At Maryland Wood Countertops, we offer a large variety of wood species. What’s our most popular type of wood for countertops? Black walnut! However, when we say black walnut, we could be referring to many different appearances taken on by the same species. For example, walnut can be dried in many different ways after it is milled.
The Advantages of Air-Dried Walnut
Air-dried walnut is just that—it’s milled and laid in stacks with stickers to separate each of the boards to allow for air movement on all sides of each piece. Then you wait. Many woodworkers would prefer to work with air-dried walnut because it doesn’t have any additional internal tensions from a false-drying process. This means that each board has less of a tendency to curl when ripped. Also, air-dried wood is much tougher and more resistant to chipping and cracking, both while in the shop and after the product is finished. Air-dried walnut retains 20% more color and grain variation that kiln-dried walnut, leaving it a darker, more attractive wood.
How Kiln-Dried Walnut Is Prepared
Kiln-dried walnut is essentially wood that is put into large heating chambers that reduce the drying time from years to weeks. This is a good process for when walnut is in high demand, but it does have its downfalls. Unless the kiln-dried lumber is kept in a fully climate-controlled building, it will re-absorb moisture and cause many issues, including checking and cracking, but will still retain the same lack of color and brittleness of kiln-dried lumber. Because of its quick turn-around, though, kiln-dried walnut is usually significantly cheaper than air-dried walnut, which is an important consideration for many customers..
Steaming walnut has one purpose. To change the color of the wood. Walnut is a chocolate color wood, but has light vanilla sapwood. In some cases, this is thought to be a defect, when clients expect their countertops to be completely dark with no light streaking. In order to get rid of this lighter color, some large production mills steam the wood before it’s sold. At smaller production-scale mills like Maryland Wood Countertops, we take it upon ourselves to cut out the sapwood. The steaming process makes the wood more uniform in color, but has a high production cost. While the sapwood does darken, the heartwood also lightens.
Some lumber companies incorporate two or more of these methods because they believe that they can preserve the color and eliminate the amount of time that it takes to go from a rough-milled slab to a fully dried and ready to use slab of walnut. However, it is obvious, when looking at three different slabs of walnut that have been dried in these ways, which one was kiln-dried, air-dried or steamed.
The pricing of walnut is determined by many internal and external variables. Most of the time, the price at which Maryland Wood Countertops purchases the lumber influences the final cost. For example, the pricing for steamed walnut is cheaper than kiln-dried, which are both less expensive than air-dried walnut. This, along with the time of year and availability of the species influence the final price.
Get a Custom Quote for Black Walnut Countertops
Do you have any questions about black walnut countertops? Want a custom quote on a project for your home or business? If so, call us today! We provide same-day quotes and we want to answer any questions you may have about our products and services.