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Things to know about oak framing – Part 1

November 2, 2016

There’s not much we don’t know about oak framing here at Welsh Oak Frame, so we thought we’d share 3 things that you may, or may not know. Read on for more details…

1.Oak shrinks naturally

The first few years after construction, an oak frame can shrink by as much as 5%, due to the material gradually losing moisture. This is a completely natural process that occurs and it is important to understand that this won’t weaken the structure. In fact, oak is high density and actually gets stronger as it dries; it is even said to have a strength/weight ratio superior to steel, which makes it a perfect material for framing, due to its load-bearing capabilities.

When the oak frame shrinks, cracks and splits occur, which are also known as ‘shakes’, and these similarly have no effect on the strength of the structure, in fact it adds character to it. Although these splits occur naturally, if the oak frame is closed in too quickly alongside a heat source, this can form quite dramatic splits that again have no impact on the structure, but can look unsightly and possibly lead to air or water ingress.

2.Forget about finishing

One of the great things about using oak frame is that it does not require finishing, and over time, contact with sunshine naturally turns the green oak to a stunning silvery grey colour. Even though many people appreciate the look of this change in colour, there is still the option to use treatments such as Sikkens or Osmo and wax oils to preserve the natural colour of the green oak, depending on your preference. The inside of an oak frame home also changes colour to a beautiful honey tone due to oxidisation.

We would advise self builders to take extra care in rooms subject to high levels of humidity and in spaces where splashes may be more prevalent, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Water stains can mark oak frames, so it may be worth oiling the frame in particular rooms for added protection.

3.Cleaning is key

It is important to know that oak must be cleaned once it has been constructed. There are often marks left from the building process which cannot be avoided, including water marks known as ‘blue-ing’ that occur when the oak touches any steel used in construction. Also tannin leaches out of the oak which is a natural process but will stop as the oak dries out.

Some self-builders make the decision to cut costs by cleaning their new oak frame themselves, however there are specialists who offer this service. Although cleaning the oak yourself can reduce costs, it’s important to consider how time consuming this process may be and also the strict safety guidelines that should be followed. The normal process for cleaning oak is by using oxalic acid or sandblasting. Albeit a very messy task, it is a much softer method that preserves the natural character of the oak.

Keep a look out for our next oak frame post – in the meantime if you have any questions please get in touch on 01686 688000 or visit us on Facebook @WelshOakFrame.