Business Operations

Southern Pine Industry Promotes Building to a Higher Standard

Robust homebuilding and remodeling activity continues, supporting high levels of lumber shipments at mills across the Southeast.

As 2018 kicks off, another promising year lies ahead for southern pine lumber manufacturers. Robust homebuilding and remodeling activity continues, supporting high levels of lumber shipments at mills across the Southeast. Producers are well-equipped to deliver high-quality products, serving both domestic and international markets.

That’s good news for lumber distributors and dealers. Like the producers, the Southern Forest Products Association is well equipped to help dealers boost their southern pine sales with services the organization has provided since its formation more than a hundred years ago.

SFPA represents southern pine producers large and small, and knows what it takes to make a sale. Today’s customers are more product savvy than ever, and maintaining their preference for durable, versatile southern pine materials calls for promotional plans and a collection of resources dealers can easily access to sell more lumber.

The recent catastrophic flooding in Houston, along the Gulf Coast, and throughout Florida has renewed calls for building homes to a higher standard. The southern pine industry stands ready to help builders and homeowners with the information they need to build raised wood floor foundations. Satisfying the higher expectations of today’s homebuyer presents new challenges. Meeting these challenges begins with a raised wood floor foundation that reduces flood risk, enhances curb appeal and provides many other benefits.

An all-new 2017 edition of SFPA’s booklet Raised Wood Floor Foundations – Design & Construction Guide is now available as a PDF download from the Publications page of SouthernPine.com. This 16-page publication is aimed at homebuilders, architects, engineers, and specifiers. It explains how to build to a higher standard, outlining the many advantages offered by building a wood floor system above grade, including long-term durability and trouble-free performance.

An introductory section covers site conditions, soil properties, design considerations, and connections. Properly designed and constructed, a raised wood floor foundation accommodates all design loads and transfers those loads to the soil without excessive settlement.

Eight 3-D illustrations detail the assembly of foundation types, both pier-and-beam and continuous stemwall on various types of footings. Information about insulated closed crawlspaces is included.

New Web Portal for Builders

Later this month, SFPA launches the remodeled website RaisedFloorLiving.com. This new site creates an information hub for both homebuilders and homebuyers about all of the advantages and specifications to build off grade. The new portal for building professionals strikes a perfect balance between clear and logical navigation and extensive details to satisfy the needs of its users. Raised Floor Living’s expertise in the industry will be demonstrated through dynamic charts, tables, diagrams and attractive imagery that will serve lumber dealers as helpful resources. Searchability will also be incorporated into the site for easy access to information.

Do customers come to your counter asking questions about building their new home using a raised wood floor foundation? SFPA has many of the answers. The homeowner side of RaisedFloorLiving.com explains the features and benefits of building raised, all in simple terms. Check out the Getting Started page for a list of questions any property owner might ask an architect or builder before beginning construction of a custom home. 

Disasters Spark Interest

On Friday Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi, Tx., and then continued to batter cities and towns along the Gulf Coast. On Aug. 30, a rain gauge near Cedar Bayou, Tx., measured 51.88 inches of rainfall, breaking the record for the continental United States set in 1978. Hurricane Harvey produced a rain total of greater than 40 inches that led to the largest flood event in Houston-Galveston history.

These rain totals have renewed a push to educate and promote the benefits of building a raised wood floor foundation. The durability and versatility of SP lumber provides the solution to homebuilding in these flood-ravaged areas. By design, a raised wood floor home elevates the living space off the ground, isolating it from moisture and pests. Elevating a structure reduces flood insurance premiums and can enhance the home’s energy efficiency.

SFPA recently renewed efforts with homebuilder associations in cities along the Gulf of Mexico. With the goal of reaching thousands of builders in affected markets, SFPA aims to educate building professionals and their suppliers, and promote the use of southern pine as a versatile resource that can be used in all aspects of building a new home.

SFPA has experience reaching building professionals. Beginning in 2010, the association led a multi-year campaign promoting the raised wood floor foundation system. Working with allied organizations, design competitions, demonstration homes, seminars at construction sites, and training sessions at trade shows were tactics employed to reach target audiences.

Easy-to-Find SP Products

Search the Product Locator of SouthernPine.com and select from some 400 lumber products. Do you need to adjust your product mix to suit demand in your growing market? Do you have a product need to complete your inventory? SFPA’s online Product Locator can steer dealers and distributors to manufacturers in their state. Sizes and lengths, grades, even packaging preferences are here.

Need a quantity of southern pine materials ASAP? The Lumber Purchase Inquiry space right on the homepage of SouthernPine.com is your one-stop spot for getting quotes from interested mills. Also on the homepage is a board footage calculator, a handy tool for dealers wanting to quickly total up orders or the yard’s inventory.

Excellent Spans with SP

When it comes to long spans, quality southern pine lumber has a proven reputation. Design values for the species are comparable to other softwoods used in residential and commercial construction. Your customers can choose from a variety of visual grades and a rising supply of mechanical grades providing a wide range of dependable strength and stiffness properties to meet the needs of any project.

SFPA continues to distribute its popular pocket span cards for both untreated and treated lumber. Since they became available four years ago, nearly 7,000 cards have been distributed to code officials, builders and lumber dealers. One card contains 12 span tables for common visual and mechanical grades under different loading conditions. Another card has a trio of tables for treated southern pine lumber used for floor joists, ideal for the professional deck builder’s tool box. Dealers can order a supply of the cards from the Publications page of SouthernPine.com.

Treated Southern Pine Performs

Consumers and builders enjoy the look and feel of real wood. Pressure treated southern pine is the most popular choice for decking because of its inherent strength and ease of treatability, value, along with its visual appeal.

Decks extend the living space of the home and offer many different design choices from simple, compact structures to elaborate multi-level decks with built-in planters, benches, and railings. And, the latest formulations of preservatives are environmentally friendly and safe to use around people, plants, and pets.

Why use pressure treated southern pine? Treated SP remains the most cost-effective and durable solution for outdoor building projects. Preservatives help ensure wood used in a wide range of service conditions. Pressure treated southern pine wood products are an economical, sustainable and renewable building material—important selling points for your customers.

Dealers can depend on publications from SFPA to educate their salespeople. The 24-page Pressure-Treated Southern Pine explains the standards, provides simplified specification guidelines and includes tips on suitable fasteners and finishes. SFPA’s booklet Southern Pine Deck & Porches provides deck design details, construction, and maintenance tips. Keep a copy of each booklet at the counter by downloading a PDF at SouthernPine.com.

As Houston and other flood-impacted areas rebuild, there’s a substantial sales opportunity for value-added uses of treated southern pine. Builders and remodelers can add the fungal decay and termite resistance provided by pressure treated lumber when used in framing high-moisture areas, such as kitchens and baths.

SP for Indoors, Too

Look up! A southern pine ceiling is an often-overlooked design feature that adds flair and distinction to family rooms, kitchens, and porches. Southern pine V-groove pattern material, along with the popular double-beaded ceiling pattern, add value and beauty to any project. Typically sold in clear, knot-free C&Btr. grade, these patterns are available in a variety of widths and thicknesses. Dealers can assemble a sample panel of each pattern on an endcap and spark discussions with customers about the possibilities.

Southern pine brings warmth and natural beauty to any interior project from floors to walls and ceilings. Interior wood surfaces are incredibly versatile and can be customized to a home’s unique design.

Once installed, the possibilities for adding dramatic color to a room are endless. One of the inherent advantages to specifying southern pine patterns is its superior ability to accept a wide variety of finishes. Many homeowners prefer to accent the distinctive grain of southern pine by simply applying a clear polyurethane finish to all exposed surfaces. These clear finishes are generally available in matte/satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss to suit individual preferences. Southern pine readily accepts solid or semi-transparent stains, too. For painting, a coat of primer plus two coats of good-quality latex paint is recommended.

SFPA offers product details in its booklets Southern Pine Patterns and Southern Pine Flooring. Both can be downloaded from the Publications page of SouthernPine.com.

International Efforts

The southern pine lumber industry continues to expand global markets for southern pine lumber, and its latest efforts are clearly paying off. Exports of southern pine lumber have reached record levels each of the past seven years. Surveys of overseas buyers continue to show that the industry’s educational work is having a direct impact on awareness and sales of southern pine. While mature markets in Europe and the Caribbean remain important, much of the Southern Pine Council’s work is centered on expanding new emerging markets in Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, Pakistan and India. There has been unprecedented growth in exports to these markets and opportunities exist for future expansion.

The biggest challenges SP manufacturers face is the lack of education among overseas buyers about U.S. softwood lumber grades and sizes, particularly in emerging markets that are accustomed to tropical hardwoods. How the U.S. industry sizes and grades lumber is unique, and it takes a lot to train traders and specifiers about how to choose U.S. products best suited to their needs. And in markets accustomed to hardwoods, extensive training is needed on how to handle and store kiln-dried softwoods from the U.S.

Nevertheless, the southern pine industry remains optimistic when considering exports for 2018. Demand in the Caribbean will grow over the coming years as it rebuilds after hurricanes ravaged several islands. Wood-frame housing—using southern pine—is becoming more popular in Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Peru, thanks in part to our efforts to encourage governments and builders there to embrace wood-frame construction. And in Southeast Asia, Pakistan and India, declines in the quantity and quality of domestic logs are driving buyers to source lumber from the United States.

Complete information about SFPA’s international promotional efforts is available at SouthernPineGlobal.com.

Social Media Supports Promotions

Social media has become a very effective and cost-effective promotional tool for SFPA. The association continues efforts to deliver the latest information and reinforce the benefits of using southern pine as a building product through educational videos and DIY posts.

Recently, SP was featured at the Greenbuild show in Boston within the reThink Wood Showcase, sponsored by the Softwood Lumber Board. Dealers and distributors are encouraged to follow the association on Twitter, @Southern_Pine, to receive the latest updates of our efforts to provide builders, architects, engineers and specifiers with the latest information about lumber products at trade shows and other events throughout the year.

Dealers needing training materials for their sales team are encouraged to view the association’s YouTube channel: southernpinelumber. With over three dozen videos offering educational tools focused on raised wood construction, lumber grading and treated lumber among other topics.

For 2018, look for southern pine displays at the International Builders’ Show, DeckExpo, JLC Live, and the AIA national convention in New York City.

These exhibits are partnering efforts with the Wood, Naturally and reThink Wood campaigns sponsored by the Softwood Lumber Board.
Erin Graham

Erin Graham is the Communications Director at Southern Forest Products Association

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