Oak beams are a wonderful building material to say the least, but they are a living natural product so of course they come with a variation of factors that need to be thought about when purchasing them.
The main question we get while selling oak beams is..."Will they move?"
The short answer to this, is yes.
However, how much they move can be addressed.
Fresh sawn oak beams, or "Green"oak beams have been used for centuries in building of all manor of shapes and sizes, so are very capable and well tested. Fresh sawn beams are beams that have been cut from trees and are used almost immediately, this means they still have a very high sap moisture content from when they were a living tree.
Moisture content on fresh sawn oak beams can be in excess of 75%
The drying process of the sap moisture is what makes the oak beams move/split and settle. Oak beams will dry from the outside inwards causing them to twist, bend and open up with splits or "shakes".
When green oak beams are used for framing however this is thought about in the design of the frame and where the beams will be used. Traditional oak framing uses joints that are designed to tighten with the movement of the oak beam, creating a stronger, longer lasting structure. We know this to be true as oak framing has been dated as for hundreds, if not thousands of years. If its worked for such an amount of time... it must be ok!
"But I want to install an oak beam that wont move?"
This is absolutely fine, and is where air dried oak beams come in .
Our air dried oak beams have been sawn from the tree and left to stand, properly "sticked and stacked" for over 5 years. Some beams have been drying for in excess of 15 years!
The beams have been drying and settling naturally and can be as low as 20% moisture content!
We are not saying these beams will not move, as there is no guarantee with a natural product. However this does mean simply that they can be used for anything from a fireplace mantel, to a full frames house, knowing that the movement of the beams once installed will be down to a minimum.
This piece of mind, along with how stunning and characterful air dried oak beams are is the true benefit of using them.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or come and see our huge stock of beautiful air dried oak beams.