A Look At How Moisture Affects Wood

Damaged, Rotting Window Inside Older Home

In nature, wood thrives in wet environments, absorbing and losing water naturally to balance its moisture content. But when wood is turned into lumber, it loses many of its natural water management abilities. While finishing products such as stains and sealants will help to protect a piece of lumber from the elements, they will not make wood impervious to moisture. So whether you are building a deck, installing new cabinetry, or laying down wood flooring, it’s important to understand how moisture will affect the wood you are using.

  • Humid Climates: Wood products that are used in humid climates are especially susceptible to expansion due to the extra moisture in the air. If wood products are not appropriately sealed and then exposed to excessive moisture for an extended period of time, they may not resume their original size or shape.
  • Dry Climates: When wood is exposed to low levels of humidity, it will release moisture and shrink in size. As wood loses moisture, gaps will appear at the joints between pieces and potentially cause the wood to crack. In addition to being unsightly, especially when it occurs to moulding and millwork, gaps can affect the integrity of a wooden structure.
  • Maintenance: To help prevent moisture-related problems with your wood, first select a wood species that is appropriate for your region. For instance, excessively humid areas should avoid wood-slab interior and exterior doors. To protect the moulding and millwork within your home, try to keep the relative humidity inside between 40-50%.

To learn more about the relationship between moisture and wood, contact the wood professionals at Southern Lumber in San Jose, CA. Our knowledgeable staff is dedicated to helping you find exactly what you need for each and every woodworking project you undertake. We also offer some of the finest specialty woods available. For more information, contact us online or call (408) 297-9663.

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