In this final article of our series (see Part 1, 2 & 3), we’ll be making a few more comments about the importance of lowering lumber’s moisture content in order to promote ideal stabilization. Then we’ll attempt to explain why this issue is one that everyone from overseas suppliers to lumber dealers, to contractors and customers, should seek to better understand.
Stabilized Lumber Yields Better Performance
As we’ve already noted in our previous article, kiln-dried lumber that reaches a moisture content level of 8% or lower is much more stable than lumber that doesn’t get to that level. The actual performance of this lumber will usually be superior to lumber that hasn’t reached that North American moisture content standard.
If lumber is properly stabilized, it is far less susceptible to twisting, warping, and bowing when it’s exposed to the elements. There are times, for example, when the wood will have to endure some weather conditions that would typically cause a significant increase in moisture content. These would include during hot, humid spells or heavy rainstorms.
At these times, wood that has been kiln dried to the North American standard levels of 6-8% won’t tend to see quite as severe and quick of a change in overall moisture content. This tendency for the percentage to climb slowly and steadily as opposed to rapidly and dramatically can make all the difference in the world. This lumber shouldn’t crack as easily as wood that hasn’t been dried down to as low of a moisture content level.
That’s one of the advantages of finding wood that has been kiln dried down to the 6-8% level. If you’re a customer or contractor, you may want to inquire about the possible kiln drying and air drying practices of both your lumber dealer and their foreign suppliers before you make your next imported lumber purchase.
Why it Matters for You
Whether you’re the one supplying the lumber to contractors or you’re the one buying and using the lumber, moisture content should be a part of your general knowledge about wood materials. There are a couple of reasons why it’s important for you to know about this topic.
1. It can Impact the Lumber’s Price
Since extra time, cost, and effort is expended in order to properly dry lumber to North American standard levels of 6-8%, lumber that’s being utilized in this market will tend to cost more money.
2. It can Impact the Lumber’s Quality
Rather than feel tempted to complain about the extra cost, remember that you tend to get what you pay for, at least when it comes to lumber. If you want stable lumber that will perform well in spite of adverse weather conditions and dramatic seasonal changes, you’ll need to be willing to pay more. Superior quality lumber that stands the test of time will definitely prove to be worth the extra cost in the long run.
African exotic hardwoods continue to grow in popularity and distribution throughout the North American lumber market. If you notice that certain suppliers, especially large brokers, tend to offer significantly lower prices than their competitors, its time to start doing some investigating when it comes to their quality control practices. Chances are pretty good that those so-called savings they’re offering you are really the result of the dealers removing some of the important steps to the process we’ve described earlier in this series. Lower quality lumber produced by cutting corners when it comes to the drying process won’t get you the kind of results you want. Less expensive isn’t always better.
Next time you get ready to order exotic hardwood, find out if your potential supplier makes sure their lumber has been dried to the 6-8% North American standard level before it’s offered to customers. If you want even more detailed information, consider inquiring about how they go about drying their lumber. Digging deeply into these types of issues will help you to make sure you’re getting the kind of top-notch, durable lumber you deserve.