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What is air dried oak?

30th July 2019

The seasoning of air dried oak

Air dried oak is typically cut to size and stored away from the elements allowing it to dry, and season over a long period of time. The drying process takes moisture out of the wood and gives it the natural, rustic look and feel that many people love. Over the years of aging the oak will develop a natural aged look and can crack, twist and split all adding to the character of the wood.

A common misconception is that the cracks, splits and twists harm the structural integrity of the wood however this isn’t the case and actually dried oak can often be stronger than other materials. The length of time needed to air dry oak is dependent on the thickness and can typically take anywhere from three to ten years for moisture levels to drop to around 25% which is deemed acceptable for use. Some of our air dried oak at UK Oak has been aging for more than 15 years.


Why air dried oak might be right for you

Air dried oak is timeless and simple to maintain. By hand or using machine tools, the appearance is easy to maintain which makes it suitable for many projects or builds. Using our years of experience and wealth of knowledge, we’ve outlined below the most popular projects we see air dried oak used in:  


Restoration projects

Its character and structural qualities gives it a timeless appeal, which blends into aged properties and makes it an ideal solution for restoration projects



We commonly see dried oak being a choice for interior decor and flooring. It’s low maintenance and solid build make it hardwearing and durable. Other interior uses that are common include; fireplace mantels and furniture.


Structural beams

The low levels of moisture ensure minimal movement or change once installed which gives air dried oak great structural qualities and a great benefit to most builds. It can also be made to most dimensions making it a very versatile building material.


Air dried vs. kiln dried

Kiln dried wood uses heat in order to speed up the ageing process, which reduces the moisture content through applying a dry heat. This can have its pitfalls, which include instability due to inconsistent heating that unfortunately can make the wood more brittle and harder to work with. For some purposes however, the higher moisture content is a benefit for example when making furniture and intricate designs due to it being slightly softer and easier to work with.

At UK Oak, we are specialists in English (quercus robur) and European oak, the drying process and most importantly helping our customers choose the right wood for their project, if you have any questions or want to find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01536 267 107.


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