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From where to source your timber (EcoChoice is always a smart option!), to what colour – if any – to stain your Oak, there is a lot to think about when choosing an Oak frame as the main structure of  your building project. But have you considered shrinkage? With accurate measurements and beautiful design, you do not want movement in the timber to ruin your floors and walls. That is where we come in. With years of expert knowledge under our belt, we have everything you need to know about Oak frame shrinkage and how you can avoid it. 

Do Oak Frames Shrink?

Although Oak is considered a moderately stable species, Oak frames can experience a degree of shrinkage over time – usually around 5% radially in the first 2-3 years after felling.

As a natural material which contains moisture, it is normal that as Oak dries, it loses some of its size and weight. The amount of shrinkage depends on various factors, including the initial moisture content of the timber, the relative humidity of the environment, and the specific conditions in which the Oak frame is installed.

Despite shrinkage Oak is still a stable, durable building material which is ideal for creating beautiful and lasting buildings. Properly designed and constructed Oak frames include allowances for this natural movement, such as using appropriate joints and connections which allow the timber to expand and contract without compromising the structural integrity of the frame. With a little expertise and some careful planning, the changing size of your timber does not have to affect your frame, and your building can last for centuries to come. 

How to Minimise Oak Frame Shrinkage

It is not possible to completely stop Oak frames from shrinking – it is a natural process, after all! But there are ways in which you can minimise how much the size of your timber changes after installation. 

The first is by choosing properly seasoned Oak. This means that the timber has already been dried to an appropriate moisture content before construction. Well-dried Oak, also known as AD for air-dried, will have a lower initial moisture content, reducing the amount of shrinkage it undergoes as it has already been pre-shrunk. The timber should also be monitored before installation to ensure the moisture content has not changed.

Prepare For Some Movement

Because it is not possible to completely stop Oak from shrinking, it is crucial that you prepare for some movement when planning your timber frame. There are a couple of ways you can do this, including by creating joints which allow for movement with the help of an experienced Oak frame designer, and minimising the fluctuations of humidity in your environment. 

Work With Experts

Shrinkage is a natural characteristic of any timber – including Oak, and designing the frame to accommodate some movement is crucial. That is why we always recommend working with timber experts who are well-experienced in Oak movement to design your frame.

If you have any further questions, our team at EcoChoice will always be happy to help, so do not hesitate to reach out. As suppliers of sustainable timber, we understand the importance of sourcing well-dried Oak, and are always ready to chat about your next order.

Image: rsooll / Shutterstock.com

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Oak frames and shrinking

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