Performance Panels a Bargain Amid Soaring Material Prices

TACOMA, Wash.--While the cost of industrial materials in the U.S. continues to climb, one material--wood-remains a smart investment for the savvy professional. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last four years, prices for plastic resins and materials are up 51%, fabricated steel is up 49%, aluminum is up 38%, and corrugated containers are up 24%. 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% 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% 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.

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