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This study examines the US market for wood panels (building boards) used in flooring applications. This includes structural boards (oriented strand board (OSB) and softwood plywood) and nonstructural boards:
others (medium density fiberboard (MDF), hardboard, insulation board, and low density fiberboard (softboard))
Flooring applications include subflooring and finish flooring for the new and improvement and repair sectors of residential and commercial buildings.
Historical data for 2009, 2014, and 2019 and forecasts to the years 2024 and 2029 are provided for flooring wood panels demand in square feet. Data in square feet are actually volumetric measurements, since the various types of wood panels are each associated with a standard thickness. These standard thicknesses (as most commonly accepted within the industry) are:
1/8 inch - hardboard
3/8 inch for OSB and softwood plywood
1/2 inch for low-density fiberboard
3/4 inch for particleboard, hardwood plywood, and MDF
Demand for wood panels used in flooring applications is forecast to increase 1.1% annually through 2024 to 9.3 million square feet, as measured on a 3/8 inch basis. Demand for wood panels used in flooring is expected to drop significantly in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will cause:
a decline in new home construction
a heavy drop in commercial construction spending as many businesses are forced to shut down or operate at reduced capacities
However, demand will rebound in 2021and continue to expand through 2024, driven by:
a rebound in new single-family home construction
rising spending on home renovation projects
rising consumer preferences for engineered wood flooring over competing products like carpet and natural wood
Wood Panel Subflooring Demand to Drive Growth
Subflooring accounted for 85% of wood panels used in flooring applications in 2019 and will provide the majority of demand growth through 2024. New residential construction accounts for the vast majority of subflooring wood panel demand. However, an expected increase in residential renovation will drive demand gains through 2024 as consumers replace flooring or undergo more extensive projects like additions of rooms.
Shifts in flooring preferences will also support gains, as the increasing popularity of high-quality, hard surface flooring products will lead to greater use of multilayer flooring – and therefore to demand for the wood panels used as substrates in some of these products.
Demand for Engineered Wood Flooring Demand to Boost Finish Flooring Market
Finish flooring is expected to be among the fastest growing applications for wood panel products through 2024, despite the declining popularity laminates, due largely to quick gains in demand for engineered wood floors. Hardwood plywood, OSB, and other wood panels (including hardboard and particleboard) are all used in the production of engineered wood flooring and as substrates for laminate flooring products.
Consumers increasingly prefer hard surface flooring throughout their home, and engineered wood floors offer a favorable wood aesthetic at a lesser cost than natural wood. Additionally, engineered wood floors perform better because they are made of many pressed layers, which reduces expansion with moisture.
Though engineered wood floors in particular face strong competition from luxury vinyl tile (LVT) because of the product’s low cost, durability, and ability to be installed by DIYers, the product does not as convincingly mimic the aesthetic of natural wood, which provides engineered wood products with an advantage.