5 Methods (& Advantages) Of Timber Seasoning

Seasoning timber is as old as the hills. It is the first and probably most important process of preparing timber for use in construction or furniture-making.

While it may seem like taking a long route than just using the timber as is, It is the difference between just building structures and building structures that last.

Continue reading below to understand the different ways of seasoning timber and the advantages of building with seasoned wood.

Natural Seasoning Methods

Long before the invention of air conditioning our modern homes, humans have learned the art of seasoning timber to prevent it from rotting. Dry-stacking or stacking in an open space is probably one of the first methods used.

However, it’s not the only natural method of seasoning timber discovered by our forefathers.

Air Seasoning

Air seasoning is when you let the wood dry naturally. This method usually takes 2 to 3 years before you can start using the timber. It has been proven to not only save you a lot of money but not compromise on the quality and durability of the wood.

While this method has loads of advantages we will also explore the downside of this method.

The advantages of using this method are:

  • There is no expensive equipment required
  • This process can be easily managed
  • No specialist required
  • Inexpensive

The downside to air seasoning are:

  • This method is not suitable for all types of timber
  • It takes a lot of time to get it seasoned.
  • There are some timbers that naturally take more than 50 years before they can be used.
  • Its weather dependant. This method requires air which can be a problem if you live in a humid or cold climate.
  • The wood can be exposed to fungus and insects attack

Water Seasoning

Water seasoning is when you soak the timber in water as soon as it is cut down. This way of seasoning timber has been used since 1950. The timber must be fully immersed as partial immersion can ruin it.

The negative aspect of water seasoning are :

  • You need special equipment to keep the wood wet
  • Can be more expensive than air seasoning but cheaper compared to other methods.
  • Timber can start decaying if not kept right. May produce creosote which is a toxic chemical that may be harmful to humans and the environment.

The advantages of using this method include:

  • Fast seasoning process. This method takes 1 to 2 months before you can use it.
  • This is a popular choice when you need to build fast with no access to air seasoning
  • lt limits the effect and growth of insects and fungus
  • A very convenient method that does not leave much room for errors

The downsides to this method are:

  • More expensive than air seasoning
  • Require specialized equipment to ensure the process is carried out successfully
  • It requires more storage space until it can be used.

Artificial Seasoning of Timber

Seasoning timber this way is not a recent invention, in fact, it has been around since the 1960s. The process involves chemical treatment after which they are fully dried to prevent any future attack by fungus or insects.

Here are 4 different types of artificial seasoning:

Boiling Seasoning

Is the process of boiling timber in water for 3 to 4 hours. The challenges become when you have to boil large quantities of timber. So other methods like passing hot steam through the timber in an enclosed room can be used.

The steaming process strengthens and develops elasticity in the timber but at a heavier cost economically. It can also require more space in a form of enclosed rooms.

Chemical Seasoning

This is when timber is stored in a chemical solution of salt for some time. The salt is used to absorb the water from the timber. The timber is then dried to prevent any future attack by fungus.

Seasoning timber this way provides the same result as air seasoning but at a faster pace. Another great advantage of this method is that it does not change the color of the timber Like water can do.

Kiln Seasoning

This method is a very fast process that takes around 1 week. The Timber is heated in an enclosed room at a temperature of 50 degrees celsius for 10 days. This process prevents future attacks by insects and fungus.

Kiln seasoning has a higher cost due to the use of special equipment.

Electrical Seasoning

Is the process of running an electric current through liquid-filled timber. This is another fast way to season timber as It takes around 1 week to get seasoned. This method does not require special skills and it is fairly inexpensive.

3 Advantages of Building With Seasoned Timber

Now that you know the different timber seasoning methods, the next step is to know the advantages of building with seasoned timber.

Increased Strength & Durability

As the wood dries, the fibers start to move closer due to the loss of moisture. This results in an increase in resistance and strength of the timber. This loss in moisture also makes the timber more resistant to bending and thus provides increased stiffness and hardness.

Weighs Less & Easier to Work With

During the seasoning process, the wood loses up to 30% of its weight. The water is extracted from the cell walls and this results in a decrease in the timber’s density.  Less dense timber will weigh less and be easier to work with.

A good timber supplier knows that dry wood is much easier to cut, drill and nail than wet wood. And also much lighter when sawing and cutting.

If you build with unseasoned timber, it can crack and warp as its structure changes form. Timber seasoned using any method above has a less chance

Prevent the Onset of Fungi and Decay

With a loss of moisture comes fewer nutrients for any fungus to feed on. The decrease in humidity also makes the timber less attractive to insects.

While drying may not completely remove the possibility of decay, it does significantly reduce the risk.

The Takeaway: Seasoned Timber is Better Than Unseasoned Timber

Timber seasoning is a process that can decrease the risk of fungus or insect attack, increase strength and durability, make timber easier to work with. Timber seasoned using any method above has less chance of cracking or warping as it dries out since water is extracted from its cells. 

If you build with unseasoned timber, It may crack or warp due to changes in structure while drying. Lastly, if your goal is to build stronger and more durable structures then consider using seasoned timber for all its benefits.

Martin

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