Tips For Dealing with Material and Furnishing Shortages

Updated: Feb 4

Tips on how to overcome the frustrations the pandemic shortages has caused.

I'm sure by now you've either read articles or seen news reports that wood prices have gone up between 300-500%, which is going to cause price increases in everything from new construction, furnishings, cabinets, to paper. One of the questions many have is why this happening. During the pandemic, many industries including mills and other industrial manufacturing facilities either shut down completely or cut back on production because they thought there was going to be a huge recession ahead leaving them stuck with tons of product and no buyers. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. While they slowed or stopped production homeowners ramped up purchasing furnishings and DIY projects. This created a high demand for products and now these industries are scrambling to catch up. As we all know once something is in short supply, the prices go up. Thankfully, this shortage will be temporary and some predict may be over by this fall, but how do we overcome paying so much more in the interim? Here's some advice to work around the pandemic caused wood and furniture foam shortages.


Remember all those vintage and antique shops you drive by and wonder who goes in there anymore? Well, it's time to get your comfy shoes on and start getting creative. Antique shops, vintage stores, DIY refurbishers, salvage shops, and even online shops such as Chairish are seeing a huge increases in sales. Another benefit, if your looking for one, is you are essentially recycling so congratulations on doing something good for the planet. Pat yourself on the back. If you have some time and are willing to learn something new to save even more money, there are ways to refurbish furnishings at home. Check out YouTube for tons of videos on how to DIY a worn-out piece of furniture.

Another method is to find stores that already have items you need in stock. While this is quickly becoming a 'first to the front of the line otherwise it's gone' situation, there are plenty of smaller furniture companies that have furniture still on their warehouse shelves. You won't know unless you try!

Do you have a design center near you? It's time to start searching for last-years-seasonal furniture. Where are those expensive custom pieces going after the local market is finished? It's usually a warehouse furniture company. For example, near me is a company called Green Front Furniture. Five buildings filled with furnishings from High Point Market just looking for a home. They also carry accessories and rugs. Who doesn't want expensive designer furniture at a discount?

If you aren't lucky enough to be near a market like High Point or Vegas, or a design mart, your local furniture stores probably have outlets or clearance centers (or a back room) where they are trying to get rid of last season's trends.

Remember garage sales? Now that the apocalypse isn't going to happen (not yet anyway), states are slowly opening back up and people are filling up their lawns to sell the furniture they've had collecting dust in attics, garages, and closets. Check your local paper or Craigslist for people advertising sales. Or just start driving around real early on Saturday mornings. Don't forget to bring coffee!

Important garage sale tips: If you are going out to treasure hunt here are some valuable tips. Wear comfortable shoes. Don't dress like you're Elizabeth Taylor! Take off that makeup, lose the pearls and sequins. Trust me, nobody cares at seven A.M. It's time to get out the mom jeans, a worn-out work shirt, and comfy sneakers! Why? It will help you negotiate a better deal if you don't look like a millionaire. Finally, bring small bills like ones, fives, tens, etc. Don't expect a homeowner to make change for a hundred-dollar bill. It's just a pain for them and then you leave them with no change for the next customer. Don't be afraid to negotiate a price down even a little. The worst that could happen is they say no, but most, will barter with you just to avoid having to carry their stuff back into the house.


This one unfortunately is going to be more tricky. Of course, the easiest way is to just wait out the issue until supply catches up in a few months. This isn't always possible for someone who is about to break ground on a new home. There are other material substitutions that you should discuss with your design team and compare prices. Changing out wood studs for steel or even concrete could be a possibility. Or a combo of the two. Whereas light gauge steel or 'metal' studs used to be a cost increase over wood, you may actually save money considering an alternate material at this time.

SIPS panels may be another possibility. Structural insulated panel systems or 'SIPS' panels don't use wood studs and might be another alternative to wood studs. It also has a higher insulation value so you could save in energy costs down the road and recoup any additional costs incurred by the material shortage. Again, compare pricing and availability with your design team to see if this is a viable solution.

Changing out the sheathing material could save some money. Wood sheathing is commonly used on the exterior walls of homes. As we all know OSB (Oriented strand board) and plywood, which are the most common sheathing materials, are also higher in prices so changing out your sheathing material would save you some money. Many contractors are using a product called Thermo Ply, which is a lightweight, high strength, cellulosic fiberboard that provide durability, and moisture resistance. It comes in three different thicknesses depending on structural use.

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” – Jean de La Bruyère.

The best thing anyone can do right now is to plan ahead and know you are going to need extra time and a lot of patience.

We are all used to instant gratification. Just add to cart and it will be in your home within twenty-four hours. The one thing we can't speed up is the extended lead times. If you are looking for that exact perfect piece you absolutely have to have and it needs to be manufactured somewhere, know that your lead times are going to be three to four months (or more) instead of four to six weeks. Nobody can plan for a ship full of freight containers to get stuck in the Suez Canal so please be patient.

Do not wait until November to order furniture for Christmas. Know that your designers cannot make things go faster by complaining or paying for expedited shipping. If it's made of wood or has foam in it, it's likely going to be delayed. Please be patient and know that your design team is doing the best they can and they too, are as frustrated as you are about this situation.

Desperate times call for creativity, compromise, sacrifice, and a great deal of patience. We will get through yet another pandemic caused frustration. The light at the end of the tunnel is coming. Remember it's a marathon. Not a sprint.

If you're looking for help Design Works Studio is here to make your project easier. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Just go to our contact page or take a look at our services to see how we can help you.

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