Huttig Building Products reported today its net loss deepened to $6.7 million in the first quarter from a $5.8 million loss in the year-earlier period as sales dropped 3.9% to $99.5 million.

The sales drop "reflects ongoing challenges in the residential construction market," St. Louis-based Huttig said in its SEC filing "Further, we believe that, to an extent, the first quarter of 2011 was more significantly impacted by adverse weather conditions."

On an operating basis, Huttig actually improved to a $6 million loss from a $6.3 million loss in January through March 2010. But its interest expenses doubled to $300,000 this past quarter due to higher interest rates and debt levels, leaving the company even with last year's first-quarter at a $6.6 million pretax loss from continuing operations.

The other major change involved charges from discontinued operations. Huttig incurred a $100,000 loss on discontinued operations this year, whereas in 2010's first quarter it was able to post an $800,000 gain. That $900,000 difference created the deeper net loss.

Millwork sales decreased 8% to $47.3 million and building product sales slipped 1% to $40.8 million. In contrast, wood products sales increased 6% to $11.4 million.

Huttig distributes products to customers in 41 states through 27 distribution centers.