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Can't increase prices 'fast enough': Mohawk CEO

The cost of construction materials has been rising so quickly that it's "difficult to raise prices fast enough," Mohawk Industries Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lorberbaum told CNBC on Wednesday.

That's squeezing margins on some of the company's commodity-sensitive flooring lines, he said in a "Squawk Box" interview from Las Vegas, where his company was showing off its products at the Home Depot managers and vendors meeting.

The Associated General Contractors of America trade group said producer prices for construction rose 0.6 percent in January, with gypsum up 7.4 percent and lumber up 2.4 percent.

As for housing overall, the recovery is in the "third inning," Lorberbaum said, with new homes and the commercial side leading the way. "The thing that lagged was the remodeling part of the business, which is unusual for coming out of recessions. It's usually the other way around." He added that remodeling looks to be picking up.

Sitting alongside Lorberbaum, Masco CEO Keith Allman agreed—saying that tough winters like this year usually lead to better-than- normal spring seasons.

In a separate "Squawk Box" interview Wednesday, Home Depot Chairman and CEO Frank Blake longed for spring as well. It's been a "challenging spring because it's been so delayed," he said. "Our garden department, it's best-selling product was a snow thrower. That is not what we want. We would prefer people be buying at this point more outdoor products."

Across the retail industry, the rough start for 2014 has been largely blamed on the harsh winter weather, which represented about a $100 million drag on Home Depot's business through February, Blake said.

But there's been "continued modest improvement in the economy," he added—saying that the housing recovery in 2013 led to Home Depot's best year since 1999. "We think the housing recovery is going to continue in 2014, but probably at a bit slower pace than we saw in 2013."

Last month, Home Depot said it earned 73 cents per share for the fourth quarter, 2 cents above estimates, though revenue of $17.7 billion was slightly short of expectations.

Home Depot's massive ecosystem helps fuel business at many companies like Mohawk and Masco that respectively do 10 percent and 25 percent of their sales with the home improvement company.

Both suppliers also count Home Depot as their biggest customer.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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