Air Drying Lumber

Drying Your Own Lumber

If you have the time and space, air drying your lumber is a great way to save money!

Air Drying The Right Way

Hardwood lumber stickering diagram taken from
Taken from

The diagram above shows how to "Sticker" your stack of hardwood lumber for proper air drying. "Stickering" is the stacking of the green lumber boards with 1 inch wooden spacers in between the layers of wood. The stickers should be aligned vertically and should be separated by approximately 18 inches. A column of stickers should be placed near the ends of the drying stack. Proper stickering allows for good airflow from the stack, helps the wood to dry evenly, and prevent mildew from forming. The ends of the boards should be painted with any standard latex paint to help limit cracking.

On the top of the stack an air space should be left and the stack should be weighted down to help the top boards to dry without cupping or twisting. The drying lumber should be kept out of the sun and rain/snow if at all possible. The roofing weighted down with cinder blocks makes great, low cost roof for the drying stack.

Time to air dry varies tremendously with the thickness and the species of the lumber as well as the conditions the lumber is dried in. As a very rough estimate it can take 6 to 9 months to properly air dry 1 inch thick red oak hardwood lumber.

We offer an express kiln drying system also as an option for drying your lumber. At an additional cost your hardwood lumber can be dried in a matter of days! Kiln drying your lumber is the best way to get the most out of the your hardwood lumber with the least amount of effort and space. Usually within a week of cutting your logs you can have properly dried lumber you can use. Visit our kiln drying system page for more information.

Whether you are air drying or kiln drying your lumber, the moisture content should be stabilized to be desired location before use. In the Midwest that means wood intended for indoor use should be dried to 6->8% and for outdoor use 10->14% moisture content. To get a better understanding of how wood dries, visit this article: Understanding Moisture Content and Wood Movement. The article mentions the following helpful rule of thumb:

Most species of flat grain material will change size 1% for every 4% change in MC. Applying this formula to a situation where the seasonal EMC ranges from 6% to 10%, a 12-in. wide board will change dimension 1/8 in.