Drying Wood in the Attic

      The attic is a handy place to dry small quantities of lumber. Here are some tips and cautions. September 10, 2007

Question
I have a large attic and plan to stack some recently cut 8/4 lumber there to dry. Is there anything I need to watch out for? In warm weather it gets quite hot up there, though I haven't measured the temp. Can the drying wood cause any damage to my home?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
Airflow, temperature control and possibly overloading the meager ceiling joists would be my concern. Depending on when the house was built, the load rating for an unused attic might be only one quarter of the rating for occupied space, per square foot. Not saying it will collapse, but you might want to do some calculations based on the cross section of the joists and their spacing. Also, you might get a lot of degrade in the lumber. Do some research on the drying schedule for the type of wood you are considering drying. Also, air drying for a period of time prior to loading it in the attic might be a good idea.



From contributor T:
I agree with the last note that it might work. I wouldn't personally put wood into an attic, because of the temperature fluctuations between night and day, but that might be ok. I'm not sure.

Back in high school woodshop someone's relative died and left behind an attic filled to the roof across the length of the house with lumber. I'm talking wide walnut, wide cherry - 20" wide, some 3" thick. There were about 10 walnut boards 15" wide 5/4 with the nicest curly rope grain I've ever seen. At least 2/3 of the wood was donated to my high school, and I helped to pull a great deal of it out. The wood was up there since 1960. I don't know what the moisture content of the wood was, but the wood was very stable and has remained stable in finished products for over 5 years. Overall the wood was stickered properly, and over 1/3 of the lumber was degraded by extreme warp, twist, cupping, and cracking. I don't know if the wood was stored up there green, but I believe so.



From contributor T:
It was a wild experience to work in that wood shop that year. I hand carved four identical cabriole legs - pierced ball and claw legs with separate talons, and a knee carving. The majority of the remaining shop class was butchering beautiful boards into things like bows and arrows designed to last 5 minutes. How sad!

If you air dried the wood properly elsewhere and moved the wood into the attic around 15-25% MC, it might just work. Make sure you put weights on top of your pile. Cinderblock works well.



From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I dry about 10 pieces of 4/4 and 5/4 hardwoods in my attic all the time. The final MC is perfect... about 6.5% MC. Temperature does not hurt the wood. I believe that there are enough hot days to kill any insects; hardwood insects do not like softwoods anyway.

I am worried about 8/4 weighing too much for the rafters or trusses, especially if wet. A roof is typically over-designed, just in case, but how much extra is too much? Also, 8/4 of many species must be dried slowly and an attic may dry too quickly. Also, if you have a warp prone species, you will not have the restraint that we would have in many drying situations. Finally, you may have poor air flow if the lumber is on top of the insulation. So, overall, it is probably best to air dry first. Then just put a few AD pieces in the attic to achieve the required low MC.



Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Air Drying Lumber


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article