If you’re in the wood flooring industry, you’ve come to realize that the relationship between wood and water is important to pay close attention to. Wood loves a consistent environment when it comes to how much moisture it is exposed to. There are many tools out there to help us keep tabs on moisture levels, but what exactly are these tools telling us when we take a reading?
Let’s take a look at where the moisture content of wood originates and see how it is removed before wood is cut into flooring.
Like many living things, trees need water to live and grow. Trees are cellular in their structure and those cells store water that sustains the life of the tree. Over 50% of the tree is comprised of water. However, before the wood can be used in woodworking and construction, there needs to be a lower moisture level in the wood.
With open air drying, the wood is exposed to air and stacked in a way to maximize airflow. There is less control over the climate where the wood is dried which can lengthen the drying process. Some air drying is done before other drying methods, but given enough time, lumber that is solely air dried can produce a stronger, higher quality wood.
Acclerated Air Drying
Another method is to incorporate fans to increase the airflow and help the wood to dry out a little faster. Sometimes this is done prior to kiln drying.
Kiln drying is the process where air circulation, temperature, and humidity are all closely controlled to help wood reach the desired moisture content. This allows the drying to be carefully controlled and done quickly.
Problems with Drying
There is a finely tuned balance in the kiln drying process with air circulation, temperature, and humidity. If one of those is out of proportion, problems may come up. The outer surface of the board drying out faster than the inner can cause cracks and checks.
Moisture meters are intended to help us gauge moisture content in the wood through the different parts of the drying process, but the important thing to remember is that a reading reflects the moisture level at the time the reading is taken. It is the quality of the entire drying process that determines whether a wood floor is properly acclimated. And don’t forget that acclimation is just as important at the jobsite just prior to installation as it is at the mill. A properly milled, air dried, and kiln dried floor can still fail due to improper jobsite acclimation. Watch our Acclimation 101 video here.
Know Your Mills
Knowing the entire forest to floor process is important when looking for quality wood flooring. Our close relationship with Missouri Hardwood, and other mills around the country gives us confidence in offering great products to our customers.