When you run a lumber yard, proper lumber storage is integral to the success of your business. As a natural product, wood can be adversely affected by environmental conditions. Then there is the sheer size and weight of the wood to consider.
Improperly stored lumber can present a safety hazard, and damaged lumber can mean a loss of profit for your business. This article will offer you the information you need to store your valuable lumber correctly and safely.
Special Considerations for Lumber Yard Storage
Space is the first factor to consider when storing lumber. The square footage of the facility is set in stone, however vertical space is available. Specialized racking can accommodate more inventory within a smaller footprint while still allowing for full access to individual products.
Secondly, lumber storage is not a one-step process (unlike the typical warehouse product). It involves a series of procedures that help ensure the wood remains in the best possible condition. The three steps are drying, processing, and holding.
- Drying – Freshly-cut wood is full of moisture. If stored uncovered outdoors in most environments, it will retain – or even gain – moisture content. Much of the lumber on the market has been kiln-dried. However, you also can dry wood in a warm, dry, well-ventilated indoor area.
- Processing – Depending on the size and scope of your operation, you may need different storage areas to handle both logs and wood materials that have been cut and processed. These products have different sizes, weights, and space requirements.
- Holding for Sale – Your warehouse also needs to have wood that is ready for sale in a safe, accessible area for dispatch to customers.
What Are the Benefits of Proper Lumber Storage?
The right wood storage system maximizes efficiency for your lumber yard and protects the product itself. As a natural material, wood is vulnerable to cracking and warping.
However, when you are able to control the humidity in your warehouse environment, you can enhance the commercial value of the wood during storage. Dry lumber weighs much less than water-laden lumber, and dry lumber helps absorb moisture from other boards.
During prime storage conditions, the moisture content in all the boards evens out and ultimately decreases. Dry wood is sturdy, straight, and more easily and effectively processed.
What Are the Consequences of Careless Lumber Storage?
Even lumber that has entered your yard dry can deteriorate if it becomes exposed to the elements in the form of rain, melting snow, or contact with the damp ground.
High levels of humidity also can lead to damage. Moisture that is absorbed at the open cell ends of the wood is likely to be the most significant trouble source. This wetness can cause swelling, increasing the width and thickness of the wood.
This dampness can spread throughout an entire pile of wood, increasing the moisture content of each piece. According to research by the U.S. Forest Service, when one-inch softwood lumber that has been kiln-dried to 8% or less is piled under a pile roof in a humid outdoor environment, the average moisture content can increase at the rate of about 2% per month during the first 45 days. You can then expect an absorption rate of about 1% per month throughout a humid season.
The Forest Service study shows that rates for open sheds are about 1 percent per month and about 0.3% for closed sheds. Unprotected stored wood that is soaked by rain will have a moisture content that far exceeds these percentages.
What are the Solutions for Wood Storage?
The good news is that the right racking system can take away the guesswork when it comes to lumber storage. Read on to learn about the different lumber yard storage rack systems so that you can make the best choice for your warehouse.
Cantilever Rack – Lumber Racks
Cantilever racking systems are designed to make it easier and safer to store long and bulky items. They can be used both indoors and outdoors at a lumber yard.
Cantilever racks include the following main components: bases, uprights, arms, and bracing. The bases anchor the racks to the floor, serving as a firm stabilizing component for the whole system.
The upright columns connect to the base and feature holes for the cantilever arms, which serve as the shelving units for the wood. The braces provide horizontal and diagonal support for the arms.
Cantilever racks can be custom-designed to store any lumber size or length you need. And they have the capacity to safely handle the heavy weight of your umber with ease.
Pallet rack systems are excellent for storing plywood and other wood products. They are comprised of upright frames, beams, and decking.
The frame provides the structural support for holding heavy loads. These frames can be made of several different materials, but the strongest option is steel. Beams are what hold your wood products. The longer the beam (or crossbar), the longer the shelving.
Decking is the term for what the rack shelf is made out of. Wire mesh decking will allow a load of up to 2,500 pounds of evenly distributed weight. Solid steel or perforated steel decking might be a better choice if you need to store thin or small items that might fall through the wire mesh.
Another essential storage tool for your warehouse is the lumber cart. These heavy-duty carts allow your employees to transport your lumber and other wood products safely and efficiently throughout your facility.
Center supports handle sheet material, such as drywall, plywood, and paneling. The outer tube bay can hold pipe, conduit, and 2x4s. The six-wheel tilt design of the cart allows maneuverability even with the heaviest of loads.
Talk With an Expert
As you can see, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to storing lumber and wood products. Understanding how wood interacts with the environment and learning about your storage options are essential steps in the process.
If you have more questions about lumber storage, we are ready to help. Please contact one of our wood storage specialists today for a free consultation.