Wood is amazing. Made up of cells, wood is a hygroscopic material that holds water. As anyone who paid attention in fifth grade science class already knows, this process of water and nutrients moving from the ground, through the root system, through the wood, and to the leaves is a critical component of photosynthesis leading to the formation of new tree cells and subsequent growth.
FACT: Often, water makes up over half the total weight of the wood in a tree.
The term for lumber that is still wet inside and full of sap is called “green lumber.” If you were to install “green” lumber as decking, you would run into many problems. Because green lumber hasn’t been kiln dried (slowly dried in a lumber kiln as shown above), it is highly unstable and is highly prone to cupping, twisting, and if you are in a drier climate, will split (aka check) rapidly.
Properly dried lumber will still move, but its movement is more stable and predictable. AdvantageLumber.com pays attention to all the details during the process of drying lumber and have our own lumber kiln to ensure quality results.
Why Dry Wood?
At AdvantageLumber.com, we dry wood in our state-of-the-art lumber kiln for several reasons. Among the most important are the following:
- Better usability – Wood shrinks as it loses moisture and swells as it gains moisture.
- Reduce susceptibility to insect damage.
- Stain and decay prevention.
- Increased strength – As wood dries below to certain amount of moisture content, most strength properties increase.
- Better hold – Nails, screws, and glue adhere better to seasoned wood.
- Better finishing, paints and finishes adhere better.
- Better heat insulation- Dry wood is a better thermal insulator than the wet wood.
- Reduce product weight – Shipping costs are based on weight, so dried wood weighs less and costs less to ship.
Lumber Drying Methods:
The methods we use to dry lumber are air-drying and kiln-drying. We do not employ any techniques that use chemicals or solvents. Our secret for the perfect lumber is a slow and steady drying process so we can be sure it is the best when it leaves our yard.
What Does Air-Drying Lumber Mean?
For centuries, air-drying was the only way to properly dry lumber. In the air-drying method, wood is exposed to the outside environment, possibly protected only from direct rainfall with portable roofs or by a shed. Certain controls can be used in this stage of drying to make it more efficient. These include proper stacking, orientation and layout of the stack, and covering the stack. When it comes to certain our Ipe decking spends a good amount of time stacked in our yard, seating on top each other just separated by lumber stickers to allow even air flow around the entire boards, creating an even release of moisture.
Air drying is very gentle on the wood and it is a safe way to release the bulk of the excess moisture, it first allows our wood to come into a kind of equilibrium with our local climate and prepares it for the kilns. The wetter the wood, the longer it will sit and air dry, this could be for a few weeks or the better part of the year.
What does Kiln Drying Lumber Mean?
Once the wood is settled down with the local climate, we safely move it to one of our dry kilns, a dry kiln is a closed chamber or building in which heated, humidity-controlled air is rapidly circulated over the surface of the wood being dried. Our lumber kiln holds up to 8,000 board feet of hardwood. Having a high-efficiency kiln at our disposal decreases costs so you will save more on our variety of domestic and exotic lumber products. Our dehumidification kiln is gentle on the lumber and does not cause as much tension in the wood like the typical kiln that relies on high temperatures. The kiln utilizes computer controlled (shown to the right) drying methods which gives us the ability to produce a better quality product that will be more stable when installed. It also
increases our ability to kiln dry high-end exotics like Rosewood, Cocobolo, Ebony, and many other hard-to-dry woods.
Temperature and humidity are carefully controlled during the drying cycle using drying schedules designed for the species, size, and condition of the wood. The time required to kiln dry a given species and thickness depends upon the character of the wood, type of kiln and kiln scheduled. The process of kiln drying will harden the lignin, reducing the wood’s ability to move making it more stable.
The whole process is very important for us, the key is to understand how wood behaves and making sure these movements won’t cause problems later.
Wood products should be dried to final moisture content about mid-range of the expected moisture content of its environment. These can vary considerably by product, geographic location, and the intended use of the product, whether it will be used inside or outside. When it comes to drying hardwood decking species like Tigerwood, Brazilian Teak, and Garapa, our standard is moisture content level of approximately 14-16%.
At, AdvantageLumber.com, we are happy to use state-of-the-art drying techniques, systems and equipment, to produce the highest-quality quality lumber and decking product at the right cost. Contact us today to order the finest quality lumber and decking for your project: 1-877-232-3915.
I am installing a Cumaru fence in a few weeks and was wondering what the proper storage/stacking method would be for the wood while it is on location during the acclimation period?
It should be outdoors, at least 12″ off the ground. Use shims between layers of wood so that air can flow between each board. DO NOT cover it with a tarp; this will trap moisture and prevent the wood from drying properly. To protect the wood from precipitation, you can use a sheet of plywood. The wood should acclimate for at least 7 days, but contact one of our sales reps if you plan on storing it for more than 30 days. If you have any questions, please give us a call!