IN DEPTH: Engineered Lumber Products
Dramatic changes in the market are boosting the ELP category.
BY: CRAIG A. SHUTT
A number of factors are boosting sales for engineered lumber products, including the reviving market, code changes and a desire for more efficiency. As builders consider potential options, pressures on the supply chain could create new challenges.
“There’s been a lot of movement in a lot of different directions in the market,” says Ben Midgette, EWP engineer and technical services manager for LP Building Products. “We are probably impacted less than structural panels, but LVL, LSL, I-joists and rimboard are being impacted by what’s going on.”
“We’re seeing the market for I-joists and LVL grow significantly as the housing market heats up,” says Joe Elling, market research director for APA-The Engineered Wood Association. He reports that I-joist production is up 10% in North America in the first half of 2014, while LVL output is up 13%. “Since housing starts hit bottom in 2009, we’ve seen steady increases for ELP,” he says. “But we’re still well short of where the market was in the mid- 2000s, and we don’t anticipate getting back to the two million starts we were doing then.”
Bobby Byrd, OSB sales manager at Roy O Martin, also has noticed the upturn. “We are seeing more engineered wood products in multifamily and single-family residential projects as the housing market increases. In a typical single-family home, we are noticing more engineered wood beams and engineered floor joists.”
Some of the factors increasing demand, Midgette notes, result from stresses on supplies of dimensional lumber. Those include increased exports, reduced cut from beetle kill, new Canadian regulations and lowered design values for Southern yellow pine. “According to some economic forecasters, we are heading for market dynamics that may drive faster strand-lumber adoption.”