Builders FirstSource’s first quarter loss from continuing operations improved by $2 million from the same period a year ago to reach $19.2 million for the period ended March 31, the company announced today.

Sales jumped 35% to $219.4 million at the Dallas, Texas-based building material supplier and component manufacturer. Cost of sales also grew 33% to $174.2 million, which led to gross margins of 21%, up from the 19% revealed a year ago.

“Our sales growth continues to outpace construction activity as actual U.S. single-family housing starts were up only 16.8% compared to the same quarter last year and U.S. single-family units under construction actually decreased 5% over the same period,” said Floyd Sherman, CEO of Builders FirstSource. He said these were the company’s highest first-quarter sales since 2008.

Adjusted EBITDA, which the company defines as GAAP net income (or loss) before depreciation and amortization, interest expense, income taxes, (or gain) loss on sale of assets, (or income) loss from discontinued operations, and other non-cash or special items including asset impairments, facility closure costs, severance, recapitalization costs, expensed acquisition costs, and stock compensation expense, was $2.1 million, a $7.6 million jump from the $9.7 million loss posted a year ago.

The company’s prefabricated components division saw sales grow 41% to hit $43.5 million for the quarter, which accounted for just under 20% of total sales. The lumber and sheet goods unit accounted for the largest chunk, just over 30%, of Builder FirstSource’s total sales behind a 38% increase in sales to $66.4 million.

Windows and doors had sales of $49.7 million, up 30% from a year ago. The millwork division, which accounted for only 10% of total sales, reported net sales of $21.4 million, a 21% increase. The dealer’s other building products and services unit witnessed a 37% increase in sales to reach $38.4 million.

“We are very encouraged by our first quarter results and expect the momentum we have gained to continue to reflect positively on our 2012 financial results,” said Sherman. “We remain optimistic about the long-term health of our industry and our ability to position the company to take advantage of further improvements in housing...”

During the quarter, the company opened a new distribution center in Jarrell, Texas, which it uses to serve the market for Austin, Texas.