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Webinar Round Up: COVID-19 and Brexit Create 'Perfect Storm' In Timber Industry

We recently met with the Timber Trade Federation and CBI Wales for an in-depth webinar discussing two of the biggest issues facing the timber sector right now: Covid-19 and Brexit. The webinar explored how the pandemic and Brexit have affected the timber industry, including the challenges to supply and logistics. The event was led by Ian Price, Director of CBI Wales, a not-for-profit business organisation that provides a link between its members and the Welsh and UK governments. On the panel was our very own Josh Burbidge, Managing Director of Archwood Group, and David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation, the UK’s foremost membership body for the timber supply chain. Here’s a round-up of some of the biggest topics from the webinar in case you missed it. Starting off the discussion, David explained how Brexit and the pandemic have combined to create a “perfect storm”. He said: “They’ve both presented barriers to trade and doing business. The pandemic has increased demand for timber products, whereas Brexit, over time, will produce a drag on doing business.” David said that while sawmills and manufacturing centres around the world had to close because of Covid-19 restrictions, people across the UK were put on furlough, with many receiving almost their full pay. And because they were spending so much time at home and they couldn’t go on holiday, they decided to improve their homes and gardens, which caused demand for timber products to shoot up. This happened not just in the UK, but around the world. David said: “The stocks that were available went down and down and down, so by the time the sawmills and producers could reopen and start moving goods again, they were playing catch up, and that process is still ongoing. We have a very tight situation in the market. “On top of that, at the start of this year, various issues to do with Brexit came in. Each one of those presents more paperwork and a slowing down in the ability to get goods across the border and to market. “The two messages that need to get through to Government in relation to Brexit are about priorities and pragmatism; whether you take a hard-line ideological approach, or a pragmatic view about how this could be solved.” Josh said the UK leaving the EU customs union and single market had caused issues for Archwood Group.  Brexit has impacted our two brands: Richard Burbidge and Atkinson & Kirby. He explained there were challenges distributing product into both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, due to the misclassification of the company’s products, which were incorrectly flagged as needing phytosanitary certificates. Josh said: “We’re still seeing delays associated with documentation of up to 48 hours to get products over there but that’s almost been absorbed into how we’re doing business over there.” Another major issue is the introduction of the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessment) mark, a new UK product marking that will be required for certain products being placed on the market in England, Wales and Scotland. The UKCA mark won’t be recognised in the EU market, so products that require CE marking will still need a CE marking to be sold in the EU, and these changes will take effect from 1 January 2022. Josh said: “The UKCA marking changes will cause us more challenges around labelling. It drives a barrier between us and trading with other countries. So, if a company or one of our suppliers is producing product for Europe and the UK, it will require them to put two stamps on the product. It’s an additional cost and it takes time, and that is something we’re navigating our way through.” In addition, there’s a shortage of drivers bringing timber material across to the UK from Sweden. Josh said: “It’s too onerous and complicated for them to come into the UK. Plus, we’re seeing inflationary pressures on material.” David agreed, and added: “When you look at certain softwood products there has been a 100%, sometimes more, increase over the past 12 months or so. “We’re encouraging the construction sector to think further ahead. But where this issue causes problems, particularly for some of the housebuilders, is when jobs are priced nine months or more in advance. Then, when the order comes through, the price can be way out from the original quote. That is causing a lot of tension throughout. “But with the vaccinations and the opening up of the economy, I think we’ll see more people spending money on holidays again. And while we want to maintain demand in the market, the current levels are unsustainable.” David said production was likely to run behind demand for the next couple of years. He added: “If, on top of that, you put up further barriers within a country that is a net importer of goods, you limit growth in other sectors that are priorities for the Government, particularly housebuilding. And that isn’t sensible. “The danger is a lot of manufacturers and producers would say they do quite well without selling to the UK. And right now, that would be devastating for the timber sector because we can’t get enough material as it stands. So, we’re asking for the regulatory changes to be delayed.” Josh would like to be able to get more of the products his company needs from much closer to home. “And if I can manufacture it here, even better,” he said. “The challenge in our sector is we don’t have the material that is grown in this country to support the finer joinery products that we manufacture. We don’t have the conditions for the kind of trees we need.” Ian said the issues around supply chains, and businesses sourcing or relocating their operations within domestic or national borders, had come about because of the pandemic, not just Brexit. He said: “I think we’ll see a lot more onshoring over the next few years, for jobs and manufacturing.” Commenting on the challenges that are specific to Wales, Josh said: “The handling of the pandemic hasn’t been the easiest, from a messaging perspective. I’ve got 75 people who come over the border every day from England into Wales, so we’ve got different rules. We also have an office in Scotland, so there are different rules there. The whole devolved handling of the pandemic is a challenge.” Ian agreed, and added: “I don’t think anybody is suggesting one way is better than the other, but it’s not helpful the systems are different – that is the challenge.” Josh highlighted the environmental benefits of using timber, rather than concrete and steel. He said: “Timber is fundamental to the whole environmental agenda associated with newbuild and building sustainably for the future. Concrete and steel aren’t particularly environmentally friendly. “With timber, if you follow the regulations, you’re required to take timber from a sustainable source, which means planting more trees than you’re taking away. Therefore, it’s much better for the environment.” The webinar concluded with suggestions for changes that would help make things easier for businesses. Here, Josh echoed David’s plea for post-Brexit regulations to be delayed.   You can catch up on the webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp_0-ai-tME. Keep an eye out on social media for information on our next webinar.  

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‘Rustic Vogue’ Interior Trend: From Townhouse to Farmhouse

When old meets new; a trend that has been found countlessly in home renovations over the past decade, whether it be a cottage restoration or an old barn conversion. However, more and more people are now opting for a rural aesthetic in their new, modern homes. Throughout the course of the pandemic, many sought solace outside to overcome some of the long-lasting days within lockdown. As we move forward, people are now looking to incorporate a more natural and grounding feel to their own homes and are using a blend of more sustainable or traditional aesthetics to do so. We are calling this particular trend ‘Rustic Vogue’. The trend celebrates rural wood finishes, woven textures, and panelled walls, that when contrasted with more modern and sleek designs, can add a sense of country chic to any home. From raw wood to muted colours, this trend will allow even the most inner-city homes to feel like they have been transported back in time with this contemporary take on the traditional, rural farmhouse. A rustic and imperfect staircase is an excellent way to incorporate more natural elements throughout a home, whilst still maintaining an edge of modernism. To achieve this look, we recommend opting for one of our ‘Trademark’, ‘Classic’ and ‘Heritage’ stairparts collections, as their raw wood appearance will add a more rustic appearance to any hallway, whilst remaining light and inviting. Alternatively, our ‘Elements’ range of timber stairparts and contrasting black balusters would help to achieve the modernist elements of this trend. Additional finishing touches of baby breath flowers, wicker baskets and soft textiles will ensure a home has that true contemporary farmhouse look from the first step inside. When it comes to mouldings, Richard Burbidge’s wall cladding, and pine shelving helps to continue the contrast between old and new throughout the home. In choosing a simple colour palette of white-washed wood or blue-grey painted mouldings, the muted colours will help to encapsulate the serene and calming characteristics of ‘Rustic Vogue’. This trend is not just an old-fashioned twist on modernist design, but a great opportunity to balance sustainable furnishings with contemporary flair, whether in a city, town, or village abode. Richard Burbidge’s stairparts and mouldings can allow any home to become a calm and serene haven away from hectic city life. View our full selection of products here. Request one of our brochures here.

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Why Wall Panelling Has Made a Comeback

From grand country houses to chic city apartments, wall panelling adds charm and character to a variety of interiors. No longer the reserve of traditional libraries or stately homes, wall panelling is having a resurgence. Nowadays, the look is less about distinguished grandeur and more about using period authenticity to add warmth, personality and texture to a room. Take a look at why we think panelling has made a comeback and some top tips for fitting your own... Transforming a space Panelling can make a large space more intimate and cosy or make a small room feel spacious. Thanks to its versatility, it has a transformative effect on any space by creating an illusion of depth, height and character. Unlike paint and wallpaper that can fade, peel or easily mark, panelling has a more lasting impact and can be customised to work with any decor or colour scheme. Dark floor-to-ceiling wood panelling can be used to create a cosy atmosphere; perhaps a snug, a reading nook or even a cinema room. Lighter wood panelling can be used to open up a space, especially if it’s reserved to the lower half of the wall. Perfect for rooms with plenty of light, the part-panelled, part-painted effect creates an airy atmosphere and a striking texture-colour combination. To achieve a fresh, modern style, opt for painted panelling, clean lines, minimal decorative moulding and light colours. Practicality From a practicality perspective, wall panelling is also an ideal way to provide added insulation, cover uneven walls and conceal unsightly marks or damages. It’s a way of adding architectural shape to a featureless room without having to resort to heavy-duty renovations. Due to the rise in demand for affordable panelling and feature walls, manufacturing methods have changed, along with the price point. Gone are the days when the only option was to rely on a skilled joiner. Nowadays, with competent DIY skills and tools, it is simple to quickly and effectively install panelling by yourself. Easy installation Our extensive variety of high-quality mouldings can transform the look and feel of any room. Easy to install with hundreds of different design options, here’s how to get started fitting your own panelling: Simply plan and measure the walls, making a note of any fittings you need to avoid. Map your design measurements onto the wall, using a tape measure, pencil and laser level mark to pinpoint where each panel will be. Choose your desired moulding from our collection. Cut the panels to length, taking care to sand the ends until smooth. Carefully apply the panels to the walls, making sure they’re symmetrical and that you have used a pipe and cable detector before any nailing or drilling. Finally, add a lick of paint and it will be as if the panelling has always been a focal point in your room. Check out our full step-by-step guide here. No matter what aesthetic you’d like to achieve, the most important part of any wall panelling is the quality of its materials. As a leading UK supplier of mouldings, with over 150 years-worth of experience in manufacturing timber products, our mouldings are a sure-fire way to add the perfect finishing touch to your interior design.  View our full collection of mouldings here. Download our mouldings brochure here.

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All Hands on Deck For a Garden Update

Summer is quickly approaching, and the longer days and better weather means it won’t be long before our attention will be moving to spending time outdoors. This provides the perfect opportunity to think about improvements to make the most out of our garden space. Statistics have revealed that a well-maintained garden can add around 20% to the value of your property*, which equates to nearly £55,000 based on the current average UK house price**. With such promising statistics, instead of just adding some new flowers or plants to your garden this spring, why not add real value to your garden by including a spacious decking area that can become a useful, yet stylish space for entertaining? Decking is a great way of extending your indoor entertaining space to the outdoors, and offers a safe space for children to play in the warmer months. With one in seven Brits suggesting that the garden has added to the value of their property, there’s a great opportunity to make the most out of a simple garden area by adding a new decking feature. If you’re looking to move house it will make the area stand out to potential buyers, or alternatively it will impress guests visiting your home. Richard Burbidge offers a wide range of outdoor balustrading that can add a unique finishing touch to any decking area, and more importantly provide an additional safety feature that can offer families peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are protected in the garden. The most common outdoor decking balustrade is traditionally made from timber, but there is now a wide variety of styles designed to suit different home and gardens, and you’d be surprised at how much difference such a simple update can make. Metal and glass balustrading and spindles can be incorporated into a design to add a modern, luxurious feel to a simple decking area.  For homeowners looking for a traditional option, the Richard Burbidge classic balustrade range has a wide selection of choices including: the unique square baluster system, with its straight lines and defined angles; the round spindles option, for a simple yet stylish look; and the Colonial balustrade for an ornate finish which would add a stunning feature to any country cottage garden. For gardens needing a more contemporary update, there is the ultra-modern Fusion system, which adds a real wow-factor to any garden. The Fusion system is available with glass panels that reflect the highest level of modernity. The addition of a decking balustrade can add a beautiful finishing touch to a garden, making your outdoor space a useful yet safe area for entertaining and spending time in during the warmer months. Richard Burbidge has a wide range of range of decking balustrade styles available, view the full range here.   *https://www.propertypriceadvice.co.uk/home-improvements/how-do-gardens-affect-house-price#:~:text=The%20average%20Brit%20spends%2086,the%20value%20of%20your%20home. **https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/housepriceindex/january2021.

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DIY: How To Fit Wainscot Wall Cladding

Each month we release an exciting how to guide, showing you how you can use mouldings to completely transform and renovate your home in a cost-effective way.  This month's guide we show you step-by-step how to fit wall cladding to wainscot level, using just wall cladding, and some basic woodworking tools and techniques. Wall cladding is an easy and cost effective way to add a whole new look to your home. Wall panelling creates an illusion of depth, height and character, that you just can't get with wallpaper or paint alone. This project can be customised to work with any décor, in any room. There’s an endless list of ways that you could choose to add your own creative flair. The step-by-step instructions, as well as a helpful infographic, can be viewed here.  Richard Burbidge products are sold throughout the UK, find your local stockist here. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Decking Balustrade and Railings

More than ever, the outdoors is an extension of our living space. With a simple decking update your outdoor space can be transformed into a warm and welcoming place to relax. Planning and renovating your decking can be daunting, which is why Zoe Goff, decking expert here at Richard Burbidge is here to answer all of those important questions you have when replacing or planning your latest decking project. What are deck railings? ‘Deck railings need rails, posts and an infill which could be either balusters (wood or metal) or panels (wood or glass),’ says Zoe Goff, Product Manager. ‘Deck railing is a vital part of every decking design, it’s especially vital for raised surfaces for your safety. Our decking balustrades can be combined with your existing decking if you choose to replace your rails, or can be designed into a brand new deck. What is the best railing for a deck? The best railing for you, depends on your circumstances, consider the look you are going for, the time you have available to upkeep your deck, and your budget. ‘Timber creates a rustic look that is perfect for a traditional country house. Alternatively, glass or metal is a great option for more contemporary properties. By reflecting light, glass panelling creates the illusion of space and enhances the view of the garden,’ explains Zoe. What is the best cost effective deck railing? The most cost effective option is generally deck railings made from timber. Metal balusters are typically the mid-priced option, with glass balusters being the most expensive choice. Zoe says, ‘When choosing from timber, metal or glass, consider the differences between each. Deck railing made from wood will require yearly maintenance to ensure the timber remains in good condition. While, metal and glass requires less maintenance, and are refreshed with a quick wipe down with warm water and a soft detergent.’ At Richard Burbidge, you can choose to mix and match with timber, metal or glass, to create a unique bespoke decking design. How far apart should each decking post be? Deck railing posts, also called balusters or spindles, should not allow a 100mm sphere to pass through to adhere to the UK safety regulations for decking on ground level. Can a 2x4 be used for decking railing? ‘You can use 2x4 for the upper and lower rails if you want to construct your own deck railings in wood. Remember that you should always check the local building code or building regulations before you design and build your own deck railings to ensure that they will be compliant,’ says Zoe. Why Choose Richard Burbidge? Our collection of decking balustrade combines innovative design with robust construction, for the best of both worlds. Our deck railings are designed for easy construction, and built to withstand the Great British weather. As always, our expert team will be on hand to help every step of the way. From visualising your decking balustrade through to planning and building it, you can always give our helpful team a call. View our outdoor balustrades collections, here: https://richardburbidge.com/shop. Select traditional, classic or contemporary. We also have our Fusion range of fully glass and metal systems, available here: https://richardburbidge.com/shop/outdoor/fusion-domestic.  

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Combining fantastic design with the finest craftsmanship

Established in 1867, family run Richard Burbidge has been passionate about the design, manufacture and supply of timber products for over 150 years. Today we offer a range of innovative products designed to transform your home.

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