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Thread: Acclimating T&G Pine Before Installation

  1. #1
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    Acclimating T&G Pine Before Installation

    I'm installing 1x6 v-groove tongue & groove pine on the ceiling of my off-grid cabin, and having the lumber delivered from the yard this week (700sq. ft. of it). Considering I don't have a temperature control system/heat/AC/electricity at the cabin, what would be the best practice to acclimate the wood before install. Current forecast for the next couple weeks has temps as high as 77 and as low as 37. Relative humidity is around 40% inside the cabin right now, but that'll likely change up and down.

    Should I sticker it inside? Leave it in bundles? Bother waiting for it to acclimate at all, considering the somewhat extreme condition fluctuations?

    Thank for your help. It would be a nightmare if this wood got ruined by warping before I could put it all up.
    Last edited by Andrew Pow; 09-21-2020 at 9:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    I’d say sticker it and run a dehumidifier for a few weeks. When I did my ceiling — cypress— I stained and poly’ed it before it was hung

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cooper View Post
    I’d say sticker it and run a dehumidifier for a few weeks. When I did my ceiling — cypress— I stained and poly’ed it before it was hung
    No electricity, so no dehumidifier. I have a generator, but currently only spend weekends there so I wouldn't be able to (or want to) run it constantly.

  4. #4
    What is the moisture content of the wood being delivered? Kiln dried or something else? If it’s kiln dried I would leave space at the perimeter for expansion, especially in the direction of board width.

    I would be more concerned with the present moisture content than acclimating. You’re going to have big swings in temperature and humidity, so build for expansion (and contraction).

    Personally, I would rather install KD material in a 40% RH environment than bring green lumber into a dry environment.

    Are you sealing this wood? If so, seal all sides before installing. You don’t want one side taking on moisture while the other is sealed.

    Also, consider the conditions in which this material is presently stored. Most lumber yards around here don’t store their wood in a climate controlled warehouse. It may already be acclimated in other words.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Eric. All good points and questions. The wood is kiln dried, though I'm not sure of the storage conditions at the lumber yard or moisture content - I'll certainly be measuring that when it arrives. I'm leaving the wood unfinished, no sealing on any side.

  6. #6
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    Nail it up ASAP. Lumber like that could easily be 19% and sitting around will make installation a real chore with long bows in the wood. I would suggest applying the finish before installation as just seasonal movement will reveal a color difference on the tongue when it shrinks. There is even a good chance you will have to cut the length in half as some boards will have already moved. Edge knots don't help that stuff stay straight at all. Unless you ordered clear stock of course.

  7. #7
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    Depends on your climate not the weather this week. Will humidity be below 20% or more then 65% lots of the time? Will it freeze inside the cabin in winter. Sounds like it may if you are in the northern Hemisphere where it is starting to cool now. If it is spring down there then freezing is probably not an issue.
    Bil lD

  8. #8
    I actually have vast experience with off grid/building my own cabin in a far north climate. I lived and built my home for over 24 yrs without electricity. Only difference is my ceilings are aspen. Since you know they are kiln dried, leave them in bundles. Only open them when you have time to put them up. I have massive extremes in humidity. Heavy humidity in summer, and drier than a desert in the winter at 40 below zero& a woodstove going 24/7. I put mine up and never put any finish on them at all. They have darkened some and look fabulous after what is now 35 yrs. None have cracked or turned into pretzels. I did tho leave 1/4 inch gap all around the ceiling. Didn't get trim on for years, and I never saw the ceiling move into that 1/4 inch gap.
    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning, the devil says, "oh crap she's up!"


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  9. #9
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    Forget about acclimatizing it, what you are trying to do with this stuff is construction so different rules. Once you undo the straps, it starts moving, so install right away, like Richard said. Once installed, it's range of movement is limited so it won't matter if it moves. It is fairly flexible stuff though, so when you inevitably end up trying to put up a board with a long warp, you can usually bend it into place. It'll find it's equilibrium while hanging on the ceiling.

  10. #10
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    I've put up thousands of square feet of it. "Nail it before it rots", as the saying goes. It also really doesn't need a finish for a ceiling. I've built houses with it that sold for over a million dollars with unfinished YP on the ceilings. We have it in our house, and there's never been any finish on it.

    edited to add: Picture is sideways, but is in our house, now 40 years old
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
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    Let it acclimate and if possible, install on a warmer/more humid day. That permits it to shrink slightly when it's colder/dryer which works well since the groove side can be left to float on the tongue of the adjacent piece.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
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    I would take the plastic off but leave it banded so it does not warp as it dries and a climates to the cabin. I would wait a month or so for the weather to warm up closer to the summer season you will be using this unheated cabin. You hit spring just this week so give it some time to warm up.
    Bil lD

  13. #13
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    Wow, lots of different opinions in here. Thanks for the insight, especially from those who have installed a lot of this stuff. I'll likely keep it packaged inside the cabin and just open when I'm ready to install (which will probably be in two weeks).

    Bill, if your location really is California, I think you have your seasons backwards. I'm in Rochester, NY. It just hit fall, and is only going to get colder here in the northeast.

  14. #14
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    I use a 2-1/4, or 2-1/2" finish nail shot from a nailgun, right above the tongue. I used it in every new house I built one of for each of 33 years. We used to be able to buy it off the rack from local mill/suppliers, in any normal length. It was cheap then, but people always loved it here on the lake. I would say it's a safe bet that I've put up over 50,000 feet of the stuff.

    Sometimes you will need to help to one pull up tightly to the last one. I'd screw a block to a joist/rafter up the wall a ways, use a lever stick, and a push stick that can be cut shorter as needed, as you work your way across the ceiling. Pull the lever with one hand, and shoot the nail with the other. Cut some of your scrap pieces to use the groove as part of the pusher, so you don't bruise the V. There are commercial tools for the job, but they don't really save a whole lot of time, and for one job, I wouldn't bother to buy anything special.

  15. #15
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    I guess I'll toss one more question in here while I have your attention. The T&G is not end matched, and I was planning on straight butt joints throughout the install. I know most expansion/contraction will happen across the width of the boards and I'll be nailing close to all the joints, so this should be enough to ensure large gaps don't appear, right? Keep in mind this is a "rustic" cabin, so joints don't have to be perfect or invisible.

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