Drying wet wood can be a real pain. You wait and wait and it seems like it’s never going to happen.
But how long does wet wood take to dry? Well, that all depends on the conditions.
In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at;
- How long does it take for wood to dry after rain
- Factors affecting wet wood drying time
- How long does wood take to dry indoors
- How to dry wet wood fast
So whether you’ve got a stack of lumber sitting in your backyard or you just want to know how long you’ll have to wait before using that new piece of furniture, read on!
Time to kill the suspense;
How Long Does Wet Wood Take to Dry?
Wet wood takes at least 2 weeks to dry. But the drying time of wet wood varies based on the wood size, weather, moisture content and location. Bigger wet woods with high moisture content take several weeks to dry. This is due to the depth that moisture must travel to escape the wet wood.
Keeping wood in warm and windy weather can significantly accelerate the drying process. The wind carries away the moisture near the wood surface, creating room for moisture deep inside the wood to move closer to the surface and escape.
Sunny weather is characterized by warm conditions necessary for evaporating the moisture in wood and causing green wood or lumber to dry.
Drying time can also vary considerably depending on the intended use of the wood. For instance, wood meant for staining should have at least 12-17 percent moisture content or dryer.
This means you may have to wait longer for greenwood to become acceptable dry wood if you intend to stain it. We don’t recommend staining wet wood.
Suppose it was wet firewood; you would wait for less time since the acceptable moisture content for wet seasoned firewood is comparatively higher at about 20 percent or more.
If you intend to use the wood for fencing, you might get away with slightly higher moisture contents not different from those of seasoned firewood.
Factors Affecting Drying Time of Wood After Rain
Drying time mainly depends on the wood’s moisture content. This moisture can result from green wood being still fresh or wet seasoned wood being rained on.
The length of time the wood is exposed to moisture or rain will also generally determine its moisture content.
If wood is exposed to rain or moisture for long periods, the prolonged uptake can drive its moisture content through the roof. And the reverse is true.
In particular, exposure to rain can increase the wood’s moisture content by about 30 percent. So to consider the wood dry enough, you would want to get this level down to about 15 percent.
Consider using a moisture meter to determine if the wood has dried before using it. All said, here are the factors likely to influence the drying time of lumber.
This is the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. For example, if you store wet wood in an area with high humidity levels, the high levels of moisture in the air will hinder the evaporation of water from the wood.
This can significantly prolong the drying time. The drying process involves losing the wood’s moisture into the air.
Unfortunately, when the air already has a lot of moisture, it inhibits the movement of moisture from the wood surface to the atmosphere.
In contrast, if humidity is low, moisture from the wood can easily escape into the air, accelerating the drying process. This is why wood in low-humidity environments tends to dry faster than those in humid conditions.
The wood type
The drying times for hardwoods differ from softwoods. Most hardwoods are generally denser than softwoods, making them significantly heavier. This structure plays a key role in affecting their drying times.
A hardwood will generally take longer to dry than an equivalent softwood species.
If you have a wet hardwood, its moisture content may be less than a corresponding piece of softwood, especially if they are exposed to rain or moisture equally.
However, softwood will lose its moisture much faster than hardwood. The high density of hardwoods means the moisture trapped inside them has a harder time coming out and escaping into the air than softwoods.
So, hardwoods tend to have longer drying times than softwoods.
Woods tend to dry faster in dry and windy areas with adequate sunlight. However, if you live in such places with high temperatures, you can expect your lumber to dry in less than a week, depending on its moisture content.
Woods with less moisture can dry completely in 2 to 3 days, whereas others typically take weeks to dry.
Temperature is a major contributor to faster drying times since it accelerates moisture evaporation from wet wood, leaving it dry and ready for use.
In contrast, low-temperature environments tend to delay the drying of wet or greenwood. Unless you use some artificial method of accelerating the process, wood in cold climates can take weeks to dry.
Size of the wood
The wood size determines the distance that moisture must travel to escape inside the wood structure. Thick lumber, for instance, will likely take longer to dry than slimmer woods due to their sizes.
This explains why people normally split wood. When you split a freshly cut piece of wood, you increase the surface area while reducing the size. Both factors lead to faster drying.
Ideally, smaller pieces of wood have more surface area exposed to the outside environment. Drying wood cookies is easier than logs.
The bigger surface area directly translates to faster moisture reduction in the environment.
In other words, the moisture has more room to escape than when the surface area is smaller.
Recommended Reading: How to dry wood slices in the oven
How to Dry Wet Wood Fast
The quickest and easiest method to draw moisture out of wood fast is to provide heat. For example, you could stack them around burning wood to heat them directly or place them near other heat sources.
The moisture can quickly evaporate and leave the wood dry by placing wet wood near a fireplace or heat source.
This method is especially handy during rainy days or winter months when the sun is unavailable to help dry the wood naturally.
The fireplace method is just one of the ways to speed up the drying of your wood. Here are a few other tried and true methods of drying wet wood fast.
Method 1: Stack up the wood into small pieces
Depending on the intended use of your wood, you can split them into smaller pieces before storing them. As you have already learned, splitting wood into smaller pieces increases the surface area exposed to the outside environment.
With a bigger surface area exposed to the air, the moisture in the wood has more room to escape from the wood.
Once you have split the wood into smaller sizes, stack them up in relatively small piles with enough room for airflow between the pieces.
Method 2: Warm the wood
Warm air is the quickest way to evaporate water from wood or anything. So instead of leaving the wood to dry under normal room temperature, you can provide it with heat to reduce the drying time to a fraction.
The more heat you add, the faster you can expect your wet wood to dry. You can place the wood near one of those traditional open fireplaces or wood-burning stoves to dry or apply your home’s electric heaters to the wood for targeted heating.
Just steer clear of propane heaters. While they may create the required amount of heat, they produce a lot of moisture that could raise the room’s humidity levels, slowing down the drying process.
If the weather is sunny, you can place the wood outside to dry in the sun. While doing so, ensure you do not leave them out overnight. Precipitation could make them wet again, or the rain could fall on them.
Method 3: Use fans to improve air circulation
Warm and windy weather tends to accelerate the drying process of wet wood. However, in the absence of natural wind, you can use fans to simulate wind and improve air circulation.
This way, you can achieve the same effect as natural wind. The increased air circulation will drive away any moisture in the air around the wood. The resulting dry air will go a long way in speeding up the evaporation of moisture from the wood.
Method 4: Run a dehumidifier to reduce moisture
We have mentioned that high humidity slows down evaporation.
If the weather does not allow you to have the wood outside, you can put them in a woodshed or any closed space with a dehumidifier.
The device will lower the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, allowing your wood to dry faster.
You could use the dehumidifier in the basement or some other storage you have set aside for the wood in your home.
A dehumidifier can be an excellent way to dry kitchen cabinets, drawers, or wooden floors that have become soaked with water for some reason. It can also help with moisture-soaked furniture
In addition to using a dehumidifier, another option for storing wood in a workshop is to use wall-mounted lumber storage racks.
These racks provide a safe and organized way to store your wood and can help prevent warping and other damage from improper storage.
Method 5: Expose the wood to air dry
If you have a lot of wood stacked together, they may not get enough air circulation to facilitate their drying. So in such a case, it would be best to spread the wood to expose them to the air.
You can also open windows to improve ventilation and allow the wood to air dry. Then, if the weather is dry, you could place the wet wood outside in a carport or the yard to dry.
Air drying is a natural process that works great, especially during warm months and in less humid areas.
How to Tell if Wood is Dry
The surest way to tell if the wood is dry is by testing it with a moisture meter. Alternatively, you can check the ends of the logs to see if they are cracked or dark in color, confirming they are dry.
Additionally, observe the weight of the wood. Dry seasoned wood should be lighter and makes a hollow sound you hit two pieces together.
Finally, consider pouring water on the lumber. If the water beads on the surface, the wood is wet. If the wood absorbs the water immediately, it is dry.
Why is Wet Wood Bad for Woodworking?
Moisture trapped inside wood is a serious cause of wood rot and can affect the wood’s structural integrity. In addition, the dampness can damage the wood’s aesthetics by discolouring molds and algae.
While it may be possible to paint wet wood, it’s generally recommended to paint dry and properly seasoned wood.
If you have a woodworking project, you will also want to wait for the wood to dry completely due to the following reasons:
Wet wood is not strong enough
Wood gets stronger and more suitable for various projects as it dries. Using wet wood instead can result in feeble structures that break under minimal strain. This is because absorbing moisture causes the wood to swell, losing its fibres.
Sanding is difficult on wet wood
Since moisture causes wood fibers to be loose, sanding wet wood is difficult and likely to tear the fibers instead of creating a smooth surface.
Related: How to Cut Notch in Wood
How long does it take for wood to dry after rain?
Wood normally takes about five days to dry after rain. This timeline is an approximate figure and can be shorter or longer depending on the climate.
How long does wood take to dry indoors?
Wood is traditionally expected to dry at the rate of one year per inch of wood thickness—as a rule of thumb. However, variables such as the area’s temperature, ventilation, or wood type will speed up or prolong the drying time.
How long does it take for firewood to dry after rain?
It generally takes no more than a week for firewood to dry after rain. This drying timeline will, of course, depend on the climate and size of the pieces of wood.
How long does it take for wood to cure?
Curing wood can be a year-round process taking anywhere from six months to two years. For this reason, people typically cut and store wood in late winter and early spring for use the year after.
How long does it take for wet wood to rot?
Wet wood can start to rot in 1 to 6 months if untreated. The rot can occur sooner if the wood remains sitting in water or if humidity is high.
What happens to wood when it gets wet?
Wood is generally porous, and water will likely penetrate it if it gets wet. Such wetness can soften the wood, cause it to swell, and damage its structure. In addition, if the wood is not dried sooner, it could rot, develop mods and algae, and become discoloured.
Knowing how long it takes for wet wood to dry can help you plan your woodworking appropriately. You don’t want to use wood with too high moisture content, resulting in fungi and algae formation or rotting.
Since wet wood is not recommended for woodworking, we hope this article helps you plan your next project better.
Next, read about how much time does pressure-treated wood take to dry?