Kiln-dried wood is just what it sounds like — wood that is dried in a kiln. A kiln is a type of oven. While it is primarily used for drying wood, kilns have been around for thousands of years and have historically been used for pottery and other purposes. Aside from being faster than air drying, there are a range of reasons why those who are in the lumber industry choose to kiln dry their wood.
To fully understand kiln-dried wood and why it is becoming more popular, it is helpful to learn the process of getting the tree into quality lumber and what the benefits are. The following is a complete overview of how kiln drying works and the advantages and potential drawbacks to doing so.
Wood Absorbs Moisture
Let’s first take a look at why wood requires drying. When discussing lumber, there are three terms that are often used, which are green wood, air-dried wood and kiln-dried wood. Green wood refers to lumber boards from a tree that was recently harvested.
Since the wood has not had a chance to dry, it is generally very moist and heavy from water caused by rain. Kiln-dried wood refers to the process of drying green wood out in a kiln (oven), and air-dried wood refers to the process of letting the wood dry out over time in a covered area.
Therefore, the problem is wood starts out wet after it is logged and cut into boards, and it needs to dry. The issue with air-drying is that it can take multiple months for it to reach the ideal level of moisture and be available for construction purposes.
Kiln-dried wood provides a more efficient way to remove the moisture from the wood, while still ensuring the wood is strong, durable and keeps an attractive appearance.
How is Wood Dried in a Kiln?
The first step in the wood-making process is to harvest trees. The harvested tree, or log, is transported to the sawmill where it is cut into boards (green boards). The wood is then sorted and arranged according to length and grade. As discussed, the wood is still wet at this point.
The wood may need to air dry for a short amount of time (typically a few weeks) before it can be placed in the kiln. Ideally, the weight of the wood should be around 70 percent wood and 30 percent moisture before it enters the kiln.
Once it arrives at the ideal moisture level, it is placed into the kiln. The kiln drying process can also take several weeks, and someone likely needs to monitor the kiln to ensure each piece of wood dries at the same rate. They can control the rate of drying by adding and removing moisture inside the kiln.
Once the moisture level of the wood is less than 10 percent, it can be removed. The wood is then checked for quality and should be ready to be used in construction. Kiln-dried wood works the best for crafting furniture and for home and commercial flooring, although there are a range of potential applications for it.
What are The Benefits of Kiln Drying Wood?
Perhaps the most notable benefit of kiln-dried wood is that it dries much faster than air-dried wood. For manufacturers, this is a huge advantage as they are able to sell the wood faster. However, there are benefits for the consumer as well.
Kiln-dried wood typically has fewer defects than air-dried wood. Also, the high temperatures used in the process can kill algae, fungus and mold on the products to ensure the quality of the wood.
As mentioned, kiln-dried wood works very well for furniture, cabinets and flooring. It typically has a smoother appearance about it, and many find it to be easier to provide the finish with it. With that said, it is still strong and durable enough to be used for other purposes as well, including as a fence, deck boards and other outdoor uses.
The only drawback for kiln-dried wood is that it may cost more on average than air-dried wood. For manufacturers, the cost is almost always higher, which causes increased costs for the consumer as well.
Stock Up with Curtis Lumber
Curtis Lumber offers a range of lumber types, including kiln-dried wood. We ensure all of our wood is of the highest quality and can tailor your order to meet your specific needs and preferences. If you are interested in learning more about our wood, then feel free to reach out to us today.
We are available via phone and email, and we respond to all who are interested promptly. A member of our friendly team will be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you make an informed decision as to which type of wood and the quantity of wood that is most appropriate for your project.