What Is Kiln-Dried Wood?



natural wood,wood furniture

If you’ve ever shopped for furniture online, you may have noticed the descriptive term “kiln-dried wood” and wondered what that meant. And, even if you haven’t wondered, it’s not a bad thing to know.

‘Green’ Wood vs. Dried Wood

When timber is first cut it is called “green” due to its freshness and high moisture content. Perhaps unsurprisingly, green timber is not ideal for building and carpentry, because as the wood dries it will bend, warp and contract. So, it’s better to let it dry before you use it.

As you know, like onions and good cakes, trees have many different layers. The inner layers, known as heartwood, are actually dead and not as wet as the outer layers, called sapwood. This, along with the fact that different trees have different levels of moisture, is why controlled drying can help maintain consistency in wood products.

Kiln Drying vs. Air Drying

Air drying is more or less what it sounds like: Milled wood is left to dry in the open air, usually in a large roofed structure that protects it from precipitation. It takes longer than kiln drying and typically leaves more moisture in the wood.

Kiln drying, on the other hand, brings moisture levels down to around 6%, depending on what’s called “equilibrium moisture content,” or EMC. The EMC is the balance between the wood’s moisture content and the relative humidity of the environment.

What’s Better: Kiln-Dried or Air-Dried Wood?

To the layperson, kiln drying wood is simply a way to speed up the air-drying process. Air drying can take a long time and with demand for lumber being what it is there is always going to be a need for quicker drying times.

That said, you’ll find some carpenters who prefer one drying method over the other. Fine furniture makers and cabinetmakers, for example, may allow wood dried using either method to go through a process of acclimation before beginning a build so the wood takes on the moisture of its environment and naturally brings it closer to its EMC.

Long story short, kiln-dried wood is a good thing. It’s a sign the wood is real and that someone has taken the time to treat it so that it doesn’t warp or bend.

If you ever have any questions about kiln-dried wood or any other issues regarding our real-wood products, just let us know!

Shine Company''s outdoor side table, which comes in 10 different finishes, is crafted in kiln-dried cedar and features rust-resistant hardware. 

DHI's top-selling "Deco" accent chairs are crafted with kiln-dried hardwood frames and come in eight different upholstery colors.

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