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How Do You Store Lumber Vertically?

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Lumber prices are through the roof. In recent months, people have started paying attention to the cost of lumber like no other time in modern history.

The pandemic and disruptions to global supply chains have made lumber and other goods more scarce.

Knowing how valuable lumber is and how prices are going up, it’s important to store the lumber you have and any new lumber you buy properly. We get a lot of questions about lumber storage, particularly vertical storage.

How do you store lumber vertically?

Lumber that’s stored vertically should be kept off of the ground to prevent water damage. Additionally, all pieces should be supported on the bottom and the top to stop pieces from bowing and warping while they are stored.

Carpenter worker choosing raw wood material for the work

Also, you can use carts to keep small pieces in to keep them safe and in good condition.

If you are looking for some storage solutions to protect your lumber for your next project, you’re in the right place! Here are some tips you can use to make sure your lumber will last.

How to Store Lumber Vertically

First, no matter what configuration you’re using to store lumber, any pieces you have should be kept in places that are cool and dry.

Leaving lumber exposed to humidity or too much heat can damage the pieces enough to change their dimensions.

Do your best to keep them somewhere cool and dry. Also, somewhere shaded is ideal.

If you’re keeping any lumber outside, make sure it’s covered.

A lot of people like to keep lumber vertical because it takes up less space in places like a garage, shed, or basement. Placing them horizontally will drastically limit the space you have to walk around or get work done.

Vertical storage solutions let you keep more lumber in traditional spaces with roofs.

Bowing and water damage are the main concerns when storing lumber vertically.

If you simply place lumber pieces leaning against a wall, for example, any water that gets in via a plumbing leak, rain, or just excessive moisture in the air can damage your supply.

You’re also dealing with gravity and the weight of the lumber piece resting on the small area at its base. Over days, weeks, or months, your lumber can start to bow and render it much less useful for construction or whatever other project you’re taking on.

The key to successful storage is to even out the weight-bearing load as much as possible with supports at the top of the lumber as well as the bottom.

To avoid water damage, keep the lumber raised off of the ground on a rack or some other contraption.

A man in supermarket in the lumber department holds a board in his hands

How to Prevent Warping and Bowing

Warping and bowing can happen when you’ve got the entire weight of a long piece of lumber bearing down on a small area. That’s what happens when you place large wood pieces against a wall, for instance.

To warping and bowing, you need to store them in a way that there is weight support near the top of the pieces.

This can be done by keeping your lumber on a rack with an edge about three-quarters of the way up that takes some of the weight of the pieces.

You can also find racks where there are multiple edges as you increase in vertical height. They almost look like a shelving unit, but there are no shelves. Instead of shelves, there are metal or wood edges meant to ease the weight on the bottom of your lumber pieces.

If you’re storing lumber in your garage, there are things you can do to prevent humidity from getting to your wood. Doing things like monitoring humidity levels, keeping temperatures even, and opening the garage door to let fresh air in will help.

Storing for the Long-Term

Which lumber should be stored vertically vs. horizontally? This question often comes down to how long you’re planning on storing and how much of it there will be.

Longer-term storage is better done with a horizontal solution.

No matter how much effort you put into keeping weight off of the base of your lumber pieces, there’s always some risk of bowing or warping. If you’re using the lumber as you go or in the next few days or weeks, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Any longer, though, and you should probably move it to something horizontal.

Likewise, if you’re storing larger quantities of lumber, there is going to be more weight on the stack. As a result, horizontal storage is ideal.

Worker man selecting a plywood plank

Can You Store Plywood Vertically?

Many of the same storage principles apply to plywood. However, it’s often more critical to get things right because there is more weight resting on a smaller edge.

Plywood, when stored vertically, isn’t as stable as when stacked horizontally.

What to Look for in a Vertical Storage Rack

If you’re tight on space and you’re dealing with a relatively small amount of lumber that you plan on using in the near term, then a vertical rack will do you just fine.

There are, however, things you should look for to keep your lumber in the best condition for as long as possible.

Luckily, there are racks online that fit the bill. Here are some things you should consider when shopping for a storage rack.

Weight-Bearing Capacity – Make sure the rack you’re interested in buying can support the load you’re putting on it.

Every rack you look at will have a weight capacity that will give you peace of mind knowing it can support your lumber.

Don’t push the limits on this, especially if you’re talking about heavy weight. You should be safely within the recommended weight limits to prevent any accidents from happening.

Elevated Base – This part is critical. Do your best to find a vertical rack with an elevated base where your lumber will rest.

You’ll find some racks for sale with wooden bases or steel bases. The material doesn’t matter so much as the distance from the ground.

You want at least an inch or so of clearance to avoid any moisture from seeping up into your wood. Also, if you’re dealing with small quantities of lumber, you can find some vertical racks with wheels on them to move around a shop floor.

Safety Mechanisms – Many vertical lumber storage solutions will have safety mechanisms on them to prevent lumber pieces from tipping over and falling.

These are heavy items, so a crashing piece of lumber can easily hurt someone, damage a car, or break something in your shop. To avoid this, find a rack with a chain that keeps the lumber nice and snug on the rack.

Slots for Different Sizes – Some vertical racks make it easier to stay organized with space broken up into vertical compartments.

These bars or dividers also keep you from overloading a certain area of the rack so it won’t get too heavy on one side.

You can keep longer pieces in one section and smaller lumber pieces in another to make grabbing what you need for work a lot simpler.

These are some good tips for finding the right vertical lumber solution for your home or business. Following these steps and buying the right rack will help you keep your lumber dry and straight so you don’t have to spend money on new supplies.


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