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Moisture and Shrinkage

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 A tree will be cut down and sawed into boards. These boards are placed in uniform stacks with other boards their size to keep the boards straight. The stack is aimed at prevailing breezes to accelerate drying. Boards stay in this stack for 4 to 6 months to ensure that the necessary moisture has evaporated from the fibers.

Next the boards will be trucked to the flooring mill or manufacturer and loaded into a dry kiln. The kiln is a very large building with fans to circulate the air, steam pipes to create heat, and live steam to induce moisture. The boards are very gently treated by a highly trained specialist. As the humidity is gradually lowered and the temperature is increased, the boards will reach their optimum moisture content for flooring of about 8 percent.

During this process, the boards must reach 105 degrees in order to sterilize any Lyctus eggs (a parasite that ingests wood). The 8 percent moisture content in the wood keeps it flexible. It is important to control the moisture content in order to ensure that the flooring will “behave properly.”

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