Engineered wood products have been around for centuries-even the ancient Egyptians used engineered wood for everything from furniture to tombs. Now engineered wood products are enjoying widespread popularity thanks to their sustainability, their versatility and their ability to streamline the construction process.
The construction industry is under pressure thanks to the ongoing pandemic. A recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report in May showed that new residential construction, privately-owned housing starts were 23.2% below the 2019 rate. Despite these setbacks, manufacturers are optimistic that the construction industry will lead economic recovery. “We’ve reset our expectations for 2021 due to housing starts and COVID-19 implications for the economy,” says Wendy Minichiello of Weyerhaeuser. “For our EWP products, however, we’re excited about growth opportunities in other customer segments such as industrial and mass timber.”
The construction industry has been beset by labor shortages for some years now, exacerbated by the pandemic. Reduced labor pools lead to an increase in the adoption of efficient building techniques and products that reduce time and effort. Engineered wood products provide the kind of efficiency that allows construction projects to remain on time and budget with fewer workers required for installation. “We are seeing an increased demand for efficiency,” Cameron Bailey, LP SmartSide senior brand manager told the LBM Journal.
Engineered wood products mean less cutting on the jobsite, fewer mistakes, less waste and more efficient installation which helps companies meet production schedules. Construction managers may be reticent to try new products which is why it is imperative that engineered wood companies provide support to mitigate risks associated with installation.
Manufacturers need to work on building relationships with customers so that they are able to help solve problems and provide support for successful installations. One way to do this is through training. The pandemic has created a greater demand for engineered wood products and manufacturers are coming up with innovative training techniques. LP Building Solutions, for example, created an online training program with The Kruse Brothers. “Feedback has proven the virtual training sessions to be just as effective, if not more effective, than in-person training, “says LP’s Cameron Bailey. “We’ve actually seen an increase in attendance—likely a result of the convenience factor of a virtual event.”
Along with the adoption of engineered wood products, construction companies are also turning to technology to create more efficient jobsites. Software provides support and analysis that save time and money.
The construction industry is slow to change or adopt new products and building methods. However, the pandemic and labor shortage offer a unique opportunity for engineered wood products to take up more of the market and for innovative construction companies to adopt products that make them more efficient.