With winter on its way we often get asked how the cold weather effects wood, well in fact all weather and climate change effect wood. Wood is an incredible material to work with and can be used to produce everything from core structures of construction in homes, to general household items like furniture, kitchen worktops and even artwork. As wood is a natural product, weather and temperature changes can always be a factor, but of course there are multiple other variants including the type of timber and changes in moisture content.
When considering the environment where your wooden item will reside, choosing the right timber for the project is essential and will determine the success of your finished item. Choosing a suitable wood for indoors or outdoors is also important consideration for its suitability and resistance to certain conditions. This article will focus on how the winter and cold seasons can affect wood.
Simply, No. Of course there are many different types of timber in both hardwood and softwood and cold weather can effect them in different ways, but one thing is certain, timber does not expand in cold temperatures, it does the opposite, it shrinks. The level of shrinkage depends on the moisture content within the wood.
With all changes in weather conditions, timber products can be affected, even if they have been stained or treated but in general if there is not a rapid change in temperature from high to low, then well treated and prepared furniture should not be significantly or even noticeably effected by cold temperatures. If wooden furniture is subjected to rapid and continued drops in temperature the wood can shrink, crack and even creak.
The answer to this is yes they can. As temperatures drop the moisture content in the timber can cause doors to shrink, slightly, it would be quite normal not to notice any shrinkage in the doors as it will be minimal compared to summer seasons, when in hot weather doors can expand and often are harder to close and stick when opened, which is more noticeable. As timber is a natural product there is no need to concerned about expanding or shrinking, even though cracking noises can be scary to here its just the timber naturally moving in most cases.
We always recommend taking time to choose the best timber for the project you are working on as timber is a natural product and the results can vary based on the moisture content, workability, durability and the ability to take stains and treatments. In general wood can shrink in the winter due to the moisture content and atmospheric changes. If treated well, the correct timber will last a very long time before any crack could appear due to cold weather.