Defining our terminology and making sure we agree on their meanings before using them is helpful when it comes to communicating in any context. Major misunderstandings and disappointments can result from inconsistent use of specific terminology. At J. Gibson McIlvain, we place a high value on education as well as on honest, comprehensive, and open communication with our clients. However, not all lumber suppliers share our enthusiasm for that kind of thing.
There are some phrases used in the lumber sector that frequently lead to misunderstandings. In this series, we want to help you understand some of those words so you can ask the appropriate questions and make sure you have the lumber you need with the exact specs you require. “Kiln-dried lumber” is the first such lumber term we’ll examine.
Why the Term “Kiln-Dried Lumber” Is Important
Kiln-dried lumber is a word that almost everyone who works in or around the lumber business is acquainted with. Because we are aware that before we can utilize lumber to effectively build anything, it needs to be thoroughly dried, we know to ask for such. However, not every piece of kiln-dried lumber will have the same moisture content, so you may want to be quite specific about the level of your wood’s dryness depending on your specific application.
Not All Kiln-Dried Lumber Is the Same
While kiln-dried lumber in North America must have moisture levels between 6 and 8 percent, this is not universally true. Instead, the normal range is 12 to 15% in moister climes like Europe. This distinction won’t matter much for outside applications, but it might have disastrous effects in a climate-controlled setting.
But is it truly a problem in North America, you might be wondering. Perhaps, perhaps not. Yes, it can be if you’re obtaining exotic lumber. Due to the fact that these mills are frequently run by European businesses, their lumber is typically dried to European rather than North American standards. Therefore, you should always ask precisely regarding the moisture levels to which your lumber has been kiln-dried when sourcing African or European species. African Mahogany, European Beech, French Oak, Sapele, and Wenge are a few of these species.
Behind the Scenes at J Gibson McIlvain
Because of this problem, we at J. Gibson McIlvain actually re-dry certain wood species when we receive them in order to meet North American standards. However, not all wood suppliers will go to this extra length, which may be reflected in price differences between lumber providers. Additionally, you should be aware that this re-drying procedure is not quite straightforward; in order to produce stable items, care must be taken during both the initial air-drying step and the additional kiln-drying step to output a stable board.
The specifics of our air-drying and kiln-drying procedures for exotic hardwood species that enter our lumber yard will be covered in Part 2 of this series.