Higher prices and limited availability of softwood lumber has been a key issue for housing and the overall inflation situation for the U.S. economy. With this in mind, did higher lumber prices in 2020 result in higher market shares for non-wood framed single-family homes?
Wood framing remains the dominant construction method for single-family homes in the U.S., according to NAHB analysis of Census Bureau data. For 2020 completions, 91% of new homes were wood-framed. Another 8% were concrete-framed homes, and 1% were steel-framed.
On a count basis, there were 831,000 wood-framed homes completed in 2020. This was only a 2% gain over the 2019 total. As noted above, steel-framed homes are relatively uncommon, with a total of just 5,000 housing completions in 2020, but this total marked a significant increase over the 2019 completions sum of 3,000.
Somewhat surprisingly, concrete-framed homes experienced a decline in 2020. The total decreased 13%, falling from 86,000 completions in 2019 to 75,000 in 2020. The gains over the last 10 years are nonetheless striking. From 2010 to 2020, the concrete-framed market share increased from 5% to 8%.
Some of these gains came from a shift in geography. Concrete-framed homes are more common in the South. In fact, such homes made up 15% of all homes completed in the South. Gains for steel-framed homes in 2020 were clearly a response to higher wood prices.