You’d be hard pressed to find any product category, residential building or otherwise, that hasn’t been unduly affected by supply chain issues. The wallboard market is no exception. Labor shortages through the United States have disrupted both the manufacturing and transportation side of the business.
At the same time, issues with imports of drywall offer an increased opportunity for domestic manufacturers to thrive. It all began in the mid-2000s when it was determined that China—a primary exporter of building materials—was supplying the U.S. with drywall that was corroding pipes and causing breathing problems for homeowners across 39 states. The Consumer Product Safety Commission imposed rules requiring that drywall made in the U.S. or imported be labeled and meet industry standards that limit the amount of sulfur content.
That, however, isn’t much solace to the estimated 100,000 homeowners inconvenienced by the imported drywall, who are now faced with the costly remedy of replacing it all. China’s loss is the U.S.’s gain, as now most wallboard is sourced domestically, which means wallboard materials are primarily affected by local supply chain constraints, as opposed to more challenging international issues such as extended lead times, port congestion, and heightened transportation costs. It’s also a more turnkey solution, as U.S. manufacturers can boast that drywall materials that are made here get used here.
There are already indications that domestic manufacturers of drywall are capitalizing. Compared to other residential building materials, wallboard is actually holding its own. The Producer Price Index (PPI) for gypsum building materials was up 18% in 2021, a percentage easily eclipsed by plywood (46%), lumber (40%) and metal (34%). Additionally, the year-to-date increase of gypsum is 12%, which is lower than all the aforementioned materials other than plywood (11%).
The immediate and long-term future of wallboard remains fluid. DemandBuilder® Wallboard is a data resource available to help industry participants baseline demand and measure market growth over time.