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Air Vs. Kiln-Dried Logs: Which is Better?

Kiln dried logs.

Every log home starts with a freshly cut tree. These “green” logs, as they’re called, look and feel wet and contain lots of moisture. In order for the wood to be ready to be used for siding, railing, staircases, or trusses, it needs time to dry out, so it’s stable in size and grade. It’s common practice to either air dry or use kiln drying in order to prepare the wood for residential or commercial use. As the wood dries and the moisture in the log is removed, the wood shrinks. Learn how to dry wood using the air-drying and kiln-drying processes.

What are Air-Dried Logs?

Air drying is a natural, yet lengthy process to dry wood. The logs are stacked with spacers between each log and left to dry in the open air with cover overhead for about 6 to 16 months, depending on the wood species. Once logs have reached Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC), or the point where the wood neither gains nor loses moisture, the logs can then be milled. Some wood suppliers prefer air drying because the process dries out the logs evenly with minimal cracking and no internal tensions baked into the wood. A major advantage of air-dried logs is that the logs retain their natural color better than kiln-dried logs.

What are Kiln-Dried Logs?

Kiln drying is a “forced” process that speeds up the drying time. The logs are placed into a kiln and heat is applied by slowly raising the temperature to 170°F. As heat is applied, dehumidifiers are used to remove the moisture from the kiln and large fans are used to circulate the heated air throughout the kiln to help ensure that the logs dry evenly. This process rapidly forces the moisture from the wood and can take anywhere from 10 hours to a couple of days to dry out the wood, depending on the species. At the end of the process, there should be between 6-10% moisture content left in the logs. It’s important to closely monitor the drying rate of the logs, so the outside perimeters don’t dry faster than the center and cause severe cracking. Until the logs are ready for use, they must be stored indoors and away from moisture. There are many reasons why wood suppliers like Northern Log Supply believe kiln-dried logs are better than air-dried logs. Because of the high heat, kiln drying ensures that all insects, eggs, mold, and fungi in the wood are killed and dries off the resin, which would otherwise turn to liquid at room temperature. It also sanitizes the wood, eliminating the need for harsh chemical treatments. Kiln-dried wood is also said to be stronger when pre-finished wood stain is applied, as it’s able to penetrate deeper into the wood, making it more long lasting.

Where to Buy Kiln-Dried Logs

We hope the above explanation can be used to help understand how to dry wood and the difference between kiln-dried and air-dried and kiln-dried logs. Ready to buy kiln-dried logs for residential, commercial, or wholesale use? Northern Log Supply offers cedar and pine logs, sourced from the woods of Michigan. We’re proud to say that we control the entire process from harvesting to delivery to your site. Our expert craftsmen saw, dry, mill, and pre-finish your wood products to order. We provide a vast supply of wood products made for easy installation, which includes paneling, railing, log siding, trusses, staircases, and custom and milled wood products, all of which can come pre-finished or pre-stained to cut down on the expense and installation time. Our friendly staff can help you from measuring to ordering through shipping and installation. Contact us for advice on selecting the right wood, finish, and features for your home.

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