Kiln Dried vs. Green Timber: Understanding the Differences and Their Applications

Choosing the Right Timber for Your Project's Needs
April 27, 2023 by
Kiln Dried vs. Green Timber: Understanding the Differences and Their Applications
Gabriel I Mease
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When selecting custom timber for your construction project, it's essential to understand the differences between kiln-dried and green lumber. Each type offers unique characteristics and benefits, making them suitable for various applications. In this article, we will discuss the differences between kiln-dried and green timber, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to choose the right one for your project.

Kiln-Dried: Enhanced Stability and Lower Moisture Content

Kiln-dried timber is lumber that has undergone a controlled drying process in a kiln to reduce its moisture content. This process offers several advantages:

Stability: Kiln-dried timber is less prone to warping, twisting, and shrinking due to its reduced moisture content. This stability makes it ideal for applications requiring precise dimensions and consistent structural integrity, such as cabinetry, flooring, or trim work.

Reduced Weight: The drying process removes excess moisture from the wood, resulting in a lighter product that is easier to handle and transport.

Improved Workability: Kiln-dried timber is typically easier to cut, sand, and finish than green lumber, allowing for smoother and more precise results.

Pest Resistance: The high temperatures used in the kiln-drying process can kill any insects present in the wood, reducing the risk of infestation in the final product.

Pitch Control: If a tree has experienced extreme winds, there may be damage to the inside of the tree where sap (or pitch) develops to heal the tree. It is impossible to know exactly where these pitch pockets exist and in some cases as the timber dries, it can crack and leak the sap out. Although every effort is made ahead of time to mitigate this concern, kiln drying guarantees that any pitch inside the tree will become crystalized due to the heat from the kiln drying process.  

However, kiln-dried timber is more expensive than green lumber due to the additional processing, handling, and energy costs involved in the drying process.

Green Timber: Cost-Effective and Environmentally Friendly

Green timber, also known as "fresh-cut" or "undried" lumber, is wood that has not undergone a drying process after being harvested. It retains its natural moisture content, offering several benefits:

Cost-Effectiveness: Green timber is generally less expensive than kiln-dried lumber, as it does not require the additional processing and energy costs associated with kiln drying.

Environmentally Friendly: The use of green timber reduces the overall energy consumption and carbon footprint of your project, making it a more environmentally sustainable option.

Flexibility: Green timber is often more flexible than kiln-dried lumber, allowing for easier bending and shaping. This characteristic can be advantageous for projects requiring curved or uniquely shaped components.

However, green timber may be more prone to warping, twisting, and shrinking as it dries over time. Additionally, it can be more challenging to work with due to its higher moisture content and increased weight.

Choosing the Right Timber for Your Project

When deciding between kiln-dried and green timber, consider the specific requirements and priorities of your project:

  • If dimensional stability, reduced weight, and improved workability are essential, kiln-dried timber may be the better choice.

  • If cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability are your primary concerns, green timber could be a more suitable option.

  • It's also essential to consider the specific timber species, as some species may perform better in certain applications, regardless of their moisture content.


Understanding the differences between kiln-dried and green timber will help you make an informed decision for your construction project. By considering the advantages and disadvantages of each type, as well as your project's unique requirements, you can select the ideal timber for your specific needs. At Montana Custom Beams, we offer a wide range of timber products, including kiln-dried and green options, to suit various applications. Contact us today to discuss your timber needs and let our team of experts guide you in choosing the perfect solution for your project.

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