Supaslat curved walls at Pier St Kitchecn, Novotel Sydney Darling Square NSW

Is Supawood Too Expensive?

We hear this question a lot, and it is no secret that most of our quotes will have a higher dollar figure on them than most of our competitors, sometimes much higher, but are we more expensive?

Obviously, that is going to depend on what we are comparing to so let us investigate it in more depth.


What is included:

A typical Supawood package includes all the following:

  • The panel
  • Factory prefinishing
  • Matching edges
  • Acoustic perforations
  • Cut to size (including customised perforations to suit)
  • And Shapes as required (including customised perforations to suit)
  • Service cut-outs (including customised perforations to suit)
  • Acoustic backing
  • Fixing system
  • Joint systems
  • Returns
  • Friendly support and advice to help recommend the best ways to select and utilise the above for your project specific requirements.
  • Acoustic advice and acoustic performance data based on extensive testing to Australian standards.
  • Fire Compliance based on over $200K of testing to ensure our products meet the requirements of the BCA’s latest AS 5637 requirement.

Let’s compare:

Let us compare a Supawood quote like the above to a hypothetic alternative quotation which is less than half the price.

For purposes of the exercise, we will take the case where the alternative supplier has an apparently identical material, acoustic pattern, acoustic backing, and edging, but has quoted on standard size panels only and no fixing system or backing strips.


Supawood Option Alternative
Supply Price  $                             200  $           95
Labour to Frame and install  $                               60  $           70
Access Equipment Hire  $                               30  $           53
Framing Material  $                               30  $           30
Extra on-site labour to cut to size  $                                -  $           20
Extra material paid for but cut off and thrown away  $                                -  $           14
Extra on-site labour to edge cut edges  $                                -  $           10
Extra on-site labour to create concealed fixings  $                                -  $           15
Total  $                             320  $         307

So it looks like the alternative is still cheaper.

But we have not yet looked at the cost of quality or risk.

Cost of Quality:

For now, let us assume the alternative supplier is a good and thorough company and their material, machining and coating are all done to the same quality as Supawood.

Assuming that (and that’s a big if), there are still significant quality differences between the above options, for example:

  • Supawood cut to size panels have perforations/slots and borders to those perforations to match their size. The alternative will have either cut through perforations or large solid zones to perimeters.
  • Supawood shaped panels have perforations/slots adjusted to follow their shape, while the alterative will have either cut through perforations or solid zones to the perimeter, which will not match the shape.
  • Supawood service cut-outs will have non-slotted zones to suit, the Alternative will have services cut through the perforations.

Now when Supawood first started 20 years ago all the above were the standard industry practise, but with the increasing popularity of acoustic panels during the last two decades client expectations have risen, and these practises are now regarded as corner cutting.

What would it cost if any of these factors caused the architect, client or builder to defect the panels?

Consider: Replacement panels + labour to remove and replace (and was that site-made fixing system even removable?) + extra Access Hire + rework from services (e.g. electricians) + risk of liquidated damages.

Or perhaps you can persuade (or force) them to accept it, but they quietly decide that next time they will use another contractor. What is the cost of the future lost work?

We cannot calculate the likelihood or cost of these possibilities but do know that if they do happen, they will cost more than the difference between the prices in the comparison.

Cost of Risk

There are other risks, much bigger than those mentioned in the “Cost of Quality” which we’ve seen happen many times over the years:

  • The alternative is a different finish to what the architect intended, and the alternative supplier didn’t realise, and the entire area must be replaced.
  • The alternative is found to be non-compliant with BCA Clause C1.10, and the entire area must be replaced.
  • The alternative is found to be non-compliant and special coatings and a project specific custom engineering solution must be created.
  • The alternative varies from the Supawood in a way that impacts acoustic performance, and the entire area must be replaced.
  • The on-site created fixing system fails.

Let’s look at what it will do to the comparison if the area needs to be replaced:


This is clearly the most expensive option of all.

Nothing is more expensive than an alternative that is rejected!

Other Reasons our prices may seem higher:

Budget Pricing:

Early in the process, when details of what is or may be required is sparce, many suppliers will submit pricing based on the cheapest possible options (e.g. standard size 2400x1200 panels only, Fire Group 3, no concealed fixing system). This means that as the design progresses (or even after the order is placed) and details are fleshed out the price will rise, leaving projects over budget or contractors out of pocket.

For this reason, at Supawood our practise when providing early-stage budget pricing is to factor in a common set of assumptions or rules of thumb in terms of cut to size panels, joint details, fixing systems, edging etc where this information is not yet known.

These assumptions are designed to be conservative and allow for potential inflation between budget stage and construction, which can be up to 24 months, so that when precise information is known the price is much more likely to be revised downwards than upwards.

Some projects, especially large ones with big areas of mostly full-size panels will have significantly lower wastages than these assumptions.

Genuine Mistake or misunderstanding:

As mentioned above, we may have allowed for inclusions or wastage that you do not need or want, so it’s important to work through your proposal with our team in detail to ensure we’ve allowed for precisely what you need and want, and nothing you don’t need.

And since every project is quoted on its own unique parameters, it has happened more than once that we have made an error in calculation that has increased the quoted price significantly.
So, if you have looked into all the above points and we’re still inexplicably higher than you think it should be, contact us.
We’re human and may have made an error in calculation.

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