Our business is founded on transparency and guaranteed quality, reflected in the systems put in place and the individuals involved. There is no limit to the time and accuracy at which the kiln drying process is carried out by Tom, owner of UK Hardwoods. Tom’s high level of personal interest in the process maintains the quality of our extra wide solid wood flooring that we are famous for.
Our Devon wood floors are first slowly seasoned, taking 12-18 months air drying prior to entering the kiln. A slow drying process is important for all of our products but is crucial for the extra wide solid wood flooring. Having seasoned the boards, they are then dried in our renewable energy kiln, which holds up to 67 cubic metres of timber.
The kiln had been loaded approximately two weeks ago, and in these latter stages of drying, it is important to keep a close eye on the moisture content of the timber inside. Checking the kiln statistics twice a day in these final stages ensures the extra wide plank wood flooring dries evenly. The kilning cycle is monitored closely with software systems in place to accurately determine the humidity and ventilation levels throughout the cycle. To record the timber’s moisture content, we take a sample population of boards from all areas of the kiln. We use a ‘pin type’ moisture metre, a small device with two electrodes which measures the moisture content of the timber using electronic resistance. As water conducts electricity, but wood doesn’t, the metre determines a percentage resistance to the electric current being emitted. The more resistance there is, the dryer the timber. The correct moisture content for our solid wood flooring is between 10-12%.
The ability to accurately measure the moisture content of the boards is critical for us to craft our wood flooring here in Devon, as well as our other joinery timber. When our Devon wood floors are laid in your home, your boards will be at 11%, which is the relative moisture content for the average home the UK. Timber is a hygroscopic material, meaning it has the ability to hold onto, through absorption, the water molecules in the air. Kiln drying the timber brings it down to household moisture levels. Once kiln dried, we keep the flooring in our climate controlled shed, which controls both humidity and temperature. We always specify that all building works and screeds etc are completely dry before laying our flooring, so that it can be delivered from one typical house humidity level at the workshop, to another in your home.
Having moisture tested enough boards, and being satisfied with the results, we set about removing the boards in their packs. Each pack consists of boards of the same thickness, length, species and source woodland. We use a tagging system on the packs which enables us to have complete transparency determining where each board has come from and the story behind our Devon wood floors. We roll out the stacks of timber along rails and unload the boards, ready for the next process. We then load the kiln with air dried stock, averaging 20% moisture content, and rail in the kiln for the next cycle to be repeated.
We are devoted to maintaining a sustainable process at the timber yard. All the energy that runs the kiln is from renewable energy sources. The kiln uses heat produced from our on-site biomass boiler, which uses our waste wood chip from the sawing process. To achieve an even spread of heat and ventilation throughout the kiln, we use fans which are run from electricity produced from our on-site solar farm.
Visit the process page to view our video describing our sustainable processes.
You are more than welcome to come and visit our site where we can explain the kilning process in detail. We’re open any Tuesday or Thursday morning, simply contact us to let us know you will be dropping in.