Decking materials, where are they?

The UK decking market 2021 – Where have all the decking materials gone?


Where have all the decking materials gone? Materials at source, that’s from Scandinavia, the USA, Canada, Russia, China, Asia, Indonesia are still being produced and trees are still growing in well-managed forests. The trees are being felled and sent to their local Mills.

Local mills are running at a reduced capacity due to reduced personnel…

The transport from the mill to the ports is reduced due to reduced personnel…

The shipping costs have increased, an example being a major timber supplier in the UK who ordered some mid-range decking from Indonesia last October 2020. This container landed this week (June 2021), it left the port 16 weeks ago.

The cost of shipping for this 18 months prior was £1500, the company paid £12,000

Considering that this massive price is added to the load, in this case, was 1250 sq m of decking the increase per sq m was £8.40 which represents a material increase of 18% then add on the margin for the merchant and they are having to increase by 25%

Unfortunately for this whole imbalance, the demand doesn’t care… if your company doesn’t buy it, the next company will…

Natural paving and porcelain

It’s pretty much the same story, a massive demand, a lack of personnel, a lack of containers and a bidding sale to the highest price.

Due to the uncertainty, some of the UK’s largest importers of natural stone from India has been suspended. This due to the product being at the most cost-effective end of the market being ordered with no certainty of a landing date in the UK. Add this to the massive increase in container costs and the overall contractor price having a future of being x4 or even x5 the norm. People will refuse to pay this price and so the orders have been either suspended or cancelled.

Why the demand

Due to covid forcing many to work from home, demand has increased 10 fold in homeowners wanting to maximise their gardens as workspaces. Whether they want to employ the services from a professional or complete the project DIY hasn’t affected the desire for the new works

Consider this across the UK, EU and the rest of the world… and all at the same time. The demand for materials has gone into the stratosphere with no sign in the near future for a let-up.

Speaking to Country Supplies, Arbour Forest products and Brooks Bros, they are all returning the same story. They are all making their respective purchasing and just as soon as they receive the materials they are ALL SOLD… “Tom ford (Brooks Bros Timber) and Michael Bryant (Country Supplies) and Jonathan Cooper (Arbour Forest) have all uttered the same in that it may return to some kind of normality in about 12 – 18 months. This being after the world travel restrictions have been relaxed, the workforce is urged to return to work and worldwide logistics return to basic normality.

Composite Decking Price increases 2021

Millboard kicks this off with 9% – depending on which merchant you purchase from… that’s a stonker for a UK manufactured product? Trex imported from the USA has a very standard 6%… and a similar story for the other headline decking brands.

I have no idea about the normal multi-branded cheap stuff from China; maybe these guys will be scared away with the price of importing, containers and the reduction in manufacturing.

The future

The future for the exterior markets, Pro Deck builders, Landscapers and General contractors will find their feet. Stability is key and contractors that focus on certain brands will lead the way. They have increased support to their recommended installers for their own “Pro” schemes… Why would they prefer to help contractors that help them…

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