Keeping wood good

Keeping wood good

ARTICLE  · By Camilla Hair · 03 April 2020 

Timber and wood products are normally thought of as pretty robust yet in periods of temporary site shut-down it’s timber that needs the most preparation so that it’s in as good a condition as possible for the return to work.   

Timber Trade Federation members include some of the biggest builders merchant groups and wood product manufacturers.  Some of them have offered us their advice on a range of different products and how best to store them.   

Advice from builders’ merchants 

 Paul Pennick, Timber Product Manager at MKM Building Supplies feels protection is key to maintaining packs of timber in good condition on site:   

 Don’t leave timber on the ground, or in direct sunlight, or unprotected from heavy rain. Keep all protective wrapping on but ensure there is a good air flow so as not to trap moisture around the wood.   

If some packs are already opened then spend some time remaking the stacks to protect the outer layers,” MKM’s Paul Pennick advises.   

Gary Froggatt, Forest Products & Joinery Category Manager at Howarth Timber & Building Supplies reminds builders to wear the appropriate PPE when dealing with timber products and offers advice on storing some of the most frequently-used products on site:   

“For fencing panels and loose timbers, store them horizontally in a location where there’s adequate ventilation and good air flow. Bearers should be on level ground and evenly-spaced, placed to ensure minimal deflection, and ideally at not less than 600mm centres.  

Avoid direct contact between the products and any temporary wrap, otherwise moisture may bead and discolour the products,” Howarth’s Gary Froggatt advises.   

“For floorings and casings, protect them by storing in containers where they’re not exposed to the elements; store them indoors to minimise them picking up moisture,” Gary Froggatt continues.   

Timber is a valuable commodity and it’s difficult to trace ownership therefore give the most valuable items the best storage resources. Consider site security and access, perhaps with remote camera monitoring and movement detectors,” Howarth’s Garry Froggatt adds.   

Advice from manufacturers 

 TTF members manufacturing key building and interior products are also offering advice.  On the storage of MDF mouldings, popular with builders for time-saving installations, Simon Fleet, Commercial Director of manufacturer W.Howard Group comments:  

“We recommend that our Wrapped MDF Profiles are stored in dry, well-ventilated conditions to reduce the risk of absorbing moisture. The profiles should be stacked on a minimum of four bearers, and any protective wrapping should be left in place until the time of use. 

 “Particular care must be taken when stacking the product face to face, and during transportation, as even slight friction or sliding can cause damage to the decorative surface. This is especially important when handling and storing fully finished items, says W.Howard Group’s Simon Fleet. 

MEDITE SMARTPLY manufactures many sheet materials commonly used in the building trade. Their Technical Department’s spokesperson offered advice on maintaining sheet materials in good condition. 

If possible, packs of sheet materials should stay strapped with the packaging undamaged.

Even products which would normally be stacked on site waiting for use need a bit of extra care.   

Marley manufactures both roofing battens (tiling battens or slatings) and decking, including slip-resist decking.   

Laura Qualters, National Technical Manager at Marley Ltd, relates how best to store both of these products on site temporarily shut-down:   

Roofing battens need protection but in particular they need to be well-lathed (supported) to prevent sagging and aid ventilation.   

Anti-slip decking should be stacked face to face (grit to grit) and then lathed on alternate rows.”    

The Return to Work 

 When sites re-open, what are they key points for builders to remember?   

 “Rotate the stock and use the older materials first,” advises MKM Building Supplies’ Paul Pennick.   

 MEDITE SMARTPLY’s Technical Department spokesperson says sheet materials need ‘conditioning’ before use. Strapping and plastic wrap should be removed from all unitsA minimum of 3-4 days conditioning is recommended to allow the panels to reach equilibrium moisture content with its surroundings.  

 This can only be achieved if air is allowed to move freely over both surfaces to reduce the risk of the boards warping.   

 This can be accomplished by sticking each panel while in a stack with suitable wood laths or spacers. The storage area for conditioning should be much the same as for longer storage.   

Keeping things in proportion 

Howarth Timber & Building Supplies’ Gary Froggatt has one succinct last piece of advice for buildersLife is more important than materials. Stay safe, protect the NHS and follow government advice.”