Wood brings genuine class and natural durability to any building project. However, there’s one thing that builders and homeowners dread: timber warping.
Here’s a simple rundown of what causes wood warping, twisting and splitting – and how you can minimise the risks.
What is timber warping?
It’s when flat or straight wood changes shape – ranging from subtle twists to timber bending along the entire panel. Because it affects a building’s structural integrity, warping isn’t just an aesthetic problem: it can be downright dangerous.
What causes it?
It’s quite a complex science but, put simply, warping happens when there’s a rapid gain or loss of moisture in the wood.
Wood is a natural, porous material. When it gets wet, it swells. When it dries out, it shrinks. If that happens unevenly, the shape can change. For example, if the sun-facing side of a timber panel dries out faster than the underside, it will shrink faster – causing the panel to bend.
Many factors can influence if, and how much, this happens, such as:
- The species of wood: some, like Cedar, are more stable and less vulnerable to warping.
- How and where timber is stored.
- The environment it’s installed in (eg dry or humid environments can cause warping, causing either moisture loss or absorption).
How to minimise warping
The right oil is a crucial ingredient to keep moisture content consistent in your timber. For example, CUTEK® oil has been uniquely developed to diffuse very deeply on application. Wood soaks up CUTEK® just like a sponge – protecting it from the damaging effects of water and significantly extending its dimensional stability and service life.
Here are some other tips to help get “around the bend”.
- Choose the right timber for the job (eg stability and performance in different conditions).
- Give your timber time to acclimatise and dry out in a cool, dry, shaded place before installing it.
- Always store timber in a protected, well-ventilated environment – and strapped into bundles.
- Avoid long, unsupported spans of wood when building: and ensure it is held firmly into place at appropriate intervals.