Hardwood Splits and Cracks with natural beauty
We are frequently asked about splits and cracks in hardwoods and why does it happen? And will it damage the structure? The simple answer is they are totally natural and nothing to worry about.
Equilibrium of the environment
Wood wants to be the same as its environment both in moisture content and temperature. During summer months and soaring temperatures timber starts to exhibit cracks and splits where it further dries out from its original point of FSP (Fibre saturation point).
Hardwood also tries its hardest to match its environment which you may not know, it moves, swells, and shrinks this is normal timber behaviour and should be fully understood when buying any timber product.
It is by its nature trying to reach an equilibrium with its surrounding air moisture. During summer this moisture content in the air is going up and down all the time as is the temperature and the wood is trying to do the same thing.
As hardwood dries out it shrinks across the grain and develops splits and cracks, sometimes also called ‘shakes’. As the grain runs along any one piece of timber the splits and cracks which open up as the fibres dry and separate this gives unique, natural character. You will notice this mainly in bases and platforms because they are cut on the horizontal.
Cracks and splits are all part of the ageing process you will have probably seen this in the oak beam structure in an old pub at some point, we add expansion joints to all our timber bases to allow for this natural movement.
Regardless of how well dried a piece of hardwood is it will always grow and shrink according to seasonal changes in relative humidity of the air.
Sometimes cracks can open up alarmingly large this is entirely normal and once the inner core has dried the crack will close up.
Likewise as the moisture in the air increases so will the free water absorbed by capillary action in the wood and once again the cracks will close up.
Enjoy it and embrace it as it is part of its charm and warmth we all enjoy. Watch it and marvel at it’s behaviour, cracks and splits will disappear, open up, wander and move.