Tropical hardwood demand remains firm

Smith-Made designs and produces a myriad of flooring, furniture, and decorative surfaces and use a variety of wood species including this flat-sawn African Mahogany board. 

Photo By Smith-Made

North American new orders for tropical hardwoods have experienced a modest slowdown, but the demand for the hardwoods remain robust especially in high-end projects and exterior applications, according to Fastsmarkets’ Hardwood Market Report.

The cross-commodity price reporting agency says that sales for many importers have remained steady in October compared to September, while other sellers has seen a modest decline. Most, the Fastmarkets report said, “are still experiencing decent outbound shipments due to solid order bookings in late summer.”

The Oct. 31 report said that tropical hardwoods are prevalent in high-end projects because they are relatively expensive. “At present, importers are experiencing good demand from producers of high-end residential moulding and also from commercial millwork manufacturers. Sales to large and mid-sized residential flooring and stair plants are slow, but business is holding up well with custom flooring and stair makers,” the report said.


The report also found that in residential markets, demand for tropical hardwoods for use in exterior applications remains noticeably stronger than for interior applications. Sales to outdoor furniture producers remained steady, but sales of domestic hardwoods to case goods and upholstered furniture manufacturers are weak.

The overall supply of tropical hardwood lumber at US and Canadian import yards is comparable to overall demand. However, that is not the case across all species, thicknesses, and product specifications. For example, 4/4 Sapele is readily available, but many of the thicker sizes are scarce. Likewise, some contacts indicate flatsawn African Mahogany is difficult to source, while quartersawn material is not.

For more information on the tropical hardwoods market, visit Fastmarkets Hardwood Market Report.



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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).