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Carpentry  /  October 26, 2022

Carpenter in Kelowna: Why Does Wood Warp?

Why does wood warp

From furniture to flooring, homeowners routinely choose wood finishes because of wood’s durable, integral and naturally beautiful nature. Wood is meant to last a lifetime, so when it doesn’t — or when a furnishing or floorboard warps — you may be surprised, and dismayed. Why did your wood warp? What can you do about it? And is there a way you can prevent the wood from warping in the future? A carpenter handyman in Kelowna can answer your most pressing questions.

What Is Warping?

Wood warping occurs when the moisture content of the different parts of a piece of wood changes at different rates. As you may well know, wood contains grains. “Woodgrain” essentially refers to the arrangement of fibres within a solid piece of wood. Sections of these fibres throughout certain pieces of wood are denser than others. When you expose a piece of wood to moisture, the grains of the wood soak up water at different rates, thereby making the moisture content of the wood uneven.

When a piece of wood is wet or has an otherwise high moisture content, it will shrink as it dries. Not only will it shrink until it dries but also, it will shrink until it reaches an equilibrium moisture content. Due to differences in density and moisture content, parts of the wood will dry at different rates, thereby causing internal stress, which ultimately leads to changes in shape — or warping.

Conversely, when a piece of wood has a low moisture content compared to the environment, it may try to absorb moisture. It can absorb moisture at different rates just as it can dry out at different rates, thereby causing a similar warping effect.

Are Some Woods More Prone to Warping Than Others?

Different woods are more prone to warping than others. For instance, woods with less dense fibres, such as softwoods, soak up and retain moisture more easily than others. Denser, or harder, woods, can resist moisture for some time. This is why many homeowners prefer hardwood furniture and flooring over their softer counterparts.

What wood species, though, are most stable? Below are a few species that show strong resistance to moisture and warping:

  • Cedar: Cedar is one of the densest natural woods and is extremely moisture resistant. Due to its moisture resistance, it rarely warps.
  • Redwood: Redwood is naturally dense. Not only that, but its grains contain a natural chemical that protects it against moisture infiltration and subsequent warping.
  • Fir: Fir is a stable wood once its moisture content reaches EMC with the surrounding environment — or, in other words, once it becomes seasoned. Once seasoned, fir is highly resistant to warping and, if it does warp, will do so minimally.

There are several other types of durable woods that make great home furnishings and finishings. Your local carpenter handyman in Kelowna can help you identify the best woods for your home and environment.

How Can You Prevent Wood From Warping?

Warping can cause significant frustration for homeowners. The good news is, you can take measures to protect against it.

First and foremost, maintain adequate ventilation in your home and do not let moisture levels get too high. If the air in your home feels wet or damp, chances are any wood pieces you own will attempt to reach an EMC comparable with the environment.

Next, don’t allow spills, puddles or other forms of moisture to sit for too long on a wood surface. Protect hardwood floors with rugs and other surfaces with placemats, tablecloths and coasters.

Finally, seal any wood furnishings or finishes in your home. Doing so is the single best way to protect them from changes in shape.

If your wood pieces do warp, don’t despair. Your local home repair services professionals at Handyman Connection have plenty of tricks for undoing the damage, including the heat method, the iron method and the sunlight method. Whether you need wood un-warped or want to protect it from future damage, contact your carpenter handyman in Kelowna today.

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