Tag Archives: lumber storage

LVL: I Woodn’t Use It

I Woodn’t Use It (pun intended)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with LVLs (Laminated Veneer Lumber) here is a good primer:


For the thousands of my regular daily readers, you know Justine well – she is the one who makes sure all of the good stuff arrives at client’s jobsites when they are supposed to, and in the condition intended.

Black LVLJust the other day she forwards me a photo of what appears to be an LVL which spent too much time on the beach with me in Ecuador. In lumber terms, “It is sunburned”. As Justine asked me, “Black Lumber”?

I was able to find (courtesy of https://www.internationalbeams.com) the correct storage procedures for LVLs:

  • LVL should be protected from the weather and stored lying flat.
  • Product must not be stored in contact with the ground.
  • Store LVL in wrapped bundles, provide air circulation and support
    bundles with 2×4 stickers.
  • On the job site, protect from the weather both before and after
    installation. LVL is intended for use in covered, dry conditions only.
  • Do not install wet or visually damaged product.

I will admit it was really difficult to find “expert” opinions on whether to use this LVL or not.  Is it still structurally sound?  So I thought I would share a few “less than expert” opinions I found on various message boards on the ‘net:

“I would pay close attention to the layers to make sure they are still holding tight. LVL beams are GLUED together, if enough moisture gets in there the glue could start peeling apart making the beam considerably weaker. I wouldn’t take my chances unless I knew it never got wet.”


I would have to see it, but if there is no rot or mold growing on the beam, I would still use them. Few months outside just seasons the wood.”

 And my favorite (this is pretty scientific, so hold on):

“If the LVL got wet enough to swell up and then they dried out and show any sign of delamination, they lose a lot of strength. I tested this, they break much easier. If they just weathered, they should be ok. If you have a new piece of LVL, Cut a test piece, drive a car or tractor over it to see what it takes to break it. Do the same test with a weathered piece.”

My advice to Justine was, “I would ask the supplier to either replace it, or to provide a letter from the company which manufactured it, to confirm it is adequate to be used structurally.”

Lumber Storage Pole Building

Hansen Buildings’ Designer Bob was out visiting a lumber yard recently, and he (being one who always keeps his eyes peeled) noticed a pole building design he had not seen before.

Post frame construction yields itself easily to a myriad of different designs, many of which could not easily be done with other construction types.

lumber storage pole buildingFor proper lumber storage, the units of lumber need to be kept out of rain and snow, yet there should be sufficient airflow to keep excess moisture build up. Even with wrapped units of kiln dried lumber, excess moisture can cause mold issues on the lumber.

Opened lumber units, or those which were never paper wrapped, can quickly “sun tan” (turn brown) if not protected from the weather.

It is also convenient to be able to access both sides of the lumber storage building with a forklift. To give the greatest flexibility for lengths of materials, it is even better if there are no posts in the way along the sidewalls.

The solution is the center post pole barn. This type of pole building features a single row of widely spaced columns down the center of the building only. No posts are in the way to prevent easy access to lumber. Prefabricated wood roof trusses are designed with center bearings only and cantilevers on both sides.

Due to the uplift forces and potential of unbalanced snow loading, it is essential these buildings have a Registered Design Professional (RDP = architect or engineer) involved in their structural design.

Even though the lumber storage buildings have open sidewalls, it is a good idea to have a reflective insulation condensation barrier between the roof purlins and the roof steel, as condensation can and will occur on the underside of the roof steel.

Water Your Lawn, Not Your Lumber

Lumber is considered to be dry when it reaches a moisture content of 19% or less. When below this threshold, it becomes relatively dimensionally stable.  More importantly, it is naturally resistant to mold and other fungi which will attack wood. When lumber is rained upon, or allowed to sit in mud or puddles, it can gain moisture to above the “dry” point. In as little as 48 hours after getting wet, mold can begin to form on lumber. While a small amount of mold will not usually have an effect on the strength of the lumber, the stains are unsightly.

Green Lumber

Green lumber ready to be dried

Ideally lumber is used promptly after delivery. Otherwise, store in a cool, dry location, avoiding direct sunlight and preferably indoors where humidity variations will be minimal.

Unlike green lumber, keep kiln or air-dried lumber away from moisture, or product may lose the value added by careful seasoning. Dry lumber which becomes saturated with water, such as from rain, melting snow or contact with wet ground, can lose dimensional stability, warp and otherwise deteriorate. Lumber exposed to alternate wetting and drying will check, split, warp and discolor.

If stored outdoors, keep dried lumber off the ground and protected by paper, wrapping, tarpaulins, or canvas. Paper wrapping offers short-term protection.  If it gets torn, repair immediately. Dilapidated wrapping which holds rainwater may increase moisture regain more than if the lumber had no protection.

Air flow is the most important factor in outside lumber storage. Allow large volumes air to circulate freely around stacked lumber in order to evaporate moisture from the lumber. Provide an open storage area with no trees or buildings blocking air flow. Remove weeds, grasses and other vegetation around lumber as they harbor insects and fungal spores.

Good water drainage in storage area is important. Standing water adds to humidity which increases mold and stain possibility on lumber.

When lumber is stacked on stickers (also known as dunnage), place stickers in perfect vertical alignment with one another. Otherwise, sagging will occur. Solid stacked lumber is often stored in packaged units bound with tie straps (or banding) for easier handling. Separate stacked units by spacers, usually at least 4”, and aligned with lower stickers to prevent sagging.

Storing lumber under a roof offers better protection by keeping material dry and bright.

Mold growth on framing lumber is common. To retard or eliminate growth, spray with a borate solution, which is nontoxic to mammals, but highly toxic to most wood fungi. Termites also have a distaste of borate treated lumber.

Following these simple steps can greatly reduce problems caused by allowing moisture to infiltrate and ruin what once was, beautiful lumber.