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Didn’t Think Lumber Tariffs Impact You? Think Again!

You might not think politics and remodeling overlap much. However, policy and legislative changes can have a big impact on both the remodeling industry as a whole and indirectly on homeowners.  In late 2017, the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imported softwood lumber from Canada. With tariffs as high as 20%, this change has resulted in an increase of lumber price for United States consumers. And it’s not just lumber.  Bloomberg reports rising construction costs are definitely the biggest headache at the moment for builders. In the near term, they are passing the cost for increases in lumber and other materials along to homeowners, but longer term this will not be sustainable. Homebuilder sentiment fell by one point in April with builders citing pressure from tariffs and rising prices for other imported products.  

Increasing prices also pose a challenge for current homeowners looking to complete a home remodel. Between framing, hardwood flooring, cabinets and countertops, wood is still a popular material choice for many, but tariffs and rising prices make considering the use of alternate materials a necessity.

We are feeling these impacts locally in Northern Virginia, too. Whether you’re considering a kitchen remodel in Reston or a home remodel in Ashburn, it is our job to guide you in making sensible selections that meet your investment goals but don’t compromise your design.  Luckily, there are a variety of alternative materials you can use for your project that won’t break the bank. An added bonus? The housing industry’s reliance on lumber carries a heavy environmental footprint but with improved manufacturing techniques and innovative products always coming to market, finding alternative materials is not only cost-effective but can also help make the planet greener, too.

Here are a few of our tips for selecting alternative materials for flooring and cabinets during your home remodel:


Gorgeous hardwood floors are striking in any home, but it is not the only flooring material that has a big impact. There are several other materials that mimic the look of hardwood at a lower cost:

  • Bamboo: Because bamboo grows quickly (and therefore takes less time to replace), bamboo floors are a great eco-friendly and cost-effective option. Bamboo looks similar to hardwood with similar water resistance and durability.
  • Laminate: Laminate flooring is a versatile and affordable wood alternative. Homeowners sometimes shy away from this type of flooring, but today’s products are much improved compared to the early days of laminate flooring.
  • Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT): Grandma’s vinyl floors have certainly gotten an upgrade over the years! Today’s version – LVT is modern, hard wearing and beautiful in just about any room in your home.


Hardwood cabinets are hard to beat aesthetically and we all love the look and feel of them.  If you still want to use hardwood for your cabinets they are still a great option but you will increasingly pay a premium for them. There are some other options, including:

  • Reclaimed wood – we are always looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle so cabinets made from recycled wood is a growing trend. Even well known giants like IKEA have started a new line of cabinets made from reclaimed wood planks and laminate coating made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Mixed materials – if you still want hardwood but budget is an issue, you can get really creative with mixing in other materials into your design. Glass, metal and even open shelving on your upper cabinets can create a unique look but save on cabinetry costs
  • Bamboo –  although bamboo flooring has been popular for well over a decade, there is now increasing availability of kitchen and bathroom cabinetry options, too. Our money is on this as a trend to watch
  • Lyptus – a hybrid Eucalyptus tree species that makes for a gorgeous kitchen, Lyptus has a similar look to quarter sawn oak without the flecks. Although it is not necessarily a cheap option, it is a fast growing tree that is unusual because it is hard wood. Greener and hardwearing, we think we’ll be seeing more use of lyptus in years to come   
  • Veneer – keep an open mind on this one. Veneer is a thin layer of wood applied to a plywood or composite base to create flat panel pieces with a consistent wood grain pattern. Commonly used along with solid wood frames for doors and drawers or on their own, the reduction in wood use while still providing a rich wood appearance make it a beautiful and budget friendly choice

Love Your Home With Synergy Design & Construction!

Don’t let rising costs keep you from creating your dream home. If you’re completing a home remodel in Ashburn, Reston or the surrounding area,  Synergy can bring your project to life. We understand the challenges of finding material options that are affordable, non-toxic and eco-friendly, and are here to help you make the best selections without sacrificing quality.

Are you ready to begin? We’re always happy to have a conversation!

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