The Value of Hardwood: Why It’s Worth Every Dollar

In a world where aesthetics are the most important element of a space, people often find themselves drawn to hardwood products despite their price tags.

The process of manufacturing hardwood is labor-intensive, especially if it is done the right way.

Let’s dive into hardwood products and why they are worth every dollar.


Factors that Affect the Price of Hardwood

Hardwood products are more expensive than alternatives for several reasons.


Wood Species

Hardwood species have different characteristics, availability, demand, and quality. For example, if a hardwood species is seen in a celebrity house and is aesthetically pleasing, it can cause a cultural trend, which impacts demand, availability, and price.


Grade and Quality

All industries have regulations and standards that are in place to set the bar for specifications and procedures for materials, products, methods, and services that we rely on every day, which are consistent and reliable. The National Hardwood Lumber Association created hardwood regulations to ensure hardwood lumber is uniform during production.

Each board of hardwood manufactured at Gutchess Lumber is inspected a minimum of four times by trained graders following NHLA grading guidelines, ensuring that we are producing the highest-quality hardwood possible.

Market Demand and Supply

Fluctuations in hardwood demand can influence prices. Shortages or surpluses of hardwood species can also affect market prices and availability. When the need for wood materials and products exceeds the supply, the cost will rise. A delicate balance between supply and demand directly influences hardwood prices.

Demand is heavily influenced by construction activity.

Transportation and Import Costs

Transporting hardwoods to other markets involves various expenses, such as shipping, handling, and import duties. Some hardwood species are only found in specific regions around the world, which will also increase the price of the final product.

Gutchess Lumber has exported its real American hardwood products worldwide for 100 years, and we know every aspect of shipping.

Labor Costs

Skilled laborers are required to manage forests, harvest timber, transport logs, and manufacture, dry, and ship hardwood products. Hardwood is a natural material, so it is more difficult to process. The labor and skills needed to process hardwood and the need for heavy machinery contribute to its high costs.

At Gutchess, our products come from well-managed forests and timberlands in the northeast, several of which we have owned and managed ourselves for generations. We employ a team of over 40 foresters who have a combined experience of 250 years. Costs come with experience, and the team needed to ensure our hardwood is responsible and sustainable. A cost we believe is one hundred percent worth it. We hope you do, too.

Our process starts with the boards being sawn in our modern band mills, dried in our state-of-the-art kilns, and inspected by highly skilled and well-trained lumber inspectors at least four times, green and dry, to ensure accurate grade and tally, consistent quality, and maximum yield. This process requires skilled workers with extensive knowledge of hardwood and sawmills.


Seasonality and Weather Conditions

Weather and environmental conditions can impact tree growth and harvesting, which directly influences the availability and price of hardwood. Unpredictable natural events, such as wildfires, droughts, and pest infestations, can damage forests and result in a scarce supply that increases prices.

FUN FACT: The emerald ash borer (EAB) is slowly causing the Ash hardwood species to die out. This invasive beetle has killed nearly 100% of ash trees infested with EAB. Specialists predict that the EAB will cause the Ash hardwood species to become extinct. The Ash species is commonly used for baseball bats, flooring, furniture, lumber, and pallet manufacture.

A region’s climate directly relates to the health and productivity of its hardwood production. Regions with stable conditions and temperatures, a healthy amount of precipitation, and lots of sunlight are more suitable for tree growth, which is why the Northeastern region of the United States is the ideal region for souring hardwood that goes into making products. When predictable climates occur, the manufacturing process of hardwood can become more efficient.

Since 1904, Gutchess Lumber Co., Inc. has produced the finest quality northern hardwood lumber through our vertically integrated manufacturing facilities across New York and Pennsylvania. Each of our hardwood species is native to the northeast United States. This means we can control the process from harvest to order fulfillment while keeping our operations sustainable by only harvesting within 150 miles of each of our 7 locations.


The Most Common Hardwood

The most common hardwood varies by region, but globally Oak is most common hardwood. The American Hardwood Information Center found that 52% of American Hardwoods are oak, growing mostly in New England to Mississippi. American hardwoods typically grow in the Eastern part of the country due to soil types and nutrients, moisture, earth, and sunlight. American hardwood forests are responsible for providing hardwood for products like cabinets, flooring, millwork, and furniture. Red and White Oak are commonly used for these products and are the most abundant in the United States.

At Gutchess Lumber, we specialize in sourcing Northern Red Oak from forests within a 100-mile radius of our New York and Pennsylvania manufacturing facilities. Unlike southern Red Oak, which commonly has discoloration and other issues, our true Northern Red Oak offers a consistent color profile and grain that rivals White Oak.


How to Find Your Perfect Hardwood

Using hardwood offers beauty, durability, and value.

Research different types of hardwoods and their characteristics. Understand the pros and cons of each type, what they are used for typically, and their sustainability and durability.

Visit Suppliers: Visit local sawmills, woodworking stores, or specialty suppliers to see and feel the hardwood in person. Each hardwood species has its own unique feel and look, so you will get a sense of its appearance and quality.

Consult Experts: Talk to woodworkers, carpenters, architects, or hardwood sales representatives in your area who can offer advice based on their experience and knowledge. They will also know what wood is most affordable in your region and which will work best for the product you want to create or buy.

Testing the Product: If it is available, try to purchase a small sample of the hardwood you are looking at and test for workability, finishing, and appearance for your specific needs.

Evaluate Options: Compare the hardwoods based on your research and tests, budget, and consider all the factors like durability, aesthetics, and sustainability before creating your product.

The type of hardwood will depend on what product you are creating. William Walker, a woodworker, made recommendations on what woods are best based on products and projects.


The Value of Hardwood and Why it’s Worth It

Hardwood is a valuable material that is durable, timeless, adaptable, and sustainable, making it a top choice for products and projects of all kinds. It continues to prove to be a great investment based on its lifespan, maintenance over time, and the ability to refinish and repair it. It comes in a variety of colors and finishes, bringing any project or product to life. If you choose hardwood, you invest in a material that offers value and sustainability, making it worth the cost.

For high-quality hardwood, Gutchess is committed to providing the best of the best hardwood species. Use our interactive map to locate your region’s dedicated sales representative today.

Gutchess Lumber hardwood forest

Active Forest Management: Creating a Greener Future for All

In elementary science class, we learn that forests are the lungs of our planet. They provide clean air, filter our water, and offer vital habitats for countless species. At Gutchess Lumber, we understand the importance of these ecosystems. We are dedicated to responsible forestry practices, like active forest management, that ensure forest health and longevity for future generations.

One of the cornerstones of our approach is active forest management. This powerful tool can nurture healthy and resilient forests. Let’s explore how it benefits our planet’s vital ecosystems.


Active Forest Management

Active forest management involves carefully selecting and harvesting mature trees, sometimes called selective harvesting. Now, you might be wondering, wouldn’t this harm the forest? Quite the opposite. When done with a long-term perspective, it can promote healthy and sustainable growth. Here’s how:

  • Increased Sunlight for Young Trees: Selective harvesting creates openings in the forest canopy, allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor. This sunlight is crucial for younger trees, stimulating their growth and development. A diverse mix of age classes within the forest creates a more resilient ecosystem. If a mature forest’s canopy blocks all the sunlight from reaching the forest floor, no new growth will occur.
  • Reduced Competition for Resources: Mature trees can dominate resources like water and nutrients. By strategically removing some of these trees, we create more space and essential resources for younger trees to thrive. This fosters a healthy competitive environment, allowing a diverse range of species to flourish.
  • Enhanced Forest Resilience: Active forest management can help mitigate threats like disease and wildfires. By removing diseased or weak trees, we can prevent the spread of illness and create natural firebreaks, reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires.


“Offset protocols should incentivize active forest management, which is more effective in capturing and storing atmospheric carbon in forest and wood product carbon pools than a policy of hands-off management that precludes periodic harvests and the use of wood products,” the American Forest Resource Council wrote.


Natural Regeneration

At Gutchess Lumber, we allow Mother Nature to do her thing. When we responsibly harvest hardwood trees, natural regeneration occurs. Following selective harvesting, sunlight reaches the forest floor, triggering a natural phenomenon. Existing tree seedlings that might have been dormant due to limited sunlight receive the necessary energy to flourish. Additionally, seeds from surrounding trees are encouraged to germinate, creating a new generation of growth.

This approach leverages the incredible power of nature, ensuring a diverse mix of trees that fosters a vibrant and healthy forest ecosystem for all its inhabitants.

Planting Trees versus Natural Forest Regeneration

While tree planting initiatives often capture headlines and public enthusiasm, it’s crucial to recognize that planting isn’t always the most beneficial approach for forest restoration. Introducing non-native tree species can disrupt the delicate balance within an ecosystem, out-competing native plants for resources and reducing overall biodiversity. Even planting native trees can have unintended consequences in certain situations. A study measuring the replanting problem’s extent revealed that tree planting is extremely widespread, most notably in incompatible environments. The study’s author suggests that prioritizing natural forest regeneration can be a more effective and sustainable strategy in many cases.


“The best and cheapest answer [to promote forest health] usually just to step back and let nature do the job,” says lead author Matthew Fagan, an assistant professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland.


In contrast to replanting, natural regeneration allows the forest ecosystem to dictate its regrowth. Sunlight reaching the forest floor awakens dormant seedlings and encourages natural seed dispersal from surrounding trees. This fosters a diverse mix of native species, creating a naturally resilient forest structure that benefits all its inhabitants. By prioritizing natural regeneration, we allow Mother Nature to ensure our forests’ long-term health and biodiversity.


Selective Harvesting and Long-Term Carbon Storage

The story doesn’t end with the harvesting of trees. The hardwood products we manufacture offer another significant environmental benefit. These wood products store the carbon dioxide the tree captured throughout its life. This carbon remains locked away for decades within the furniture, flooring, and other beautiful creations crafted from our sustainable building materials.

By utilizing these selectively harvested trees for long-lasting products, we contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.

How does Selective Harvesting Help the Environment?

Selective harvesting focuses on removing mature trees that have reached their peak carbon storage capacity. While these giants have played a vital role in capturing carbon for decades, their ability to absorb additional carbon dioxide slows with age. We strategically remove these mature trees and create space and resources for younger trees to thrive. These younger trees, with their faster growth rates, act as powerful carbon sinks, efficiently capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide and locking it away for years to come. This continuous cycle and the long-term carbon storage achieved through our sustainable wood products make responsible forestry a compelling alternative to building materials with higher embodied carbon footprints.

Gutchess Lumber: Committed to a Greener Future

At Gutchess Lumber, we are deeply committed to responsible forestry practices. We believe this approach is essential for a healthy planet and a sustainable future, so we employ a forest team of over 30 qualified foresters with decades of experience carrying out active forest management programs on company and private land. We continuously strive to refine our methods, ensuring the well-being of our forests and the resources they provide for generations to come. Here are some ways we demonstrate this commitment:

  • Selective Harvesting: We only harvest mature trees, following strict guidelines to maintain a healthy forest ecosystem.
  • Responsible Sourcing: Our forestry operations promote our shared commitment to long-term forest health. They manage company and private land within a 100-mile radius of our manufacturing facilities to ensure active forest management plans are followed and trees are responsibly harvested to allow natural forest regeneration.
  • Education and Advocacy: We actively support research and education initiatives focused on sustainable forestry practices.
  • Minimizing Waste: We use every part of the tree, ensuring nothing goes to waste.


At Gutchess Lumber, we’re committed to utilizing every part of the harvested tree to its fullest potential. This minimizes waste and maximizes the environmental benefits of these valuable resources. The bark, for instance, isn’t discarded – it’s transformed into beneficial mulch that nourishes gardens and landscapes. Even the sawdust generated during the milling process finds a purpose, fueling our on-site boilers and contributing to a more sustainable energy source for our operations. This commitment to whole-tree utilization ensures nothing goes to waste, further solidifying our dedication to responsible forestry and creating a greener future for all.

We invite you to learn more about our dedication to responsible forestry and how you can contribute to a sustainable future by sharing our free Lumber Education resources, including free social media posts and press releases.