 with volumes up 22% from 2012 according to Random Lengths. Canadian offshore exports increased dramatically to 1.48 billion board feet in the third quarter, up 28% from one year ago. A major portion of the surge in U.S. exports can be attributed to China showing a 68% increase. Other Asian destinations were active, including a 19% increase to the Philippines, but traders are unsure exactly how much the recent typhoon will influence the demand in the country. Meanwhile, U.S. imports from offshore suppliers continued to rise, but at a slower pace when compared the first half of the year. Overall imports from offshore gained 47% compared to last year.

Design Trend: Big Garage, Small Presence

Americans' demand for more space and storage is creating a challenge for residential home designers. Many homebuyers want or require a three-car garage, but not at the expense of their curb appeal. Builders have accepted the challenge and are creating custom designs that allow plenty of room for storage, but showcase the true qualities
of a home. In some floor plans you can't even spot the garage from the front of the
home at all. Read more and see example illustrations of these innovative design solutions on

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

October Market Update

Mild weather and smooth, steady supply distribution have lead to a conventional conclusion of October. A late surge in activity drove prices up only slightly. After a quiet autumn season, traders and buyers alike are looking towards winter with optimism as we now rebound further from the recession and move at a manageable pace. Work with your WBS salesperson to ensure you're equipped with everything you need as you prepare for winter projects.

Cost of Framing Materials Lift, Remain Steady

Costs of framing materials were up slightly in October showing a 2.14% increase from the minor dip we saw last month. Prices are a narrow 3.09% above last year's costs, but are much higher than 2011. This further indicates that last year's price differential was likely the most drastic to occur throughout the housing recovery, with more steady and gradual increases to follow.

Southern Pine Fir Supply Shows Uncertainty

Canada's aggressive SPF harvest program in the wake of the Mountain Pine Beetle devastation has lumber traders bracing themselves for a ripple effect. We're uncertain exactly how it will affect the market, but developments already occurring include the closing of two Western Canadian sawmills, Canfor and West Fraser. As a result, heavy speculative buying has driven prices up and orders out to November in mills across the U.S. and Canada, according to Random Lengths. The impact may not be as significant as many would assume, though. Traders have been prepared, knowing production adjustments were coming due to limited harvest after the beetle kill. Companies across the U.S. and Canada are considering increased production to offset the loss as they were already making plans to increase capacity in North America overall to meet rising demand after the recession.

Mass Timber Makes Gains in the U.S.

The use of mass timber for the creation of large-scale buildings is already widely accepted in Canada and Europe. Now, it's slowly gaining credibility as a cost-effective, sustainable and practical alternative to traditional methods of using concrete and steel. The benefits of switching to mass timber have gained credibility thanks to a recently issued report by a leading U.S. architectural firm in Chicago that has developed a system to construct a 42-story tower primarily using mass timber. Critics of mass framing timber focus on the risk of fire or panel shrinkage over time, but supporters claim sprinkler systems and advanced engineering temper those concerns.

Embracing Universal Design

A myth exists that if a homeowner chooses a universal design for a room layout then they must sacrifice appearance. As reported by JLC Online, universal design is trending, specifically in bathrooms. The concept of universal design aims to help contractors and designers turn rooms into safe, well-planned living spaces. Bathrooms can be hazardous areas with wet, slippery, small spaces with hard surfaces and edges, making them the ideal rooms for universal design elements such as railings, benches, easy-access showers and more. See how some leading design experts are taking universal layouts and outfitting them with a modern and original design.

Monday, October 7, 2013

September Market Update

As we conclude what has been quite an eventful summer, we look forward to discovering what fall has in store. As you'll read below, prices have leveled off from the steady increase we've seen consistently through 2013, making the coming months less predictable. Please continue to check in with your WBS Sales Team to ensure you're equipped and prepared for all your fall projects.


Costs Change with the Seasons

After experiencing a steady momentum of growth in housing this year, we're seeing activity begin to slow down in September. Although pricing pressure in framing materials has eased somewhat and is slightly down from last year at this time, building materials have taken the opportunity to pass through price increases that they have been holding off on for some time. Please consult with your WBS salesperson to better understand what impact, if any, this may have on your projects. These prices are also consistent with the usual deceleration of activity as we transition from Summer - the height of the building season. Aside from seasonal impact, mortgage rates have increased and could be a contributing factor to slower demand.

Builders Prepare, Strategize for New Impending Code

The 2012 International Residential Code has been adopted by five states already and is expected to gain more ground, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. This new regulation places increased demand on I-joists over unfinished basements, requiring ½ inch gypsum board or the equivalent fire protection to be applied to ceilings and above crawl spaces used for storage or contain fuel-fired appliances. The new code has builders across the U.S. strategizing for the most cost-effective solutions, and many also are projecting how this change will affect the demand and pricing for I-joists in the future. I-joist producers are suggesting a solution to apply a half inch of drywall to ceilings to bring them up to code, while others suggest selecting sawn 2x10s to avoid the need for sprinklers and sheetrock. Forest Economic Advisors are projecting the code will give 2x10s a competitive advantage over I-joists by 2017, when the code is expected to be in effect for an estimated 60% of the nation.

Rate, Economy, Weather - And China - All Make Their Mark

This year marked the highest level of builder confidence (58%) in eight years, but shifts in housing trends through September are leaving traders with lists of uncertainties as they head into the fourth quarter. Analysts report recent gains in mortgage rates as a key factor impacting the industry's growth and they will be watched closely through the fourth quarter. Additionally, the economy as a whole continues to be hindered by slow job growth. Weather has made a great impact on lumber trade this year, particularly in the South, which has experienced a soaked summer. Traders are hoping for a dry fall to rectify the shortage. Lastly, exports to China jumped after a second quarter slump in softwood lumber. We'll be watching off-shore demand closely, as it impacts the Western lumber supply for the U.S.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July Market Update

As we reach the mid-point of the year we all are feeling the effects of an
increasingly even and robust recovery within our industry. Lead times from
manufacturers have increased, trucking from wholesalers and mills continues to
be in high demand and labor in the field is tight and appears to be tightening
even more as we head farther into the year. We've seen some softening within
the commodity markets over the last few weeks but we are still higher than last
year at this time. It appears that the market has found a sustainable level and
is showing some slight rebound after this most recent decline. We would expect
this slow climb to be the norm for the rest of the year barring any unforeseen
storms. It's interesting to note that more mills in both framing lumber and
panels are coming back on line and capacity within the system is increasing.
This should help stabilize prices in the near term. Please work with your WBS
sales person to get a perspective on how these developments may affect your
projects specifically.


As activity slowed in the second quarter, forecasters tracking U.S. housing
starts have dialed back projections for single-family housing, while increasing
the share of new home start-ups in the multi-family sector. According to Random
Lengths, the decrease in single-family starts is due to recent gains in interest
rates, slowed employment growth and existing home inventory. Although housing
start projections have been decreased, the forecasts are still 4% higher than
projections from January, upholding the slow and steady growth calculated for
the remainder of this year and into 2014.


A recent survey by the NAHB provided data on building material costs across
the U.S. from May 2012 to May 2013 as reported by both builders and building
material sellers. Builders cited the following frequently purchased materials
to have recent price increases (in the order of largest percentage): framing
lumber, OSB, plywood, gypsum, trusses, ready-mix concrete, roofing materials,
and cement. Dealers also purchased the same materials most often, but cited a
higher increase in cost. These findings were consistent across all regions.
Current cost hikes can be attributed to a slow recovery starting at the
manufacturers' level. Builder Online notes, "Manufacturers experienced the same
collapse in their markets. After ramping up capacity to supply the construction
of more than 2 million homes a year, home building fell to barely 0.5 million."
The article closes with this reminder: "As production comes back, resources will
return but it will take time. The slow housing rebound may be a blessing in
disguise giving the rest of the housing support system time to rebuild."

Find the full article on

Friday, May 31, 2013

April Market Update

It appears we have finally turned the corner and are actually having spring. Many areas are still dealing with wet ground and standing water, but it appears to be getting a little better every day. The bull market we have seen in the commodity market has shown signs of leveling off. It will be interesting to see how prices are affected by the warmer weather and the uptick in demand. As always, please continue to direct any questions to your WBS salesperson. As part of our spring kick-off we are pleased to announce our “Hit the Deck” promotion. You can earn a $150 Visa gift card by purchasing $2000 of TREX decking and railing May 1 through June 30. You can earn the gift card by a single purchase of product or by a series of smaller purchases. Please remember that only TREX product counts towards the $2000. Treated lumber, fasteners and hangers do not count. Please ask your WBS salesperson for details.

Great Recession Created Leaner Industry

Random Lengths’ annual compensation survey further illustrates that the historic market downturn of the past several years had a significant impact on the entire lumber industry. From mills to retail locations, everyone has had to do more with less sales and staff.  In response to the recession’s reduced sales volumes—which were sometimes reduced as much as 50% compared to prior years—Internet transactions, leaner workforces, reduced benefits, more diversified product mixes and an increased focus on credit monitoring are now commonplace at mills, throughout the distribution channel and at retail outlets.  In 2012 45% of transactions at mills were done over the Internet, up from slightly more than 25% in 2005.

While there is no question that the Great Recession has been a difficult period, there are upsides as well.  As a whole, the industry has learned to live with less and is better prepared to manage costs as the market improves, suggesting a stronger and more nimble industry as we move forward.

Strong Structural Panel Output

In North America, first quarter structural panel production was at its highest level since the third quarter of 2008.  According to the APA—the Engineered Wood Association—at 7.2 billion square feet, output was up 4.9% from the first quarter of 2012 and up 4.2% from the fourth quarter. Specifically, gains were greatest in OSB, which was up 8.5% from a year earlier with prices staying near double year-earlier levels. Plywood also increased 4.7% in this period.

APA Outlook for 2013: Steady Growth

Despite some lingering vulnerabilities to tax increases and government spending cuts, slow and steady growth is predicted for residential construction through 2013. Driven by improved employment numbers, increasing consumer confidence, pent up demand and firming home prices, the APA estimates housing starts to reach just short of 1 million units this year. This means the elevated demand for supplies that drove 2012 production increases will continue and in most cases accelerate in 2013. In fact, this month already, the cost of framing materials for a typical two-story home in May is up 24.14% over this month last year.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Market Update

Greetings from the great white north! Despite the fact we live in Wisconsin it has been a bit of a shock to the system that we are having more of a traditional winter season. In some parts of the state there is little snow on the ground and in others there is snow and frost 2+ feet into the ground. The extra snow will be good for the fields and lakes once it melts but it makes our work a little tougher.

The big question we hear from our customers is how high will this commodity market go? Without a doubt this is one of the more vexing issues we face as we head into our building season. These bull market conditions are unlike anything we've seen at this time of year. Since the housing slowdown 148 mills have been closed or shuttered and this has reduced capacity for production. A typical mill will produce about 150 million board feet per year. In 2006, 3% of Canadian lumber production was exported to Asian countries. The Asian market is now drawing almost 40% of the production out of the system and their demand is not expected to lessen. Consequently, we have three things that are impacting pricing: an uptick in domestic demand, reduced capacity at the mills and a much larger export market. The last challenge we face is there is little product in the pipeline at the wholesale level which exposes all of us to increased volatility.

How can we best work together on this? Communication. Please communicate with your sales person on your projects and when you expect them to ship. This gives us the opportunity to work with our purchasing team to try and protect the pricing for the project. Please communicate with your customers that it is very difficult to hold prices beyond 30 days. Many of our customers are telling us they now have a 30 day quote policy with the homeowner.

Cost of Framing Materials Continues to Climb

The numbers are in and the demand for building materials in February proves that 2013 will be an interesting year for the housing industry. Cost of framing materials in February is 3.65% higher when compared to January and is 32.77% higher than last year. Pricing for framing materials has not been at this level since 2006.  

Reduced Design Values for Southern Pine by June 2013     

After reports of surprising weaknesses in 2x4 lumber, a series of tests within sawmills in Southern Pine growing regions were conducted to reassess the lumber's value. The American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) has voted to issue new design values for Southern Pine, including all sizes and grades of dimensional lumber. Design values for #2 2x4 Southern Pine were already reduced last year as a result of preliminary testing. Now, 2x8 and 2x10 lumber has been tested as well, including #1, #2, and Select Structural grades. The results found values were significantly lower for the modulus of elasticity (MOE) and modulus of rupture of the lumber. The change will incite an adjustment period for decking, flooring and framing professionals--especially truss makers who will need to redesign the manufacture of their products by June 2013.

The good news is that we are well aware of these changes and have already taken the steps to be prepared. Our truss manufacturing facility has already reviewed all the software design values and will be incorporating these changes well ahead of the June timeline. You can expect a seamless transition to the new specifications.

Strong Sales in 2013 Negate Lumber's Winter Weather Troubles

Harsh winter weather has lead to reports of slowed production and consumption of various lumber products across the nation. Northern markets were overwhelmed by winter storms, but demand remained steady due to new sales orders extending into March. The south battled bouts of rain, causing limited availability for large logs, thus driving up prices of all #2 widths.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Market Update

Happy New Year! Just like last year the winter of 2012/13 is shaping up to be unusual for a variety of reasons. Last winter we benefited from an unusually mild winter and we were all able to be in the field on a more consistent basis and our customers did not feel the need to delay projects due to poor weather. This year we are already into mid-January and our weather has again been milder than expected. However, what has changed from last year, is the commodity market and the vendor market as it relates to pricing increases. Last year the markets were flat and predictable to the time of the year. This year many vendors in the building materials categories have announced or are expected to announce price increases for the year and many are saying there are more on the way. In addition, the commodity market, as you will see below is at levels higher then we have seen since 2004. Some people believe this is the floor for the year and prices will continue to increase. Other people are saying this is unsustainable and that the market will have a correction and a fall back as part of a healthy market. Speculators have begun to place money in the market and exports are stronger than ever. This means that we will see volatility returning to the market in ways we have not seen in many years. Many suppliers and wholesalers do not carry the inventory they once did and therefore we all feel the swings of the market more acutely than we did in the past. Please keep an open line of communication with your salesperson and let them know when projects are expected to start so we may work with you more effectively to ensure a profitable project for all of us.

Cost of Framing Materials Continues to Climb

With January now behind us, the new year is officially underway and reports prove the slow and steady growth of building material prices continues into 2013. Demand for materials has increased framing material costs 3.21% when compared to December of last year and 30.71% when compared to this same time last year. This serves as a great example of the changes that the building industry has experienced in the last year alone.

Remodeling on the Rise   

Reports of last year's activity prove that home remodeling is slowly and steadily making an upward turn. Through November 2012, improvement expenses on new residential structures averaged a seasonal adjusted rate of $123 billion, up from $114 billion in 2011, according to the Random Lengths Reports. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies forecasts the improvements to continue, predicting a double-digit percentage on improvement spending in the first half of 2013. Industry experts attribute the remodeling trend to a high percentage of distressed home sales and buyers choosing the more economical decision to fix up a home rather than buy or build a new one.

Sandy Relief Efforts Impact Supply

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the building industry has been met with both opportunities and challenges to meet demands for products on the east coast. Timber prices have increased substantially, and distribution is struggling to keep up. Demand for Southern Pine 2x4s and 4x4s has increased to repair fences, boardwalks, piers and docks in the northeast. In the west, high demand for small timbers, such as 2x4, have put pricing gains at their peak since 2005. An unusual spike in orders throughout the west in combination with hurricane relief efforts, have mills adjusting production plans to accommodate the high-volume orders in a time when supplies have been limited.