B A C K

ADDRESSING THE DEMAND FOR COLOR

The treated wood industry in North America is seeing increased consumer demand for color, leading many treated lumber suppliers to explore the option of staining their pressure treated products.

While the pressure treating as well as wood staining processes have existed for a while, putting the two together is a relatively new dimension for the industry that has created a market with substantial size and momentum in the U.S., particularly west of the Rockies.

Stained pressure treated wood wouldn’t be the first home décor market trend to take root on the west coast, before sweeping eastward. The national perspective of large retail home improvement brands has helped to accelerate the nationwide adaption of much of the innovation taking hold in this market. Increased consumer demand for color drives distributor and retailer interest that eventually draws pressure treated lumber suppliers into the market, offering stained pressure treated products to their clients. And, as in most market situations, the first with the best gets the most reward.

The technology itself is old, but in-plant high-speed stain lines for pressure treated lumber have only been around for 25 years,” Mark Cheirrett, President of Eco Chemical, says, although people have been staining their wood decks by hand for about a century.

Homeowners are increasingly choosing pre-stained treated lumber. Producers who have invested in their ability to produce stained products have been profitably expanding into stained fencings, rails, and decking products. Staining has become an essential value-added dimension of their business.

We credit the rise in commercial popularity of pre-stained products to both aesthetic and practical advantages. Think about it in terms of painting the walls in your home — the final appearance is enhanced and the painted surface is protected — since stain improves the look of the treated wood while also offering additional surface protection and enhancing the wood’s resistance to natural degradation.

Cheirrett also explains that color is becoming a ‘Brand’ identifier. “Most retailers as customers have their own colors, so when you look out in the manufacturer’s yard, you can see who’s buying what and where it’s going,” he says. “But the difference in colors can be very subtle in some cases, but it’s not the same color. “

While there is typically an additional cost associated with staining pressure treated wood, the incorporation of a water-based staining step in the production process can usually be accomplished with minimum disruption and cost that is easily justified by the value added to the finished product. The difference in price for the consumer is insignificant when compared to cost of purchasing unstained wood and doing the staining themselves. Unstained wood will turn gray within a month, whereas properly stained wood will retain its stained color and won’t require maintenance for several years.

An early concern that deterred distributors and retailers from offering color products was how the color would hold up in an outdoor environment. Initial coloring was done with dyes instead of high quality stains, resulting in early fading due to UV and general weather exposure. Fading is no longer an issue however, when using wood stains incorporating high quality iron oxide pigments. These pigments, which will not discolor even when exposed to UV radiation over time, have a history of proven longevity – they can be found in the Sistine Chapel and in hieroglyphics.

Stained treated lumber has realized broad acceptance and growing market preference over unstained alternatives, particularly in the western states and provinces, but the majority of markets in North America still lack a primary champion and producer. Eastern retailers have been showing increased interest in this market opportunity, with big box stores, such as Home Depot and Lowes, leading the way.

The benefits of including a staining step in manufacturing pressure treated lumber products hold substantial value for manufacturers, dealers, and their customers. As is evidenced by the growth in demand for pre-stained lumber in the western states, the beauty and added protection of stain appear to provide solid ground for the continued growth of demand for these products across the country.

Contact us today to learn more about what adding color to your product line can do for your bottom line.