Co-Founder of BuildDirect Rob Banks and I went to a hardwood flooring mill in Quebec. There, we observed the making of hardwood floors from end to end. It was pretty fascinating, and the people on the floor were very helpful in showing us how they take raw materials and turn it into flooring.
One of the most interesting aspects to the process was the kiln drying element. Green lumber is taken off of the lumber truck, palleted, and then placed into large kilns. In the case of the mill we visited, each one is about the size of a small warehouse space. The reason that lumber is dried before it is processed ‘on the line’ into flooring planks is to lower the moisture levels in the wood.
The moisture naturally found in the wood has to be reduced drastically in order to allow the wood to be at its most stable when it’s eventually installed as wood flooring. With the moisture levels too high, swelling and warping is more likely. Efficient hardwood flooring kiln drying means a more reliable product less likely to lose its stability.
But, what are the details of the process? And how is modern kiln drying more efficient, and more eco-friendly than ever? To start with, the cutting edge technology used in modern hardwood floors kiln drying allows a lower temperature at which the hardwood is dried.
This lower kiln temperature accomplishes a couple of things:
1) It puts less stress on the wood. This means less cracking, less wastage, and better use of resources all around.
2) It makes better use of the energy output of the kiln itself by containing and recycling the heat instead of venting it into the air. This is simply a better use of resources once again, and is more sensitive to the surrounding environment.
Take a look at the video in which Rob explains this part of the process further.