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Give Time for Rough Lumber to Dry Out

If small cracks appear in the drywalls or floor tiles of newly built homes, most homeowners would immediately point to defects in the foundations as the cause. Some of them could be correct, but the others could be blaming the wrong culprit.

Homes built with relatively large amount of wood could undergo extensive rough lumber shrinkage that could cause cracks in several surfaces. Shrinkage occurs when moisture inside the wood is released.

Rough Lumber Dimensions

If your house is built with traditional rough lumber sized 2 x 10 or 2 x 12, there is a good chance that these lumber pieces would lose moisture and undergo shrinkage. The shrinkage would not significantly affect the length of the lumber. Shrinkage would occur across the width of the lumber.

For example, you used a lot of rough lumber sized 2 x 4 and 10 feet long. From the time the lumber products were delivered to you to the time they were used to build your home, the dimensions could still be 2 x4 by to feet long. After some months of living in your home, you begin to see small cracks in some parts of your floor or your wall.

If you will investigate further the lumber pieces, you would discover that the lengths of the lumber are still the same, 10 feet long. You measure the thickness of the lumber and you could still make out 2 inches. But you will be surprised with the change in the width of the lumber. You could find 1/2 to 3/8 inch is gone. If you used a lumber of 12-inch width, the shrinkage could have been larger.

Drying-Out Time

To minimize the effects of lumber shrinkage, talk with your contractor about slowing down the finishing processes. Your builder could have a different viewpoint. He has to complete your house to comply with his timeframe. He could also have his own insights about shrinkage. But rough lumber shrinkage is real. Rough lumber must be allowed to dry out. Shrinkage of even less than an inch in most of your lumber would cause cracks in your ceramic tiles, countertops and walls and screaks and creaks in your staircases and second-level flooring.