UK Timber Market Update by Brooks Bros (UK) Ltd

UK Timber market update

For those in the UK timber market and wishing for an update then read on folks. Regulation, imports, availability and landed stock is here, courtesy of Brooks Bros ltd


Balau – Slow coming out of the Far East

The main issue thus far has been a delay in shipments from the Far East. Container shortages and the uncertainty around delays at UK ports have increased in cost. This means the current freight cost from Semarang to Felixstowe is approx. USD 10,000 higher per container than last year. That coupled with raw material costs that have also risen significantly since contracts were placed in Sept/Oct 2020. This we are sure will lead to re-negotiations. Rumour has it that container demand could ease after the recent Chinese New Year but time will tell. Whilst some suppliers may still be sitting on stock from last year, lucky them. Expect prices to be 10-15% higher when new material starts to filter through.


FSC Balau – Almost non-existent

Since Indonesia obtained their FLEGT licence and effectively giving its route to market in Europe the green light. The demand for FSC material (Balau) has almost ground to a halt.

Indonesia’s national timber legality assurance system (SVLK) insures its timber is sourced from responsibly harvested forests. Therefor the additional cost of FSC has not been deemed a worthwhile investment for many saw mills.  Having a “UK Timber Market Update” has become an important ingredient to the specifier for exterior projects.

Balau premium hardwood decking
Balau premium hardwood decking

FSC Cumaru – Great all rounder

Cumaru has increased in popularity and demand over the last few years. As well as standard decking dimensions, cumaru is available in sections sizes up to 310x310mm. It is being used for ‘landscaping joinery’ projects such as street furniture/planters/pergolas etc. Being FSC 100% certified, cumaru also ticks the right boxes for architects and/or local authority projects.

Direct shipments have been un effected by Brexit but COVID has slowed production. Europe continues to buy big volume with well-established links, so hold good stock levels on the continent.

Expect 21×145 decking to be approx. 20% higher than Balau.

Cumaru FSC premium hardwood timber
Cumaru FSC premium hardwood timber

FSC Ipe – Still the ‘Rolls Royce’ of decking

Supply of Ipe is tightening and prices are increasing. Whilst there is both FSC and non certified material is on offer, there is a considerable difference in cost. FSC certified Ipe can be 30%+ more expensive than non, there is no direct correlation to quality. We’ve felt demand tail off with the increase in popularity of modified timber and composite options possibly also contributing factors.


FSC Kebony – Modified wood, here to stay

Popularity of Kebony and modified timbers in general continues to grow. Despite being relatively unknown in the landscaper’s world, designers are appreciate the benefits of modified wood. The esthetic appeal of Kebony is richer than Ipe and becoming a sustainable alternative. Supply is good and prices are steady. Kebony has been relatively un effected by COVIDwith production continuing throughout 2020. The new treatment plant for Kebonizing the timber is running at full capacity. Brexit hasn’t been an issue, only some very slight delays at UK ports. The UK trades with Norway differently to the EU. It’s not a part of the customs unions and transition has been smooth compared a lot of other products.

Weathered Kebony Clear decking is beautiful
Weathered Kebony Clear decking is beautiful

Treated Softwood – Prices continue to rise

Historically softwood prices have been very stable. Maybe the fluctuation is approx’ £10m3 year on year at best. Along with many facets of life, we have seen unprecedented changes to both the supply chain and the market. Not only in the UK but demand for softwood around the world is high.  We’re told to expect tight supply / shortages to continue this year.


Good luck and happy decking

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