What has happened to the price of wood?

by Mars

We decided that we would extend our vegetable garden this year and make some 2×2 metre raised beds in the field so that we can grow sprawling vegetables like pumpkins and squash, sweet corn and some cut flowers for Kirsten. The plan was to remove the grass and build the raise beds to a height of around 40cm using 8×2-inch boards.

I started to pull up the grass for our beds this morning, and calculated exactly how many boards we’d need for the raised beds (and for the compost bin extensions). All in all, we worked out that we needed 40 4.2-metre boards.

I called our wood merchants at lunchtime to put in our order because it typically takes them 5-7 days to make the delivery. I gave them our account number (to get our discount) and I nearly fell off my chair when the salesman informed me the wood amounted to £1,135. This was our discounted price. £1,135. That’s a whopping £6.80 per metre.

I asked the sales guy if he’d made a mistake and he laughed saying no he hadn’t and that the price of wood has skyrocketed because of supply issues across the UK. I have no idea whether that’s true or not, but £28.50 for a 4.2-metre, 8×2-inch board is sheer madness.

Needless to say I never placed the order and we’ve decided to be a bit more creative. We have plenty of pallets that we’ve collected for various projects, and I’m going to cut them down to size and build the beds from them. We probably won’t have enough for all the raised beds, so I’ll visit our local hardware store and collect used pallets from them which they give away for free. From our perspective this is a far more sensible and sustainable approach, because whatever pallets are left over, they typically burn or discard.

It’s going to be a lot more work, but it’s the right thing to do from a sustainability perspective and it’ll save us over £1,000.


anna mycoe 14 May 2021 - 22:19

Hi Mars
The price of materials is ridiculous at the moment, you have made a smart move !!

Mars 15 May 2021 - 07:11

Thanks Anna. We’ll have to wait and see how they turn out.

Lesley 16 May 2021 - 07:23

Yes, it’s gone crazy. All building materials have gone through the roof, IF you can get them. Multiple factors they say, Brexit causing supply chain delays, demand from DIY projects in lockdown… One of the reasons we’re building more hugelkutur beds at the moment is that we refuse to pay what they’re asking for wood at the moment. Unfortunately this is affecting our self build too as insulation, cement, plasterboard are all similarly affected. Crazy times

Mars 17 May 2021 - 08:19

I did wonder whether you guys were affected, and I can’t believe that other materials have gone up in price too. It is crazy.

I cut down some pallets yesterday, and they look really great as raised beds. I’ll post some photos when they’re done. I’ve contemplated hugelkutur beds in the past because we have access to loads of wood and organic matter. I may experiment with one bed this year and see how it goes – just concerned about the rabbits.

Cathy 14 May 2021 - 22:59

The prices are sky high here too… if you can get it at all! Same with lots of other building materials and the building trade and garden designers are saying their order books are full but they can’t supply. The reasons given are broken delivery chains… This should not be the case in our region – the heart of forestry in Germany. So it makes you wonder…. Good luck with the pallets.

Mars 15 May 2021 - 07:16

Can’t believe there are supply issues in the Germany. That’s just crazy. The salesman also mentioned massive demand in China and the United States with most global exports headed there. This, coupled with broken logistics chains (and Brexit for us), may all be contributing factors. I hope prices go down at some stage because we make a lot of things from wood.

Fabio DeLima 15 May 2021 - 04:27

Good move, Mars!

Mars 15 May 2021 - 07:17

Thanks Fabio. Hopefully the pallets do the trick. They won’t look as neat as sawn lengths of wood, but fingers crossed they do the trick.

NormanB 15 May 2021 - 09:03

It’s the same in North America – the ‘Brexit effect’ is clearly very pervasive and far reaching.

Eddy Winko 15 May 2021 - 10:01

I was curious how much it would be here as I have just received delivery of about 6 cubic meters cut to size for a building project and was told that prices are expected to rise soon.
If my calculations are correct you need 1.6 cubic meters of wood, price in Poland 1440 zloty or roughly £280
Either imports for the EU are putting pressure on UK prices, or someone is making a lot of money!

Mars 15 May 2021 - 10:37

Thanks Eddy. That £280 sounds more reasonable. I’ve not been hugely attentive to prices for previous wood orders, probably because they’ve smaller, but I was thinking this order should have been around £350-£400, not three times that.

Ken 15 May 2021 - 11:53

I’ve seen on a woodworking channel that the price of “lumber” has skyrocketed in the US as well… Think I’ll wait to build our raised beds 😕

Gary Hardman 15 May 2021 - 17:42

Pallets are a good choice. They tend to be very hard lumber.
You might also consider non-standard lumber like wooden fence posts. These tend to be cheaper and as long as you don’t need it pretty, they work just fine.

Mars 15 May 2021 - 21:31

Great suggestion on the posts. This is definitely going to be an exercise in striking the balance between practical application and aesthetics.

The Re-Farmer 16 May 2021 - 06:31

Prices have gone insane here in Canada, too – up by about 300%, in general. Locally, a single sheet of 3/4 inch plywood is almost Cdn$150. In the city, they’re about $85, last I checked. They used to be about $35 a sheet in the city, so about $50 a sheet, locally. At least we have some available, though. The guy who price checked it for me told me of a customer who’d driven from British Columbia to our province to get some. Last summer, my brother had to go to another province to get lumber for his deck.

I knew about the price increases in Canada and the US, but didn’t think it’d be the same in the UK, too!

Mars 17 May 2021 - 08:27

So interesting to hear from all the comments that it’s a global issue with the US, Canada, Germany and the UK affected. Given the amount of timber Canada must produce, it’s crazy to hear your prices have skyrocketed too.

Christian 17 May 2021 - 08:03

A lot of commodity prices went up. In absolute terms, they’re often still at okay prices because the 1–2 years prior, prices dropped. So relative per-year change is overly dramatic.

Except lumber. Geez.

Check out the lumber price index history here: https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/lumber

In Germany, you can get wood from the local DIY stores at normal prices, but serious building material is apparently getting scarce, too.

Good call upcycling the paletts. My grandpa built a whole tool shed with 2 rooms from these and it stood for 40 years 🙂

Mars 17 May 2021 - 08:24

Thanks for the comments and insights Christian. The lumber price index certainly echoes the extortionate prices of timber. It’s madness.

Can’t believe your granddad built a large shed from pallets. That’s amazing. Pallets are very underrated. I cut two down to size yesterday and they look really awesome and authentic in the field. Hopefully, if I can get my hands on a few more this week, I’ll get all my new raised beds in.

Christian 21 May 2021 - 09:12

He even reused the nails when there were any in wooden boxes he throw into the mix. Like: extract, hammer dtraight, insert into shed. Sound weird coming from today’s availability of everything. But that’s how people did, apparently, build stuff cheap 🙂

Cindy 18 May 2021 - 07:12

Same in Belgium. I pay about €6,33/m
And pallets are hard to find in our country.
Good luck with the project

Mars 18 May 2021 - 07:18

Thank you Cindy. We were able to collect a dozen pallets yesterday from our hardware store, so hopefully by the weekend the new beds will be built.

NormanB 3 June 2021 - 09:14

For anyone interested in understanding the supply chain issues (rather than correlating every problem to Brexit) and has 20 minutes to spare, then I recommend this YT video – https://youtu.be/b1JlYZQG3lI


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