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Pressure-treated lumber’s hard to find. And more expensive

Mills shut down when the coronavirus began circulating, so there's less wood available for people spending vacation money on their homes.

A cascade of delays has led to a shortage of pressure-treated lumber. And higher prices.

“It’s really simple,” said Dave Arronson, president of Grubb Lumber, a to-the-trade supplier in Wilmington.

“Wood was not harvested, not milled and not treated” earlier this year when many businesses were shut down by coronavirus restrictions. Yet “everybody was sitting at home, with nothing to do, and … they decided to build a deck.

“Home Depot and Lowe’s sold out of their yearlong quota by the end of May. The world’s opened back up, and everybody’s just behind.”

Prices of pressure-treated lumber have gone up 50 percent since March, he said. “It’s supply, demand and greed.”

Grubb has some holes in its inventory, of, say, particular sizes of pressure-treated lumber, and Arronson said that he has also seen shortages of plywood and other types of lumber.

Shortages of pressure-treated lumber have been reported across the country.

“Our trucks are getting delayed further and further out, which is making it harder for us to restock,” said Steven Gove, store manager of 84 Lumber in Milford. “We have a lot more orders this year than last year. I’d say four times the amount of orders. So we have more orders and less product to get shipped to us.”

The main shortage is treated lumber, he said.

The lumber mills that normally send wood to treatment plants cut back on their production by 50 percent when the coronavirus started circulating, he said.

“Everybody canceled their vacations and everybody is staying at home now building decks and putting all that vacation money towards home improvement, so our sales have kind of skyrocketed and the amount of product that’s available in the market nationwide is much lower.”

Gove said 84 Lumber has eight stores in the area and is able to transfer wood between them, unlike some of the box stores that don’t.

“We’ve been able to keep it going where we’re not actually shorting our customers anything,” he said, “but with that, we’ve got this huge influx of new customers who are trying to continue buying.”

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