Originally published on the WoodWorks website

In wood-frame buildings of three or more stories, cumulative shrinkage can be significant and have an impact on the function and performance of finishes, openings, mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems, and structural connections. However, as more designers look to wood-frame construction to improve the cost and sustainability of their mid-rise projects, many have learned that accommodating wood shrinkage is actually very straightforward.

Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it has the ability to absorb and release moisture. As this occurs, it also has the potential to change dimensionally. Knowing how and where wood shrinks and swells helps designers detail their buildings to minimize related effects.

Wood shrinkage occurs perpendicular to grain, meaning that a solid sawn wood stud or floor joist will shrink in its crosssection dimensions (width and depth). Longitudinal shrinkage is negligible, meaning the length of a stud or floor joist will essentially remain unchanged. In multi-story buildings, wood shrinkage is therefore concentrated at the wall plates, floor and roof joists, and rim boards. Depending on the materials and details used at floor-to-wall and roof-to-wall intersections, shrinkage in light-frame wood construction can range from 0.05 inches to 0.5 inches per level.

This publication will describe procedures for estimating wood shrinkage and provide detailing options that minimize its effects on building performance.

Continue reading on the WoodWorks website.

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