Like the wider timber sector, mouldings manufacturers have maintained a breathless pace for two years. The market has been driven by construction recovery and the UK’s stampede into home improvement through the pandemic.

While some report no let-up in market momentum, others say the cost of living crisis has somewhat dented consumer confidence. But still none of the suppliers canvassed by TTJ were less than busy and their generally positive outlook, despite economic headwinds, is reflected in continued product innovation and investment.

“The market has been growing massively, with the current increase in the improve-notmove tendency [among homeowners] and use of mouldings in decorating walls when repainting being on-trend,” said Cheshire Mouldings national sales manager Jacquie Capper. “Our sales are up by a double digit percentage since 2019.”

After a buoyant couple of years, DW Mouldings found the market slowing in Q4 2022, with the home improvement boom working its way out of the system.

“With prices increasing all around, purse strings are tightening,” said director David Howard. “Enquiries are now like London buses – nothing for a while, then they all come together. However we’re not complaining as it’s still keeping us busy. And although we’ve seen less home improvement sales, commercial and refurb mouldings are still strong.”

James Donaldson Timber (JDT) reports the mouldings market varying according to sector. “As a general stock item, softwood mouldings via merchants have followed a general slowing trend,” said managing director Iain Torrance. “[But] the MDF mouldings market, with products also used in new build and contract sectors, has been far more resilient.”

SAM Mouldings is also seeing a “different dynamic in the supply and demand picture”.

“More time is being spent along the buying chain to ensure buyers are getting best value for the product and service package,” said sales director Gerard Wilson. “But we still see a sense of positivity. Housebuilding kept up strong activity levels to the end of 2022 and uptake of MDF mouldings in RMI during Covid strengthened [product] awareness, allowing us to maintain a strong presence in this market too.”

“We saw traditional mouldings business increase during lockdown due to the influx of DIY projects, and home office and lodge markets have added significant sales. This helped balance drop off in the commercial sector,” said David Johnson, Dresser Mouldings general manager. “But the latter is now more stable and we’re increasing commercial refurb sales. We’re maintaining good levels of commercial new build contact too and healthy growth in joinery, bespoke profiles and cladding.”

As Covid restrictions eased and construction work resumed, W Howard saw demand rise across its customer base. And it reports its business in home improvement, which grew through 2021/2022, shows no sign of slowing. “We’re continuing to see strong sales across RMI,” said group commercial director Simon Fleet.

In recent months, high inflation and rising energy costs had caused the wider market to dip slightly, he added. “And we believe the energy crisis may impact refurbishment in 2023. But so far, the effect on our mouldings sales remains minimal.”

As demand climbed in recent years, suppliers report consumers also looking for greater design variety and increasingly sophisticated products. And that persists. Hence continuing range development.

“We’re finding door profiles such as frames, lippings and hockey sticks are big movers, and we’re still producing large amounts of coffin mouldings,” said Mr Howard. “But we’re also doing a sizable quantity of bespoke products. People are now more inclined to ‘be the Jones’s’ rather than the ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ and we’re producing at least 10 new bespoke profiles per week, anything from small beadings and large cornices, to weird and wonderful multi-part profiles.”

Cheshire Mouldings remains primarily a timber mouldings business, but its PVC product sales are also on the increase – and it recently introduced new black PVC trims. Overall its best performers are astragal and decorative mouldings, such as barrel moulds, plus more recently its new range of wall kits.

“They’ve only been on the market a few months, but sales have exploded,” said Jacquie Capper.

The kits come in Dado, Shaker, Modern and MDF variants and fitters were involved in their design to ensure ease of installation.

Mr Wilson reports that the growing interest in a more contemporary look seen in recent years continues, with “sleek and simple profiles performing well”.

“Our mouldings are predominantly preprimed, ready for end users to paint – and at the end of 2022 we improved our primed finish,” he said. “But there’s also increased demand for fully finished.”

JDT also reports growing sales in contemporary designs “with grooves/chamfers creating a streamlined, modern look”.

“We’ve also launched a range of hardwood mouldings, with an extended stock offering to supply merchants within 48-72 hours,” said Mr Torrance.

Late last year W Howard launched new stepped and V-groove MDF profiles, “designed to bring contemporary style and clean lines to modern homes” and it reports increasing interest in primed products due to ease of installation.

“Our Real Wood Veneer profiles, supplied ready for a wax, oil, lacquer or wood stain finish, have also been particularly popular,” said Mr Fleet.

Dresser Mouldings says that some of its best performing products remain dado rail, picture rail, panel mould and period skirtings, with social media shaping style trends and referenced in enquiries.

“But cladding has been our biggest growth sector in mouldings since 2020/21 ,with our best performer being our BWF Awardwinning 12-colour Accoya Finish Line range,” said Mr Johnson. “We’re now looking at expanding it to Thermowood redwood and other species.”

To meet demand and support product development, producers say they’re maintaining or upping capital spend.

Cheshire Mouldings has installed a 100m/ minute Weinig Powermat 2400 planermoulder for skimming raw board prior to cross-cutting, while a new System TM fingerjointing line has trebled its prep mill capacity.

To “increase production and further reduce lead times”, DW Mouldings last year installed a new 8-head Weinig Powermat 2400, and a new Stenner resaw is about to arrive.

“Our online profile library, containing over 5,000 profiles, is also really taking off and seeing a lot of traffic,” said Mr Howard.

JDT has been investing too, last year installing a new MDF mouldings production line, a softwood mouldings line and an envelope wrapping machine used for hardwood mouldings.

Since its 2019 acquisition by James Latham, Dresser Mouldings has also installed a raft of new technology. This includes a Weinig Powermat 1500, a Weinig Variorip saw, extraction systems, an Omga heavy duty cross-cut and two electric multi-directional forklift trucks.

Mouldings now have multiple channels to market, but producers say they remain a prime product for the merchant trade.

“Our customers themselves have online presence, but most mouldings sell in-store in the retail and merchant sectors,” said Ms Capper. “And they’re the most profitable part of any shop, giving merchants fantastic margins.”

SAM’s main routes to market remain large DIY stores and merchants.

Its advice to the latter is to make their mouldings offer highly visible. “It’s also important to ensure products are well-labelled and the range is communicated internally with appropriately trained staff,” said Mr Wilson.

JDT serves merchants only, maintaining that all mouldings offer them an “added value opportunity”.

“Regardless of size or breadth of range, the key for merchants is to keep racks full of good quality, saleable stock by adopting strong stock rotation and replenishment processes,” said Mr Torrance.

W Howard sells through merchants and specialist distributors and works closely with them to support upselling, with their customers “increasingly upgrading skirtings and architraves as finishing touches in home renovation”.

“We’ve recently launched a new point-ofsale merchandising unit for displaying our MDF profiles, giving customers an easy way to choose between different options,” said Mr Fleet.

Dresser also services multiple channels to market. But merchants remain a key target. In fact it is focusing on increasing merchant sales of traditional mouldings and cladding,with a “strategic support approach focused on a defined product range, good availability and reliable service”.

“There’s a very strong case for mouldings as a core product in any merchant, particularly commonly used profiles, such as ogee and torus skirtings and architrave,” said Mr Johnson adding that they should also follow social media in range development to monitor end user trends.

The combination of energy cost rises, high interest rates and raw material inflation – which some see reviving in 2023 – have inevitably pressured mouldings producers to up prices. But they insist they’ve tried to keep this to a minimum. One manufacturer also added that increases in overhead costs are “notoriously hard to pass on in the construction industry”.

Looking at the year ahead, some manufacturers do expect it to be more challenging than the previous two. “We’re not immune to the hard times being experienced in other sectors,” said one.

But the sector also expects sales to be underpinned by the rising ‘improve not move trend’ and there seem to be no signs of battening down the hatches, with another indication of companies’ determination to push business forward coming in marketing.

SAM, for instance has been promoting its new primed finish and is producing an extensive new brochure, while JDT is promoting its new hardwood range and W Howard has launched a new website detailing its mouldings range. Ms Capper promises that Cheshire Mouldings also has “something new in the pipeline”.


In association with the University of Bangor’s BioComposites Centre, James Latham has developed a calculator to provide a total carbon figure for any order placed. The calculator not only reports the biogenic carbon of the product – the CO2 absorbed by the wood through photosynthesis – but also its overall carbon footprint, encompassing forestry and sawmilling processes, transportation and storage.

Footprint totals are thus presented on a ‘cradle-to-warehouse gate’ basis, capturing greenhouse gas emissions to the point goods are despatched to customers.

Lathams is now widening the scope of its calculator to include mouldings and is working with the University of Bangor collating data to provide an independently verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Accoya cladding.