Bunnings is the largest hardware chain in Australia. When Australians think of timber they think of Bunnings. Bunnings sets the baseline when it comes to timber prices.
Bunnings two main timbers are Tasmanian Oak and Radiata pine. If you want timber other than these species you need to go to a specialist timber retailer. But Bunnings don’t show their prices on a per cubic metre basis, so I’ve done the homework.
Firstly the price list for kiln-dried, dressed, Select Grade Tas Oak as at June 2016:
Tasmanian oak is a native forest hardwood tree, so the costs of growing Tas oak are considerable in terms of management, regulation, roading, harvesting and transport. Most Tas Oak comes from public native forests managed by Forestry Tasmania. Forestry Tasmania is NOT run as a fully commercial profit-driven business, and has received considerable taxpayer subsidies over many years.
So these prices do not reflect the actual cost of growing the timber.
Prices range between $5,500 and $8,500 per cubic metre, with something of a trend of increasing prices for larger dimension timber to (perhaps) reflect the increased cost (to the taxpayer) of growing bigger, older trees.
Next is the price list for Radiata pine.
Radiata pine is a highly domesticated plantation-grown tree species, where scale, volume and efficiency dominate the market. It is grown primarily for the construction and pulp markets. The pine market is extremely competitive so these prices should accurately reflect the dynamic between supply and demand and the cost of production.
The other point to be made here is that Radiata pine must represent the absolute cheapest that solid wood of any kind can be commercially grown. It’s the bargain basement of solid wood prices.
The price list is for Standard grade pine, with Premium clearwood prices shown in yellow.
Growing Premium grade, knot-free pine requires thinning and pruning the plantations at significant cost compared to growing Standard grade, hence the higher price for Premium grade pine.
Does the 100% markup per cubic metre for the Premium pine make it more profitable for the grower? I hope so!
Prices for the Standard Grade pine range between $1,100 and $3,500, whilst Premium grade ranges between $2,400 and $3,500 per cubic metre for a limited range of sizes.
And here we have a retailer selling blackwood for the same price as radiata pine:
It’s completely insane!
According to Bunnings Select grade Tasmanian oak is 2.5 to 5.2 times more valuable than Standard grade radiata pine (when comparing the same sizes), and 1.7 to 2.6 times more valuable than Premium pine.
Given that Tas Oak is much slower growing than pine and is a native forest species (ie. higher cost of production, lower productivity), one would think that a 2x times price premium can in no way reflect the relative costs of production!
No wonder then that our native forest industry is in such trouble with give-away prices like these.
Also given that Tasmanian oak is not generally regarded as a premium appearance grade timber and is relatively abundant, what would be the relative price of select grade blackwood, which is regarded as a premium timber and is relative scarce? Would it be 3.0 times the price of Premium grade pine, ie. $7,500 per cubic metre? Or 2.0 times the price of Select grade Tasmanian oak, ie. $12,000 per cubic metre?
Surely Tasmanian blackwood timber should be priced well above Tasmanian oak!!
For my previous reviews of timber (including blackwood) price lists see here: