Storing Timber

By admin on August 14th, 2013 | 1 Comment

Storing Timber

Sutton Timber gives us their expert advice on storing timber.

Timber, especially hardwood, is expensive. Getting storage right is an important concern to any business that works with wood. There are a number of pitfalls that can damage valuable wood whilst you’re waiting to use it for any job, most of which can be avoided through simple procedures and a little understanding of this material’s properties. In this article we look at some of the top industry tips that will help you to cut down on potential losses through storage problems.

Work Smart

One of the best ways to avoid problems occurring from storing your timber is by ensuring that it is not kept for any considerable amount of time. Through proper project management and clearly defined time-scales it is possible to order your wood so that it is only stored for a maximum of 48–72 hours, before being taken to its final destination. This way you can also ensure that you keep your storage requirement at a minimum and aren’t paying for unnecessary space.


All wood is made up of a large percentage of water. During the strengthening process, wood is dried out to allow timber to gain integrity. However, if wood is kept in a very arid atmosphere, then it’s possible for it to dry out too much, causing shrinkage and, in a worst case scenario, damage such as cracks and splits in the wood. If you are going to have wood in storage for a long time, then strongly consider purchasing a humidity gauge. If you discover that there is a noticeable problem with moisture in the air, then this can be rectified with a humidifier.

Physical Damage

Much of the physical damage that occurs in wood is down to the way lumber has been machined or stored at the timber merchant. We cannot stress enough the importance of using a well-established and trustworthy supplier for your wood, as even though you may have to pay a small amount extra, you can be sure to save money in the long run by avoiding wastage through purchasing the best quality stock. For instance when trees are felled, the wood at their core is subjected to huge amounts of shock and vibrational energy. This can seriously affect the strength of your wood, causing faults that may not become apparent until machining, where the stress created by the sawing process can cause splits in affected timber.

Metal Corrosion

Believe it or not, wood can actually attack metal. Air and moisture can combine to react with timber, especially with wood that has been dried out in a kiln, to produce acetic acid. Over time hardwoods such as oak and chestnut will produce considerably more of this corrosive substance than softwood. As this is a natural process there is little that can be done to the wood to prevent it from evolving acetic acid; however, by using stainless steel wood racking, as opposed to aluminium, low-alloy steel or carbon steel frames and shelves, you can ensure that the amount of damage caused by this chemical is minimal.

Treatments vs Fasteners

It’s not just wood-based acids that can cause problems with metals. It’s known that many treatments that are applied to timber – such as flame retardants and preservatives – can also cause damage. Prior to 2000, a compound containing copper and arsenic was often applied to pressurised timber as a fungicide. This was identified as a potentially carcinogenic material, and was thus swapped out for copper azole. Although this material is safer from a human perspective, it is known to erode certain types of metal, hence the advice from the industry is either to use fully galvanised, ceramic-coated or heavy-duty stainless-steel screws for this type of timber. Other problem compounds include borax and ammonium sulphide, both of which are added to wood as a type of salt-based fire retardant, and are known to cause corrosion damage to metals.

Carcassing Timber

If you’re looking for wood for a precise purpose within a building, then it’s possible to purchase what’s known in the trade as carcassed timber. This has been specially machined, treated and cut for a specific job within the housing industry, for instance as a roof batten or floor joist, where the structural integrity of the wood is of the utmost importance.


Just as not enough moisture in your timber storage can be a problem, too much moisture can also damage your wood. It is possible to hire two different types of dehumidifiers to help remove the water vapour from the air in your storage unit. A refrigerant unit is the most common type seen in the UK, which works by condensing and evaporating moisture in the air. The second type is known as a desiccant dehumidifier that uses special chemicals such as silica gel, not unlike those that you’ll find sometimes in packaged goods, which can be used to quickly rid a room or storage facility of moisture.


It is vital that all your wooden planks are adequately supported whilst in storage. It is possible for long planks of wood that are only supported at either end to sag under their own weight, causing a bowing effect along the length of the plank, which will render it unsuitable for use. Always make sure that all wood is supported by evenly spaced props along its entire width and length, which will prevent it from sagging and will help keep your planks straight and flat.

Is Your Unit Secure?

Wood, especially hardwoods such as oak, have a large resale value in the UK. It is possible that thieves may see your industrial unit as an easier target than a large house in a residential area, especially with the number of home alarm systems that are now in use. Always make sure that your storage area is secure and, where possible, use storage that comes with security, such as a night-watchman and cameras, keeping your wood in the right hands.


Obviously by cutting down on the amount of wood damage in storage you’ll save your business money by reducing wastage, which can also add extra time to your jobs, and may require you to take additional trips to your timber suppliers. All of these factors may also increase the ecological impact of your business – damaged wood means extra trees have to be felled to supply your business needs, and unnecessary use of your vehicles will add to the carbon footprint of your work. By adopting a fine attention to detail in your timber storage, you can ensure that your business saves money and is more environmentally friendly too.

This post was brought to you by the Suppliers of the Finest English and European Hardwoods – Sutton Timber

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One Response to “Storing Timber”

  1. Jack says:

    Thanks for the tips, this was exactly what I was looking for! I have just bought some hardwood timber for an extension which I am starting to build onto the house. Just didn’t want to ruin the brilliant quality of the wood whilst building.

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