Plywood is a type of engineered wood that is made from thin sheets of veneer or plies, glued together in a cross-laminated fashion. It is a versatile material that is widely used in construction, furniture making, and other industries.

Despite its popularity, plywood has become increasingly expensive in recent years, causing concern among builders, contractors, and consumers. This blog post aims to explore the reasons behind the high cost of plywood and its impact on the construction industry.


Causes of High Plywood Prices

The labor shortage in the wood panel manufacturing industry

The wood panel manufacturing industry requires a significant amount of manual labor, and the current shortage of workers in the industry has led to a decrease in plywood production. This decrease in production has resulted in a lower supply of plywood to meet the increasing demand, which has driven up the prices.

Shipping container shortage

The shipping container shortage has caused delays in the delivery of goods, including plywood. The shortage of containers has resulted in increased costs for importing goods, which have been passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for plywood.

Housing boom

The housing market is currently experiencing a boom, with a growing demand for new homes and renovations. This increased demand for construction materials, including plywood, has led to increased competition for resources and higher prices.

The high demand for construction materials, including plywood, has resulted in higher prices for this building material.

The high prices of plywood are caused by a combination of factors, including a labor shortage in the wood panel manufacturing industry, a shipping container shortage, and the housing boom. These factors have resulted in lower supply and increased demand for plywood, which has pushed up the prices.

Impact on the Construction Industry

Increased Costs for Builders

The high price of plywood is impacting the construction industry by increasing costs for builders. Builders often use plywood as a primary building material, and the recent surge in price is putting a strain on their budgets.

This means that they have to spend more money to purchase the same amount of materials, which can lead to lower profits or even losses.

Delays in Construction Projects

The shipping container shortage and labor shortage in wood panel manufacturing are also causing delays in construction projects.

Builders may have to wait for long periods to receive the materials they need to complete their projects, which can result in significant delays. These delays can impact their schedules and cause disruptions in their business operations.

Higher Costs for Consumers

The increased costs for builders are also affecting consumers. As builders pass on the increased costs to consumers, they will have to pay more for the same construction services.

This can result in a strain on household budgets, as families may have to spend more money to purchase or renovate their homes. The high price of plywood is also impacting the affordability of housing, making it more difficult for people to own their own homes.

Alternatives to Traditional Plywood

OSB Board

Oriented strand board (OSB) is a type of engineered wood product made by layering flakes of wood and bonding them with resin. It is an alternative to traditional plywood and is often used in construction due to its lower cost.

The advantages of using OSB include its strength and durability, uniformity in size, and resistance to moisture. However, there are also limitations to using OSB, including its tendency to sag under heavy loads and its rough surface, which can be difficult to paint or finish.

Other Wood Products

There are many other types of wood products available for construction, including particle board, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and hardboard.

These alternatives vary in price and quality, so it is important to carefully consider the specific requirements of each project when choosing a suitable alternative to traditional plywood.

For example, particle board is a low-cost option that is not as strong or durable as other products, while MDF is a higher-quality alternative that is more resistant to moisture but also more expensive.

Hardboard is a type of pressed fiberboard that is smooth and dense, making it an excellent choice for cabinetry and furniture.

Comparison of Plywood and Alternative Wood Products

PlywoodVersatile, durable, and strongExpensive and limited availabilityHigh
OSB BoardAffordable and readily availableNot as strong as plywoodLow-Mid
Particle BoardCheap and lightweightNot as durable as plywood and OSBLow
MDF BoardSmooth surface and uniform textureNot as strong as plywood and OSBMid

Note: Cost is a relative term and can vary based on the location and market conditions.


What is the difference between plywood and OSB board?

Plywood is made of thin layers of wood veneer glued together, while OSB (Oriented Strand Board) is made of compressed wood chips and resin.

Why is there a labor shortage in wood panel manufacturing?

There are several factors contributing to the labor shortage in wood panel manufacturing, including declining enrollment in trade schools, an aging workforce, and competition from other industries for skilled workers.

Is there a difference in strength between plywood and OSB board?

Yes, there is a difference in strength between plywood and OSB board. Plywood is typically stronger than OSB, but it is also more expensive.

How does the shipping container shortage impact the price of plywood?

The shipping container shortage results in delays in shipping goods and increased costs for importing, which ultimately affects the price of plywood.

Are there any environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional plywood?

Yes, there are environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional plywood, such as bamboo plywood and composite wood products made from recycled materials.

Can the OSB board be used for all construction projects?

No, the OSB board has limitations and may not be suitable for all construction projects. It is important to consider factors such as cost, strength, and durability when choosing building materials.


High plywood prices are a result of a combination of factors such as labor shortage in the manufacturing industry, shipping container shortage, and the current housing boom.

These factors have significantly impacted the construction industry, leading to increased costs for builders and ultimately higher costs for consumers. As a result, alternatives such as OSB board and other wood products have gained popularity.

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind the limitations of these alternatives and find sustainable solutions for the future. In conclusion, the construction industry needs to adopt innovative and eco-friendly practices to ensure a sustainable future.

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