Lessons Learned: Wood Shrinkage and the Importance of Acclimation

We learned the hard way about trim wood shrinkage. Learn more about the importance of material acclimation before installation.

 

Although we hate to admit it, mistakes happen to all of us. Yes, even us! Unfortunately, mistakes are part of the renovation process. They often become stories we can laugh about later but they are super frustrating in the moment. While some mistakes are easy to fix, others are a little more permanent – check out this post for a picture of our tiling oops. Sometimes, mistakes don’t show up right away – like the one we are going to talk about today – wood shrinkage.

Why did this happen?

Simply, wood shrinkage is due to a change in moisture level. As in, wood will absorb or release some moisture as the environment changes. When humidity is high the wood swells slightly from increased moisture; conversely, when the humidity is low, wood dries out and it shrinks.

Moisture content of wood is affected by:
1. Change in location

The biggest shift in environment is when it is brought home. Obviously, the environment in the store is different than home. Even areas within a home can vary.

2. Change in seasons

Throughout the year, there are different levels of moisture due to the changing seasons. Not only does what’s happening with the weather outside make a difference, what’s happening inside does as well. During the fall and winter, heating systems are on while in the spring and summer, homeowners turn heat off and, possibly, air conditioners on.

We learned the hard way about trim wood shrinkage. Learn more about the importance of material acclimation before installation.
A closer look
How can wood shrinkage be avoided?

 

It is recommended to leave materials in the area you will be installing them for a few days before the actual install. This is referred to as acclimation. This will allow the wood to adjust – acclimate – to the new environment. Of course, temperature and moisture levels will change throughout the year.

 

 

We learned the hard way about trim wood shrinkage. Learn more about the importance of material acclimation before installation.

What happened to us?

We know we are supposed to acclimate materials to the space so what happened? Well, we installed the trim during the summer and assumed it was dry enough. If the trim was stored inside it probably would have been fine. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of space to paint and store the trim inside so ended up keeping some of it outside in the carport. We think he dew overnight was enough to make the wood swell. The wood shrinkage then happened when the heat was turned on in the fall and the wood trim dried out.

Fortunately, this mistake is fairly easy to remedy – we just haven’t gotten around to it yet! It won’t look quite as good compared to if we had let the trim acclimate before installing but it will definitely look better than now!

Lesson Learned!

Here’s a picture we posted on Facebook of wood acclimating in the space of our next project. 
We learned the hard way about trim wood shrinkage. Learn more about the importance of material acclimation before installation.

What lessons have you learned after a renovation? Let us know in the comments!

Cheers!

Denise and Sean

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We learned the hard way about trim wood shrinkage. Learn more about the importance of material acclimation before installation.We learned the hard way about trim wood shrinkage. Learn more about the importance of material acclimation before installation.

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