How to improve the shelf-life of your wood-based products

on 24 October, 2017

Wood is a great building material that's always in demand, but to get the very best from your timber, it's important to store it properly.

If wood is poorly handled, or exposed to the wrong type of heat, cold or moisture, it can easily spoil - damaging your bottom line at the same time. However, with good storage management, you can minimise stock waste and maximise sales.

In order to prevent splitting, shrinking, distortion, discolouration and decay, start by managing the temperature and humidity levels in your storage area. If there’s a marked difference between the moisture content of the wood and the moisture content of your storage area, the timber may shrink or warp.

If you’re storing timber outside, keep it off the ground, out of direct sunlight and protected from heavy rain, ideally in a racking system with a canopy. If your timber arrives wrapped, keep it wrapped. If there’s no wrapping supplied on delivery, cover the wood with waterproof sheeting, but always make sure there’s enough air circulating.

Condensation is wood’s worst enemy. Once you've opened your packs of timber, it's a good idea to remake the stacks regularly. This will protect the outer layers from the elements, reduce the risk of distortion, and also improve the overall presentation of your products.

With structural items such as roof battens and floor joists, stack the timber on adequate bearers on a solid, level floor. To reduce the risk of warping, the length of the bearers should be equal to the width of the pack and the timber should lie as flat as possible. Other structural pieces like I-joists should also be kept off the ground on heavy-duty bearers. This will stop any moisture on the ground seeping into the wood and ruining it.

From a business point of view, it’s vital to keep stock moving. So keep freshly delivered timber back so that you can sell older stock first. Another good tip is to regularly walk the aisles, checking on your timber to make sure it’s presented in the best possible condition. If you have a few items left over from various packs, collect them in bundles at the front of your warehouse.

Finally, make sure you pass on these tips to your customers. There’s no point in pristine wood leaving your warehouse only to be ruined on-site.

As you can see, storage is a fundamental consideration when it comes to timber, but if you follow these simple tips, you'll dramatically improve the shelf-life of your wood products and preserve your all-important bottom line at the same time.

Nigel Buckley-Ryan is Sales Director of Södra Wood.

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