Who knew that the COVID-19 Pandemic would also attempt to be a potential dream kitchen killer? As if we needed more confirmation, the Grim Reaper now has more positive qualities than the coronavirus.

The pandemic has spiked lumber prices by more than 200 percent since the good old pre-coronavirus days of early March 2020. As the virus spread unwelcomingly like wildfire through the United States and Canada last year, lumber mills decreased production and many saw mills went dark. Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions have prevented many of those mills from re-opening to the levels they were running at prior to the virus. Many mills are working with fewer workers on fewer shifts, slicing recovery production even further. 

Meanwhile, the astronomical overnight spike in lumber prices is adding $36,000 to the average cost of a newly built home. The National Association of Home Builders reports the average cost per thousand board feet is now $1,495 and climbing. That’s a 318% increase from April 2020.  

Wood is the new gold. 

“Last year lumber prices started to get really high – at the time half of what it is now – smaller builders and contractors were pulling back on projects,” Keta Kosman, owner and publisher of Madison’s Lumber Report, told Lesprom.com. “But the large homeowners don’t care, they will build, they will raise the price of the house and people will buy at that higher price.”

The question on the mind of every budget-minded American kitchen and bathroom remodeler redesigning the heart of their home this year: How do today’s higher lumber prices affect my remodel? The good news: The drastically higher lumber costs are not necessarily a kitchen remodel stopper.

“The short answer is it depends on the type of remodel you’re doing,” Oregon-based Lamont Bros. Design & Construction notes. “For example, bathroom remodels typically use very little lumber, so higher prices should have a minimal effect on your project. Similarly, kitchen remodels should not be affected very much either. Though, you may see higher costs in certain lumber-heavy items like cabinets.

“You’re going to see the most dramatic cost increases in projects that use a lot of lumber, like additions where you’re building out or expanding your home, or in cases where you’re adding a second story.”

While America’s lumber shortage crisis is having a limited impact on kitchen remodel costs, it is contributing to an average kitchen cabinet spend of between $3,200 and $8,500 this year for a standard size kitchen, per Home Guide. The average cost of kitchen cabinets is ranging between $160 and $380 per linear foot for stock or semi-custom sizes, and up to $1,000 per linear foot for custom cabinetry. 

But kitchen remodelers will take that price over the astronomical price tags for wood and extremely long wait times for other projects. Want to build a deck this summer? Contractors nationwide are telling customers to check back in Summer 2022, for the average wait time for wood-based extensive home remodel projects is 12-14 months.

The sanity-saving news for exasperated homeowners who have already delayed their dream kitchen and bathroom remodels: Today’s wild wood prices shouldn’t reach the kitchen or bathroom. 

A strong way to “help lighten your lumber costs is to prioritize less lumber-heavy remodels such as kitchens and bathrooms,” Lamont Bros. writes. 

Leave a Reply