An In-Depth Look at Kiln-Dried Wood
For centuries, wood has been one of the most desirable materials for building homes. Today, wood continues to prove its relevance with a timeless aesthetic and impressive stability.
But to be used for furniture or construction, fresh wood needs to be processed first. Kiln drying is one of the primary methods for drying wood. Because of its low-moisture content, kiln-dried wood offers exceptional strength and longevity.
If you are looking into building or renovating a home, check out what makes kiln-dried wood an ideal choice.
What Is Kiln-Dried Wood?
Kiln drying is a way to hasten the drying process using a special oven referred to as a kiln. Kilns allow you to control humidity, airflow, and temperature. The result is always better quality lumber compared to other drying options that can cause certain irregularities.
Since kiln drying is also significantly faster than other methods, it’s understandably often the most desirable. Kiln drying also lowers the chances that the lumber gets warped when used for making furniture or construction
Elements of a Kiln
Most kilns will have four sections: a kiln chamber, humidifiers, fans, and a heat supply.
Chambers are usually brick or concrete structures, although aluminum kilns are rising in popularity because they’re less bulky. Humidifiers inject steam into the wood to help maintain equilibrium while they’re in the chamber. The fans are there for air circulation and to guide the moisture off of the wood and into the air.
Finally, the heat supply allows the operator to manipulate the temperature inside the chamber. Common heat sources include radiators, heat exchangers, and heating pipes. But kilns that rely on renewable energy or electricity are becoming more common.
What Does the Process Look Like?
With air drying, the green lumber is left in the open air for the elements to handle. In contrast, kiln drying always takes place in a closed chamber.
To reduce the moisture level, you can adjust the humidity or temperature when you use a kiln. This is an efficient and effective way to optimally dry different kinds of lumber since the amount of moisture between types of wood will vary.
The kiln draws the moisture up through the fibers to the surface of the timber, where it can evaporate into the atmosphere. Humidity and airflow controls assist with evaporation, while temperature controls speed up diffusion, which can quicken moisture’s travel to the surface.
Why Choose Kiln-Dried Wood?
The other primary method of drying wood is air drying. While both methods have their pros and cons, kiln-dried wood often offers better overall value.
Consider these key differences between the two types of drying practices:
Air drying is a more natural process that doesn’t require much additional effort or equipment. On the surface, this appears to be a benefit of air drying. However, that natural process can take anywhere from eight to sixteen months to happen, depending on what kind of wood you’re drying.
Additionally, although air drying starts naturally, you’ll inevitably need to treat it with chemicals to increase its lifespan later. The wood is also vulnerable to insects, mold, or fungi infestations at the drying stage.
And since the drying process isn’t as uniform as with a kiln, the wood often retains more moisture, which can cause issues when working with it.
There’s a good reason DIYers and contractors alike swear by kiln-dried wood. Compared to air drying, kiln drying is lightning-fast; the process only takes roughly six to eight weeks to complete.
And the fewer defects in kiln-dried wood make it much easier to work with or finish. No warping also means you’re less likely to develop cracks in the wood, giving the lumber higher durability overall.
In addition, because the chamber reaches 170 F while kiln drying, any insects, mold, or fungi lurking within are eliminated. The heat also sanitizes the lumber, so there’s no need to use harsh chemicals on it.
Using Kiln-Dried Wood for Your Next Project
Whichever method you choose comes down to personal choice, but it’s hard to ignore the benefits of going kiln-dried.
If you’re interested in purchasing kiln-dried wood for your next renovation, turn to the experts at Reliance Timber. We create master-quality wood under meticulous guidelines, delivered straight to your job site. Contact us today for more information.