The weather pattern that gripped most of the interior BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in record-breaking cold temperatures has abated.

Some locations now have temperatures that by comparison must feel like spring has arrived. At the same time that we have this contrasting weather pattern, we also have a contrast in the lumber market from one week to the next.

Better than expected numbers on US housing starts seemed to get the market rolling last week and mills reported very strong activity across most product lines. This gave a shot to the market, with solid activity on the US side and the Canadian market followed suit. This hit all segments of the market, from lumber to OSB to plywood, for an even distribution of strength. It was very exciting to see such strong activity and the market continues to feel well-balanced as we start to turn our attention toward spring.

Western Retail Lumber Association Buying Show

Join us in Calgary at the WRLA Buying Show on Thursday, January 23rd and Friday, January 24th. It’s an opportunity to meet us in person and discuss the general lumber market. Look for us at booth 784 and we would be happy to see you there.

See Event Map

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Slight Silver Lining From BC Mill Closures

With a number of mill closures in BC, there has been a sense of urgency both for the employees and the communities that they create work for. But an RBC research report demonstrates that it’s not all bad news. As an estimated 18% of the province’s lumber producing capacity has been taken offline, it may help the North American market prices come in line as a result of supply meeting demand. As a result, housing starts are expected to rise.

Read More.


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Is There an End to the Forest Industry Struggles?

As the forestry sector continues to spiral down with the closure of mills, the high prices, and other obstacles, many people believe this situation is worse than the 2008 global meltdown. It’s difficult to see any end in sight.

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Is $5 Million Put Forth By the BC Government for Forestry Strike Enough?

The BC government has provided access to parts of a $5 million dollar loan for contractors affected by the 7-month forestry strike on Vancouver Island. But does it make a dent to those who need it most?

Read More.


Dimensional Lumber


As noted above, the dimensional lumber market took off late last week with a strong surge in activity across all products. The activity was led primarily in the 2x4 market.


We saw larger mills with strong takeaway to achieve their numbers and start to push them a little higher, specifically into the US market. In Canada, the smaller mills also reported busy activity, as inventories were cleaned out quite quickly. Many of the short players in the market that were prevalent a couple of days prior, disappeared as wholesalers brought their numbers up to avoid being pinched.


Prior to this recent activity, there was not much 2x6 material available. Moving beyond this recent activity into this week, it appears that the 6” market will remain tight in the near term. We are not seeing many strong offerings from mills and there are plenty of broken tallies out there. If you find the tallies you are searching for, expect the numbers to be quite a bit higher.


There was some strength seen on 2x8 during this run of activity, as before it began, there was some product available in the market. The long lengths were being offered but since the flurry, it appears that they have tightened up. It now appears that 2x8 material is difficult to source with some mills completely pulled off the market to play catchup.


The 2x10 market also participated in the activity. We are not seeing the same type of offerings being put out by mills early this week, as they try to replenish their stock and get a sense of where their order files are going. It will be difficult to source out 10” products in the near term, so if you do need something immediately, expect to pay a premium out of distribution.


There is some difficulty in finding 16’ material from the 2x12 market again. Pricing remains quite firm and the overall 2x12 market continues to really move on it’s own terms.


The stud market has followed suit with the rest of the market, with strong activity. As mills put out lists, prompt items are being taken up very quickly. The West Fraser, High Prairie list was picked over last week and again to start this week, as everyone hurries to get their stud needs filled for the immediate term.

2x6 104 ⅝ are extremely tight at the moment, but all high-quality studs are in very limited supply. With that, immediate needs will be quite challenging to fill, so caution should be exercised.

MSR Lumber

MSR has not changed much week-over-week. Longs continue to be extremely difficult to source in 2x4 and 2x6. There is still some very good value in 2x4 1650, as there is no huge premium over good quality #2&btr material. This poses an excellent opportunity.

All the spreads are fairly minimal at the moment compared to what we typically see heading into spring. For the most part, availability is out 2 to 3 weeks with prompt being more difficult to find. That scenario is expected to continue and possibly get tighter as we get into spring.

Panel Products


The panel market was also a recipient of the strong activity seen last week, with both OSB and plywood showing strong sales and order files being bolstered. Pricing also pushed higher as a result.


Mills had been struggling to build an order file over the past several weeks but finally found activity after some light discounting early last week. As mentioned over the last several weeks, the value of plywood is very strong and customers began to come to the table to look after spring needs.

There was a strong plywood purchase frenzy throughout the middle part of the week. As a result, mills removed those discounts, and although prices did not get pushed higher, remaining flat by the end of the week, order files have been pushed out to mid-February. The thought now is that mills will sit back on their order files and takeaway will continue to strength. The hope is that prices will appreciate as we get closer to spring.

The time to purchase plywood is upon us as it remains near the lows of the last couple of years.


In OSB, we saw a good week in sales. Mills were able to push numbers up in response to stronger sales. As a result, prices were pushed higher and discounts were removed as we saw print up last week. The sense is that OSB will print up again this week with firmness in the market, strong US takeaway, and the Canadian market stepping in with consumers realizing that the bottom is most likely behind us for the moment.

Market Experts

Lumber is what we do! Our traders are in the market all day, every day. Let us share our knowledge with you, if you have any questions, never hesitate to give us a call.

Contact Our Team Today


The weather pattern that gripped most of the interior BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in record-breaking cold temperatures has abated.

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