Whether it be a courthouse, performing arts center, or luxury mixed-use, millwork and other high-end finishes can make or break a design and budget. If not installed under proper environmental conditions, the aesthetics, function, and value of using the materials can be compromised.
Wood is a hygroscopic material, meaning that it absorbs and releases moisture from the air. When temperature and humidity fluctuate, the wood expands and contracts. This is called wood movement. Too much wood movement can lead to damage or quality issues.
Properly monitoring and controlling construction spaces can minimize the impact of dimensional changes in wood. Specifically, when real-time monitoring is used to automatically control climate control equipment ON/OFF the approach is very effective. Not only is an actively managed system able to maintain spec conditions more precisely, but it also has the potential to use less energy than rental equipment alone. In addition, an integrated system can alert stakeholders if conditions are falling outside these tolerances and deliver reports for documentation purposes.
When creating the ideal climate, it is important to adhere to the specific climate zone applicable to the product to help reduce defects. Many projects or manufacturers will specify conditions for the best results and may even require it for warranties. Specs might also be based on recommendations from industry organizations. For example, The Architectural Woodwork Institute provides the following tolerances for wood moisture content and relative humidity.
Source: Architectural Woodwork Institute
Best Practices for Protecting Millwork
While monitoring and controlling conditions during installation are critical, your team should take great care in other areas too. Consider these best practices throughout the construction phase to protect your millwork.
- Prior to installation, the product should be stored on a flat, level, clean surface, elevated off the floor, and protected from sunlight, excessive heat, cold, moisture, and humidity variations.
- Monitoring should be installed to verify and document that specifications are being maintained.
- Acclimation of the product to the installation environment for at least 72 hours is necessary.
- The temperature should be maintained between 60-90°F, and relative humidity should remain within acceptable ranges.
- The wet work should be dry, overhead work complete, and the area cleaned with a broom.
- Proper maintenance and protection measures should be followed to prevent compacted dents, heat damage, dust accumulation, moisture exposure, sunlight-induced color changes, and improper use of the product.
- Cover all vents and registers in the construction area with plastic sheeting or high-efficiency filters. This will help to prevent dust from entering the HVAC system.
- Operate the temporary climate control system during commissioning to limit extreme changes in temperature and humidity.
Polygon's expertise in designing, installing, and managing temporary climate control, air filtration, and remote monitoring solutions makes us an ideal partner in construction projects involving millwork and other high-end finishes. Our proactive remote monitoring approach, coupled with autonomous equipment control, helps clients effectively manage millwork specifications, accelerate drying processes, and meet budget and sustainability goals.
Reach out to us to learn how to use this technology on your next project.