Why Timber Warps

Why Timber Warps

Why Timber Warps

Wood is one of the world’s most regularly used building materials. Wood looks well, works well, and adds value to a home both inside and out. Unfortunately, many wood constructions will crack and bend with time. Warping is sometimes inherent in wood and cannot be avoided. However, there are extrinsic forces that produce warping that can be partially controlled by applying your understanding of warping and prevention.

What is warping?

Wood warping is a deformation caused by unequal variations in the moisture content of different regions of a piece of wood. When one portion of a hardwood board dries quicker than another, the drier part shrinks faster, causing stress and changing the shape of the wood. So a board that was supposed to lie flat suddenly has a bent somewhere in it.

What causes warping?

Simply put, timber warps when there is a fast increase or decrease in moisture content in the wood.

A common reason of warping is when one face of the timber (say the side facing the sun) dries faster than the opposite face, i.e. the underside, causing the timber to pull towards the dryer side.

More precisely, it occurs when all of the ‘free water’ swiftly departs the timber and the ‘bound water’ is then driven out the wood cells. In other words, the wood exceeds its fiber saturation point (FSP).

How to minimizing warping?

  1. Allow your timber to acclimatise and dry out in a cool, dry spot before installing. When demand for timber exceeds supply, timber may be delivered directly from the treating tanks or saw mill to the contractor. It is recommended to purchase treated timber a few months before you need to use it.
  2. Always use standard sizes – do not have timber re-sawn from standard sizes. Excessive machining of the timber causes stress to be released within the timber cells and this stress will manifest itself in the wood as warping, either immediately or after it has been exposed to the ambient moisture of the surrounding air.
  3. Proper installation is essential for minimizing timber movement and warping. It is critical to use proper bracing and fixing procedures at the correct intervals of the timber. If this is not done, the timber will warp over time, no matter how hard or dry it is.
  4. Another crucial element to consider is the type of wood. It is crucial that you select a proper wood for the job.
  5. Proper timber oiling or coating will assist to maintain the moisture content consistent in the timber, reducing warping.
  6. Think about where you’re going to store your wood. The top sections will warp if left outside unsecured and exposed to the drying winds, rains and sun. Some sheds and standard building containers also may not be ideal owing to the heated air and insufficient ventilation. A cool, dry and well-ventilated room or garage is an excellent choice. Strapping items together when storing them is also a recommended technique.


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