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Wood expanding when wet

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  • KweeglyKweegly Posts: 98

    Its all going wrong image

    We had really heavy rain over night and when I woke up this morning the right gate in the picture had all the middle beams bowed out through expansion. It was so tight I could force them back in with vice clamps. In then end I decided to remove one beam to allow room to clamp the others back into place.

    I have also gone out and purchased some tarpaulin to cover the gate from further rain until I can treat them. One saving grace is the frames where so tight when the gate was closed they couldn't expand and break the mortise and tenden joints, obviously this caused the gate to bow forward pushing the beams out.

    My big concern now is how it will dry, I have clamped large beams across both gates top and bottom to prevent the frame warping.

    The middle beams are just glued into the frame with a back brace also glue holding them in place, this has failed as the beams bowed forward. I don't know if its worth tacking them into the frame once the gate has dried?

  • I'm so sorry to hear it's going further wrong. Unfortunately, it sounds like a start again job, I'm afraid. If you do start again, you will be much better off using pre treated tannalised or pressure treated timber. Also it's advisable to attach the tongued and grooved boards, to the diagonal braces, using serrated nails. It's not cheating, the professionals do it. You can then sink the heads using a nail punch and disguise them with waterproof wood filler.

    Best of luck. 

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    And do not re-hang the gates until they have dried out completely (indoors) and been treated with several coats of preservative/varnish. A good one.
  • KT53KT53 South WestPosts: 7,303

    It sounds as if the rain has penetrated the timber and the timber will almost certainly twist when it dries.  The probability of all the timber contracting again at the same rate is almost nil. You really need to use pressure treated timber for outside work.

  • KweeglyKweegly Posts: 98

    I guess its a waiting game now image I have clamped everything tight covered it all with tarpaulin. Hopefully the clamps will reduce the warping as the gates dry.

    I'm going to take the advice from you all when they are dried out and rebuild better a stronger!

  • Mark 499Mark 499 Posts: 380

    You must have room for expansion between the individual boards & the boards must never be glued to the frame they will always expand & contract with the weather no amount of varnish will prevent movement. In the winter things will be even worse, best start again.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,047

    I've never thought of using glue on outdoor timber. All my gates are done with screws or nails just like the raised beds etc, and made with pressure treated timber.  Even then, as Mark says, there's always a bit of expansion in wet weather so you need to allow for that too.

    Looks like you'll have to go back to the beginning Kweegly. What a shame after all your hard work  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • KweeglyKweegly Posts: 98

    The wood was tanalised, is that pressure treated? I did give the gates a light sand to smooth them over.

  • The short answer is yes. However, cutting the timber exposes raw wood and, depending on the depth of the treatment even sanding or planing will reduce it's effectiveness. As Welshonion said, when you have rebuilt the gates make sure you apply plenty of treatment and let it dry BEFORE hanging them. You must make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies and treat any cut ends or you will be back to square one.

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