How to Dry Lumber at Home

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Lumber yards use wood-drying kilns to dry out pieces of freshly cut lumber before selling the pieces to customers. However, the average home owner does not own a large kiln he can use for this purpose, so he must rely on air-drying to transform green lumber into usable, dry lumber for construction projects. Air-drying lumber at home may take between six months and up to two years to achieve fully dried out lumber pieces. By using the appropriate stacking and storage methods you can work to shorten drying time significantly.

Things You'll Need

  • Cinder blocks
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Choose a location to stack the green lumber for drying. Ideally you should choose a high area with no threat that pooling or running ground water will reach the bottom boards in the stack. If possible, you may consider placing the lumber stack in a barn or garage away from the threat of falling rain water as well.

  • Lay large cinder blocks into place to create a foundation for the lumber stacks. To promote optimal drying for the bottom lumber pieces, you should not allow any boards to touch the ground. To achieve this, lay cinder blocks on the ground to form a pad that matches the length of the boards. You may choose any size for the block pad width, but be sure to lay cinder blocks with their holes facing upward and approximately 1 inch apart to promote air flow.

  • Lay the first layer of lumber into place over top of the cinder block pad. Lay this first layer, so the ends of the boards line up with the matching width of the cinder block pad. Lay each board with an inch or two between all boards.

  • Lay only three boards in the next layer and alternate the direction in which the boards lie. Turn the boards in the second layer to lay perpendicular to the first boards. These three boards should sit an equal distance apart with one at each end of the board and one in the middle of the two outer boards. This spaced-out layer allows more air to get into the stack to promote speedy drying.

  • Continue to stack layers of boards, alternating the direction and number of boards in each layer. Do not extend the stacks more than 6-feet tall as this may result in a shaky stack that eventually falls under all the weight.

  • Cover the stack with plastic if placed outdoors or in areas prone to rainwater leaks. The plastic prevents the wood from getting wet again after drying starts. Leave a few holes in the plastic, along the sides of the stack to prevent humidity from building up in the stack and causing the lumber to dry slower.

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