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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 15, 2021

If Your Time is short

  • A widely shared Facebook post claims the price of plywood is up 252% in just over a year.

  • A wood industry said the price increases, as a result of market factors, have risen in that range.

A widely circulated Facebook post that complained about the cost of plywood stated:

"Food for thought — 3/4" Plywood Standard:

    March 2020 - $37.98 /sheet

    February 2021 - $72.49 /sheet

    March 2021 - $83.49 /sheet

    April 2021 - $95.98 /sheet

That is 252% price increase on one of the most used piece of common lumber for construction."

Below the text is a photo of what appears to be a Home Depot price tag. The tag, dated April 5, 2021, says ¾ Standard Plywood is $95.98 each.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

A Home Depot spokeswoman told us the company could not verify whether the photo is legitimate, and would only say that the chain store’s lumber pricing is based on commodities pricing. 

But there are indications that the price of plywood has risen in the range of 252%.

Shawn Church, editor of Random Lengths, which publishes price data on the wood products industry, gave us figures for 23/32-inch plywood produced in the Pacific Northwest and the South. 

The price in the Northwest for Fir 23/32-inch sheathing for the first week of April was $1,610 per thousand square feet, up 287% from $560 a year earlier.

In the South, the price of that panel was $1,500 per thousand square feet, up 230% from $455 one year ago. 

A few people who left comments on the Facebook post blamed Democrats. But when we asked about the reasons for the increase, experts cited other factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which led mills to shut down or cut production, and the fact that supply can’t keep up with demand.

The factors for the increased prices of plywood are the same as for lumber, Church said. "Mill capacities are at levels unable to meet the current level of demand. These are in part structural issues, as well as temporal, such as employment and staffing issues amid the COVID pandemic."

David Logan, director of tax and trade policy analysis for the National Association of Home Builders, said the price increases "can be traced back to mill closures and a massive reduction of output upon reopening based on the incorrect assumption that the housing market would indefinitely tank," he said. 

More recently, mill closures due to severe weather in Texas and Louisiana, along with resin shortages, "have resulted in even bigger price increases," Logan said. "And that’s for builders that can even get the product; many builders can’t even readily get panels."

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Our Sources

Facebook, post, April 7, 2021

Email, Shawn Church, editor of Random Lengths, April 12, 2021

Email, Liz Thompson, director, media relations, National Association of Home Builders, April 13, 2021

Email, Home Depot spokesperson Christina Cornell, April 13, 2021

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, "Producer Price Index by Commodity: Lumber and Wood Products: Plywood," April 9, 2021

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, "From PPI to CPI," April 12, 2021

Email, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis spokesperson Laura Taylor, April 12, 2021

CNBC, "Thinking of a new wooden deck for spring? It may bust your budget," Feb. 10, 2021

Poynter Institute, "Lumber shortages and prices are soaring amid tariffs, mill closures and a whole lot of DIY projects," Aug. 21, 2020

NPR, "Lumber Prices Are Staying Sky High — Even If The Pandemic Ends Soon," March 30, 2021

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More by Tom Kertscher

Yes, the price of plywood is up in the range of 252%, with market factors to blame