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Paint Shortage: Is The End in Sight?

31 August, 2021

In short... no.

It’s no secret that paint’s been hard to come by. While not everyone has experienced product shortages, there are plenty of stories of suppliers not being able to get products to market, and contractors being unable to make good on their obligations.

A quick review: The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of manufacturing facilities to slow down or shut down, the unexpected freeze in Texas damaged a lot of products, and a labor shortage extends to shipping and transporting materials once they do become available, while even if contractors get the products, they’re having a hard time finding painters to put them on the wall. Coupled with that, demand for building materials has skyrocketed, meaning the shortage is felt more keenly than it might have during normal times. It’s no surprise that everything costs more.

If you’re having problems procuring product, you’re not alone. Contractors from coast to coast reported troubles getting paint.

Concord, New Hampshire: There’s a shortage of grey acrylic caulking. It’s hard to find Cabot Solid Acrylic Stain. A lot of Sherwin-Williams products are out of stock, so I’m using the Ben Moore lines.

Tulsa, Oklahoma: We typically use high end products from Sherwin-Williams. They have been out of everything for the most part for months. We’ve tried switching to Ben Moore and PPG but have started having trouble getting those lately.

St. Louis, Missouri: No flat paint, no ceiling paint or bonding primer at Sherwin in the STL. Some wall paint shortages but that’s flowing pretty decent right now.

Chicago, Illinois: The main Ben Moore dealer in Chicago was having issues getting the flat interior Coronado products.

Slave Lake, Alberta: Had problems getting Advance and Scuff-X from Ben Moore. Not much of these in Alberta, Canada.

California: Here in the California central coast, it’s hard to get eggshell and certain primers.

Sundries can be hard to source as well. “I’ve been waiting six weeks on brushes. Can’t get 3.5-inch sash brushes anywhere,” said one New Hampshire painter.

Others are doing OK.

 “No problem with Benjamin Moore products in Northern Wisconsin,” said one contractor.

Another in Mississippi states, “I haven’t had any major problems. Sherwin-Williams is my main vendor, and they’ve bent over backwards taking care of my needs.”

Most paint companies are being transparent about the issue. “Raw material suppliers were heavily impacted by extreme low temperatures across the southern United States in early 2021,” Kelly-Moore released in a statement. “This caused plant shutdowns, the loss of material, and damage to many facilities.  These manufacturers are still working to return supply levels back to normal.  With limited supply, customers such as Kelly-Moore are being allocated small amounts of raw materials that do not meet current demand.”

PPG says largely the same: “As a result of global supply chain disruptions, we continue to actively secure raw material supply and minimize the impact to our customers. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in demand in some markets we supply due to increased consumer demand for our paint products for residential renovations. These commodity supply disruptions alongside increased demand for many PPG products have been a core driver of elevated raw material cost inflation within the coatings industry.”

Most shortages, adds Kelly-Moore, are from this side of the globe. “We are not being significantly impacted by supply or transit from overseas,” said the company, which also stated it doesn’t yet see an end to the problem. “Currently, the shortages and delays are ongoing. We have limited information from our suppliers on when more raw materials will be available and when shipments will arrive. Our teams are working diligently to produce and source as much material as possible to fulfill your needs.”

Julie S. Young, Vice President, Global Corporate Communications at Sherwin-Williams, tells us the company is making some changes to help minimize the impact of product shortages. “Sherwin-Williams is prioritizing the manufacture of in-demand products to ensure contractors can access their most-needed supplies and is taking steps to meet this demand including rerouting shipping lines, utilizing air freight to expedite delivery and leveraging relationships to source materials faster from different markets across the world. In addition, we’re adding manufacturing capacity in multiple locations to increase production and availability of coatings.” She encourages contractors to contact their reps as far ahead of time as possible to work on getting the products needed for a project.

The final word? No one expects this to change any time soon.

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