BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — We've seen COVID-19 related shortages of toilet paper, Lysol products, and meat. Now there is a new one to be concerned about: wood.
Pressure-treated wood has become a hard-to-find commodity because of the pandemic.
When the coronavirus hit in March 2020, the lumber mills shutdown. But many people stuck at home decided it was a great time to do home improvement projects such as working on a deck, fencing, or putting in a pool.
"With the supply being reduced in the pipeline, and the consumer demand being up, it created a perfect storm of sorts," said Steve Coppola, vice-president of Len-Co Lumber in Buffalo.
"I have empty racks in my yard here. Normally, I never had an empty rack," added Robert Niemiec at Niemiec Builders Supplies, Inc. in Buffalo's historic Black Rock section.
Niemiec Builders Supplies has been in operation for more than 70 years. Robert Niemiec, who worked for the family-owned business for 43-years, said he never saw a situation like the one being caused by Covid-19.
"I could get a truckload in and it is gone in a day," said Niemiec. "It is more in demand than gold right now."
The situation is not only affecting contractors and retailers, it is also impacting do-it-yourselfers who need treated wood for their projects.
"Things that would typically take 2 to 3 days to come in are taking 2 to 3 weeks. Things that normally take 2 to 3 weeks have been taking 2 to 3 months," added Steve Coppola.
Low supply and high demand is pushing up the price of treated wood where it is getting close to more expensive options like cedar or composite board, explained Steve Coppola at Len-Co Lumber.
Robert Niemiec said he is hearing concerns that plywood and roofing are the next building supply items to be affected
Both Len-co and Niemiec said they expect the shortage to continue into the fall when demand for wood usually decreases as the weather turns colder.
The two businesses provided the following advice for people who have projects in mind:
- If you have not started your wood project yet, put it off until next year.
- Consider using thicker or longer pieces of pressure-treated wood. Those are easier to find than the common sizes used in decking and fencing.
- If you call around and find someone who has what you need, don't wait to buy it. It will probably be gone quickly.
- Len-Co is taking pre-orders from customers who need pressure-treated wood.
- For those on tight deadlines, consider using other types of wood such as cedar (which can still be hard to find itself) or man-made products like composite board. The price difference between those and treated wood have come closer due to the shortage.