This is often less of an issue in more humid climates where the wood will dry more slowly, and some prefer this, as it allows the wooden joints to dry and move together as the home ages. While that may be the case in some instances, you are running the risk of high volatility in the foundational structure of your home. We can provide green timbers for those who desire them, and they tend to be the least expensive of the timbers available for framing. However, especially for our clients in the drier west, we don’t recommend green timbers.
There are primarily three ways of drying wood: air-drying, conventional kiln-drying, and radio-frequency kiln drying (RFKD). All of which we can do to fit your preferences.
At Colorado Timberframe, we have a yard in the high, dry Colorado climate where we air-dry our timbers before they are cut. To facilitate this, we sticker them, putting them up on blocks and exposing their ends to the open air. While we keep a ready supply of Douglas Fir here, if we have the time, we can also air-dry any other type of wood here as well. We have found this to be the most inexpensive and effective way to dry our wood before it is cut. Air-drying is the most natural, gradual, and thorough drying process presently available, and we have had good success with it, finding it the most stable way to acclimate timbers and preserve their strength and straightness. It is an option unique to our location and climate, and therefore is an advantage that very few timberframe companies have available to them.
However, there are a few other alternates for pulling the moisture from logs before they are cut. The most common is using a conventional kiln that takes somewhere around ninety days to slowly bake timbers dry. However, this method tends to only evaporate the water about an inch into the surface of the wood. The core of kiln-dried beams will still contain significant moisture and that moisture will move over time, possibly causing the issues of checking, shifting, and twisting that we mentioned before.
Another method is to use radio-frequency kilns to dry the wood. These logs are commonly referred to RFKD (radio-frequency kiln-dried) timbers. While Colorado Timberframe does offer this as a service in cases where time is of the essence, it is much more expensive. Radio-frequency kilns act like microwave ovens, drying logs from the inside out. While this is superior to kiln-drying, “processing” logs in this way can make their fibers respond in unexpected ways. It can make the wood twist and check more, because the “microwaving” shocks the tree’s core. Despite these possible issues, we have had good success with this process for a number of clients so believe it is a viable method if the homeowner desires.
In addition to this, all of the trees Colorado Timberframe uses are responsibly harvested by reputable providers. We also have the ability to get Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timbers, if requested.