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:
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.

What is Carbon Sequestration + How it Works

Think of the Earth like your house on a holiday, filled with so many guests, you are running out of room for everyone to sit. Imagine there is one person turning up the heat even though your house is already extra warm from all of your guests. We will call that one person, Carbon Dioxide. Just like too much heat in your home can make all of your guests uncomfortable, excess Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere results in the planet warming up.

Now think of automatic air-conditioning in your home, it kicks on every time your house gets too hot. A process called Carbon Sequestration does this for the Earth. Every time there is excess Carbon Dioxide in the air, warming the planet, Carbon Sequestration helps remove the excess Carbon Dioxide from the air, managing Earth‚Äôs ‚Äúthermostat‚ÄĚ. Ensuring that the ‚Äúhouse‚Äôs‚ÄĚ temperature is comfortable enough for everyone.

We understand how Carbon Sequestration plays a pivotal role in regulating Earth‚Äôs ‚Äúthermostat‚ÄĚ. Let‚Äôs talk about what contributes to Carbon Sequestration, how this process works and the various methods used to improve Earth‚Äôs temperature naturally.

 

The 3 C’s: Climate Change, Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Sequestration

Some key terms you need to know in order to understand Carbon Sequestration are:

Climate Change: occurs when greenhouse gas emissions wrap around the Earth and trap in the sun’s heat, causing the temperature to rise.

Carbon Dioxide: is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration. It is naturally present in air and is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis. This process is called, the carbon cycle:

 

Did you know, carbon dioxide is the most commonly produce greenhouse gas? Carbon Dioxide forms from daily practices like cooling, heating and lighting. Organizations like EPA monitor how the United States contributed to greenhouse gas emission, specifically our carbon dioxide emissions. In 2022, carbon dioxide emissions totaled 79.7% of total emissions in the United States:

Given Carbon Dioxide results for more than 75% of the total United States greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration is a promising solution to act as Earth’s natural mechanism to remove excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climate Change, Carbon Dioxide and carbon sequestration form a interconnected system, if one changes they all change. Understanding how they connect is crucial for carbon sequestration to work effectively to build a sustainable future.

 

The Process of Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. The purpose behind this process is to stabilize carbon in solid and dissolved forms, so the Earth‚Äôs temperate doesn’t get too hot. There are 3 critical processes that take place in each type of Carbon Sequestration:

  1. Capture: The CO2 needs to be captured for storage and is separated from other gases.
  2. Transport: The CO2 is then compressed and transported using pipelines, road transport or ships to a site for storage.
  3. Storage: Finally, the CO2 is injected into rock formations deep underground for permanent storage.

 

The Types of Carbon Sequestration

Scientists are using different four main types of Carbon Sequestration to solve the ongoing climate change issues. Each type has its own distinct characteristics and process.

Biological Carbon Sequestration

Carbon dioxide is found in vegetation in places like oceans, soil, forests and grasslands. Forests specifically, hold 25 percent of global carbon emissions in plant-rich landscapes such as forests, grasslands and rangelands. Trees in forest act as paper towels for atmospheric carbon. If you spill water on the counter and use a paper towel, it absorbs all the water it can until you have to use another one. Trees do the same, but with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees use the carbon sequestration process to capture carbon dioxide and hold carbon as an effective method of reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 pictured here:

Geological Carbon Sequestration

Another way carbon dioxide is captured and stored is through, Geological Carbon Sequestration, in underground rock formations. For example, sandstone and limestone are injected with carbon when industrial plants like steel mills and power plants emit carbon dioxide. Other ways carbon dioxide is injected is through depleted oil and gas reservoirs to improve the recovery of remaining oil and gas. Large volumes of carbon dioxide can be stored using this method. In recent news, Ricardo Pereira, discovered a potential off shore extinct volcano in Portugal that could store gigatons of carbon dioxide.

If this study is successful, this discovery would help store the equivalent of ~24-125 years of the country’s industrial emissions.

Exxon Mobil is a global leader of carbon capture and storage using a geological method. They capture carbon dioxide¬†and inject it into geologic formations deep underground for safe, secure and permanent storage. Their goal was to reduce emissions from sectors like refining, chemicals, cement, steel and power generation. They have now more than 1,500 miles of CO2¬†pipeline owned and operated ‚Äď largest network in the U.S. and have the potential to reduce CO2¬†emissions by > 100 million metric tons a year.

Technological Carbon Sequestration

This is a relatively newer process which involves using technology to capture and store CO2 or make it into a resource.

Graphene production: Graphene is a material that is extracted from graphite and is made up of pure carbon, an example is the lead of a pencil. Carbon dioxide is used as a raw material to produce graphene, a technological material. You can find Graphene in everyday items like your smart phones and other tech devices.

Direct Air Capture (DAC): is when carbon is captured directly from the air. This process is energy intensive and expensive. This technique can be effective, but is still too costly to implement on a mass scale. There are 3 basic steps to DAC that produce 2 outputs: concentrated CO2 and filtered air:

Engineered molecules: Molecules are engineered to create new kinds of compounds capable of singling out and capturing carbon dioxide from the air. The engineered molecules act as a filter solely for carbon dioxide.

 

Industrial Carbon Sequestration

This method involves capturing carbon dioxide released from industrial processes through pre-combustion, post-combustion, and oxyfuel. This is the least common type of sarbon sequestration.

Pre-combustion capture: During pre-combustion carbon capture before fuel combustion. Benefits of pre-combustion, include high efficiency and relatively easier carbon removal from fossil fuels.

 

Post-combustion capture: during, post-combustion carbon capture, CO is captured snf removed before they exit smoke stacks from flue gasses after combustion. This process is common for retrofitting existing power plants and has been proven to recover CO2 at a rate up to 800 tonnes/day.

 

Oxyfuel combustion: Oxygen is used to burn fuel, resulting in a flue gas primarily composed of CO.

 

How Carbon is Stored in Hardwood

Hardwood trees sequester carbon through photosynthesis by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into glucose and oxygen. Hardwoods like oak and maple store substantial amounts of carbon during their lifespand. This is due to their density and longevity. When these trees are produced into hardwood products like furniture, flooring and cabinets they continue to store carbon. Carbon is also transferred through leaf litter and root decomposition. This process contributes to the biological carbon sequestration mentioned above.

 

The Benefits of Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration is an effective solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, by removing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This process stabilizes the Earth’s temperature and directly impacts the climate change and the natural events associated with it like wildfires hurricanes, rising sea levels and disrupted ecosystems. Renewable and energy efficient ways of living have been developed by scientists leveraging different processes and types of carbon sequestration.

Importance of Carbon Sequestration in Forestry

Over the last 40 years, forests have absorbed 25% of human carbon emissions, slowing the rate of climate change. The longer trees live for, the more carbon dioxide they hold.

 

The 5 main benefits carbon sequestration in forestry are:

Time: The longer a forest is alive, the more carbon it will hold.

Purification: Water and air. One tree can take in 10 pounds of pollution and produce enough oxygen for 2 people.

Flood Control: Reducing erosion and runoff

Resources: Trees protect resources that humans rely on heavily like food, medicine and landscaping materials.

Dry Land: If there are not enough trees this can result in to much sun exposure and lead to dry soil, more carbon and dead organisms.

Restoring forests with high carbon density, planting diverse tree species to maximize biodiversity, dividing land zones and leveraging a forest’s carbon cycle are a few ways we can maximize the carbon sequestration benefits for forests.

 

Gutchess Lumber’s Sustainable Forestry and Carbon Sequestration

In 2024, our goal is to create a greener and more sustainable future by practicing responsible forestry management. This practice enables natural forest regeneration and creates climate change-resilient forests, which are known to be more resilient.

Our commitment to minimizing carbon dioxide begins in our forests and supports the flow of carbon that is sequestered in the timber to the hardwood lumber products we produce. Hardwood products can store carbon for decades, centuries, or indefinitely in some cases. By using hardwood products, you can help to mitigate climate change.

You are supporting environmental sustainability when you buy Gutchess hardwood. We also offer Forest Management Consulting, to assist other forest landowners in maximizing their long term returns through professional forest management. We will create a greener future for our customers, for our families, and for our planet.