Kiln dried lumber is a standard in the lumber industry because dried lumber is generally prepared for manufacturers into a finished product. Most valuable lumber is used within an enclosed environment-such as a home or place of business - the lumber must be suitably dried to prevent movement in service. For example, lumber dried incompletely and then manufactured into flooring will shrink and deform as it gradually loses moisture to the surrounding environment.
Like any product, lumber becomes more valuable as it emerges from a manufacturer as a finished product. Since manufacturers of furniture, flooring, and moldings all require lumber which is properly dried, the kiln dried lumber market is an extensive one. Though the market requires huge volumes of lumber in various species, thicknesses, lengths, and widths, the one process which often is necessary in the preparation of any lumber prior to a manufacturing process is kiln drying.
In addition, kiln drying offers several benefits with respect to preventing lumber degrade and lowering transport costs. With current lumber grading rules for both hardwood and softwood listing stain as a defect, the prevention of conditions favorable to the spread of stain makes sense. Modern methods of preventing stain include the use of "dip tanks" to submerge the lumber into a solution of liquid fungicides and pesticides. With fresh sawn lumber, the process of placing sticks between each layer of lumber packs will also assist the mill owner in preventing the spread of stain. If possible, the best method of preventing stain is to place fresh sawn lumber directly into the kiln. By immediately beginning the drying process with fresh sawn lumber, stain is inhibited by temperature and air flow. In addition, the drawbacks associated with air drying (double handling of lumber, lengthy idle inventory, and limited space) often bog down mills and add handling cost to lumber. With enough kiln space on hand, lumber operations are able to limit degrade, maximize lumber yield, and offer their customers a high quality product.
As the cost of transporting lumber often affects the ability of a mill to market a product, kiln drying offers the advantage of lower shipping weight by removing the moisture from wood. With water often accounting for half of the weight in lumber, the removal of excess water weight prior to shipping allows more lumber to be shipped per truck. This advantage directly translates into lower transport cost per pack. In a cost competitive lumber market, lumber producers can ill afford to overlook each and every possible competitive edge. The obvious advantages of kiln drying present the mill owner with a valuable option in sharpening the marketability of their products.
As the availability of quality timber decreases, the cost of high grade lumber increases. With the expense of acquiring raw lumber resources on the rise, modern lumbermen are forced to meet a heightened consumer demand for high quality lumber with second and third growth timber. With the average grade yield per log decreasing, lumber operations are placed in the uncomfortable position of having to remain competitive while producing less and less grade material. Though the difficulty of securing quality logs seems inescapable in the near future, one possible solution in the battle to minimize waste and increase profitability is the addition of lumber kilns.
As grade lumber continues to experience high demand in the marketplace, the advantage of streamlining a lumber operation becomes increasingly clear. As profit margins shrink in today's very competitive market, the best advantage open to lumber operations is to minimize lumber degrade due to weathering and stain. One advantage offered by the addition of dry kilns to a lumber operation is strict quality control over the drying process. By optimizing each stage of the handling process, mills are able to profit from their increased efficiency. By maximizing profitability, lumber operations are able to put forward a quality product which is more than price competitive. . . it is a higher quality product at a lower cost.
As opposed to manufacturing methods of the past, modern technology allows the use of glues and bonding agents which have only recently become available to the lumber industry. While these chemicals offer many advantages to the industry, they typically only offer reliable benefits when applied to properly dried lumber. In addition, while advances in modern machine technology provide increased manufacturing capacity, optimum results are usually achieved only with the manufacturing of kiln dried material.
By kiln drying lumber properly, lumber becomes more receptive to the use of glues, fasteners, and bonding agents. Moreover, kiln dried lumber is stronger (over 2x) and stiffer (nearly 2x) than green lumber. As examined in the above text, the benefits of adding kilns to a lumber operation are both numerous and well founded.