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This study examines the US market for wood panels (building boards). This includes structural boards (oriented strand board (OSB) and softwood plywood) and nonstructural boards:
medium density fiberboard (MDF)
low density fiberboard (softboard)
Scope and Summary
Markets for these products encompass construction and industrial uses. Construction uses include:
roofing (e.g., sheathing, decking, framing, trim)
flooring (subflooring and finish flooring)
cabinets (e.g., cabinet boxes, drawers, drawer fronts, doors)
doors (and, though a negligible portion of the market, windows – primarily hurricane-proof storm types)
other construction applications, including moulding and trim, stairways, concrete formwork, temporary shelters, decks, and porches
Industrial applications include:
furniture and fixtures (e.g., ready-assemble household furniture, office furniture, wood partitions, shelving)
engineered wood products, including the manufacture of plywood, I-joists, and rim boards
material handling products (e.g., pallets, crating, packaging products, bins, tanks)
transportation equipment (e.g., recreational vehicles, boats, trucks, trailers, buses, rail cars)
other manufactured goods, including signs, appliance cabinets, trophies and plaques, crafts, sports and exercise equipment, musical instruments, and toys and games
In addition to providing wood panel demand by product type and market, the study also discusses demand by US region.
Historical data for 2009, 2014, and 2019 and forecasts to the years 2024 and 2029 are provided for wood panel production and demand in square feet and current dollars. 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 insulation board and low density fiberboard
3/4 inch for particleboard, hardwood plywood, and MDF
Data for each board type are provided in terms of that product’s standard thickness. In order to improve the comparability of wood panel demand in volume terms across different board types, data are converted to a 3/8-inch basis. These measures are used in the market and regional sections, as well as for product aggregations in the product sections. Unless another thickness is specified, square feet measurements in the study are on a 3/8-inch basis.
Wood panels used as a component of other wood panel products, such as particleboard used to make plywood, are counted separately and considered to be engineered wood for the purposes of this study. Although this results in some double counting of wood panel demand, this treatment is in line with that used within the industry.
Data from the US Census Department were consulted in the preparation of this study and a list of related codes is presented here for informational purposes. However, these codes may not include all products covered in this report or may exclude some products of interest and the data have thus been adjusted accordingly.
Demand for wood panels is forecast to increase nearly 1.0% annually through 2024 to 50.2 million square feet, as measured on a 3/8-inch basis. Wood panel demand is expected to drop significantly in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is forecast to cause:
a sizable 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
a fall in the production of wood furniture, engineered wood products, and other manufacturing goods
Demand will return to growth beginning in 2021 and continue to expand through 2024, driven by growth in new single-family home construction and rising spending on home renovation projects. However, losses in 2020 will not be recovered, lowering the average rate of expansion over the forecast period.
Construction Market to Drive Demand Gains
The large construction market is expected to account for two-thirds of wood panel demand gains through 2024. Wood panels will find increased use in such applications as finish flooring, subflooring, and wall sheathing. For finish flooring, rising consumer preferences for hard surface flooring over alternatives such as carpet will support wood panel demand. Demand for wood panels used as subflooring will be supported by their ease of installation and compatibility in a variety of building types. The durability and consistency of wood panels will support demand as wall sheathing.
Oriented Strand Board to Gain Share in Siding, Engineered Wood, & Flooring
Oriented strand board (OSB) accounted for the largest share of wood panel demand in 2019 and is expected to continue making inroads through 2024. Use of OB in roofing – the material’s largest application – will rise as it is gains share from softwood plywood because of its greater durability and lower price.
OSB is also expected to record strong growth in smaller applications such as engineered wood, siding, and finish flooring. In engineered wood, OSB will see greater use because of its versatility and durability. OSB demand gains in siding will be supported by its cost and growing consumer acceptance of newer OSB siding products. In finish flooring, OSB will gain share because it provides a aesthetic favorable in hard surface flooring trends while being less expensive than competing materials like hardwood plywood.
Demand in Industrial Applications Expected to Grow Despite Industry Weakness
Demand for wood panels in industrial applications is expected to increase through 2024 – despite stagnating shipments of finished goods – as product improvements allow engineered wood to better compete in a variety of applications. Increased use of wood panels in such applications as materials handling and engineered wood will offset losses in the large furniture manufacturing market, where weakness in the shipment of finished goods will cause wood panel demand to drop.