Hello, all you building science dudes and dudettes! This is my inaugural post of what will be monthly installments. Some of you know me, some don’t. For those who don’t, I’m a bearded building science obsessive, former lead carpenter, current project manager, semi-part-time teacher, and writer of all things construction related. You can find me on Instagram @benbogie or drop my name in a search engine to see some of what I do to keep myself off the streets and generally out of trouble.
My goal is to explain the various metrics we use to execute and evaluate different components of our built environment. I plan to dive deep into the how and why of what might be called mundane for being so common, as well as distill complex ideas and practices into easily digestible nuggets. Okay, with the formalities out of the way, let’s get into the topic of wood moisture.
Wood moisture content
Most residential buildings and many commercial buildings use wood in some form or capacity for their construction or finish details. It’s a ubiquitous material in the industry that often presents challenges related to moisture and its affect on how wood behaves. Exposure to too much or too little moisture repeatedly or over long periods of time will cause problems. To understand how it works, we first need to understand what wood is on a basic level.
A handful of pasta
The best way I can describe wood’s structure is with an analogy. Wood is like a handful of pasta—specifically, tube-like pasta. If you take a handful of ziti out of a box and grip it in your fist, you’ve got a rough visual of what wood is—a bundle of carbohydrate foam tubes that have evolved to act as little spongy…