Performance Panels a Bargain Amid Soaring Material Prices

Aug. 12, 2008
While the cost of industrial materials in the U.S. continues to climb, one material – wood – remains a smart investment

While the cost of industrial materials in the U.S. continues to climb, one material – wood – remains a smart investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last four years, prices for plastic resins and materials are up 51 percent, fabricated steel is up 49 percent, aluminum is up 38 percent, and corrugated containers are up 24 percent. Wood products on the other hand have declined six percent.

“Performance Panels continue to be a great value, especially in industrial applications where end users face the dilemma of higher costs and in some cases product scarcity,” said Dennis Hardman, president of APA – The Engineered Wood Association, Tacoma, Washington.
The market for structural wood products benefit from a large domestic production and distribution network.

“Performance Panels are ideally suited for furniture, pallets, signs, containers, reels and mezzanine floors,” said Hardman. Structural plywood, OSB, are excellent values, Hardman said, because of their numerous performance advantages, including strength and stiffness (pound for pound wood is stronger than steel), phytosanitary and formaldehyde exemptions, high impact resistance, workability and proven durability in all kinds of climates.

Another important consideration that deserves greater weight in environmental debates, Hardman said, is the long-term effects of raw material extraction and manufacture.

“If we view the full life-cycle from cradle to grave, wood products have no equal,” said Hardman. North American forest growth continues to exceed timber harvests by a wide margin. Technological advances have increased the industrial output per unit of wood 40 percent in the last 50 years. Hardman also pointed out that wood products are the only renewable, recyclable industrial material and compare favorably with non-wood products based on such environmental criteria as embodied energy and emissions of carbon dioxide.

“Trees are generated by solar energy, create oxygen and consume carbon dioxide as they mature. According to one study wood products make up 47 percent of the industrial raw materials manufactured in the U.S. yet consume only four percent of the energy required to produce those materials. And once wood is converted into products, that carbon is stored. When the product’s useful life is over, nearly all the wood can be recycled,” he added.

Structural engineered wood product formaldehyde emissions are so low that the products are exempt from U.S. HUD and California Air Resources Board (CARB) formaldehyde regulations.

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