May 2006                                Volume 45,  Issue 4


Keeping it Dry
Lumber Distributors Share Tips on Successful Wood Moulding Storage and Installations

by Sarah Batcheler

Wood mouldings must be stored properly to avoid warping or rotting caused by moisture. Lumber distributors play a vital role in storing mouldings and advising customers on how to prepare and install mouldings. 

The Inside Factor

Lumber distributors who talked to SHELTER said they mainly supplied wood mouldings for interior use only. Because these mouldings won’t have to fight the outside elements, they don’t need protective coatings to be applied at the distribution stage.

“Our customers are mainly general contractors or people installing it on their own homes or apartments,” says Carlos Caunedo, sales manager at Wood-O-Rama in New York, N.Y. “Since they [customers] are located in New York City, the majority of the moulding that is bought is for apartments,” Caunedo explains. 

“Usually, the mouldings we sell go for inside applications,” says Mike Breton, president of Lumber Center in Westfield, Mass.

“All of the mouldings we sell are for indoors, so there is not a risk of rotting or warping,” says Caunedo.

Distributors Store Wood Mouldings

Jim Mackie, owner of Jim Mackie Distribution in Romulus, Mich., says that he stores wood mouldings either in bins standing up tight or stacks them in lifts in the warehouse for lift orders back stock. 

Dan Barber, vice president of finance and administration for Barnett Millworks of Theodore, Ala., explains how his company stocks mouldings to keep them from warping.

“Full units from vendors are stored horizontal as [they are] received. When we break units to use for filling orders, we put them in a vertical rack,” says Barber, who adds that he has never encountered a warping or rotting problem.

Breton’s method of storage takes into account possible weather problems.

“We store our mouldings outside and elevated off the ground a foot and a half. We have it enclosed, and if the weather gets bad, we can shut the door,” says Breton.

Caunedo explains that wood moulding is stored horizontally in his location, but it is all kiln-dried lumber.

Walter Gaines, president of Christmas Lumber Co. of Harriman, Tenn., says he has a different system of storage.

“We store mouldings in vertical racks under cover,” says Gaines, who adds that he doesn’t think that storing then vertically has any advantages over horizontally, other than the fact that it takes up less space.

Advice to Customers

Owners of lumber yards pass along helpful information to their customers to ensure proper storage and installation of wood mouldings.

Since we store ours outside, we tell them [customers] to keep it [mouldings] inside for a day or two to acclimate it to the temperature,” says Breton.

“It is recommended that all wood products—finish work, moulding and paneling—be delivered to the jobsite and installed at least 48 hours after delivery. The 48 hours allows wood to acclimate to jobsite conditions such as humidity and temperature,” says Mackie. “Humidity is the big culprit,” he adds. “Our warehouse, lumber dealer’s warehouse and the jobsites all have different humidity levels.”

While some distributors recommend a wait time of 48 hours, others, like Walter Gaines, think more time is needed to adjust properly to the atmosphere.

“Humidity is the big culprit. Our warehouse, lumber dealer’s warehouse and the jobsites all have different humidity levels.” 
—Jim Mackie, owner of Jim Mackie Distribution

“To avoid warping, you are supposed to put the wood mouldings inside the area—we recommend, for at least a week before it’s nailed in place—to acclimate it with the humidity,” Gaines says. He says he recommends a week for all wood products, such as wood floors, that are to be installed in a house.

“The problem you run into if you don’t [let the wood mouldings acclimate to temperature and humidity of its new atmosphere] is shrinkage, or the opposite—swelling. Wood continually moves with temperature and humidity changes,” says Gaines. “But nobody lets it acclimate. They take it from here and nail it up immediately,” he adds.

Installation Problems

Customers can face problems when they cut or install mouldings incorrectly.

“The biggest problem I see when people are installing moulding is that they don’t know how to cut it,” says Caunedo. “They all want to be big shots and cut out the installer because they charge too much money, but then they find out why they shouldn’t do that,” he adds.

He explains that when mouldings are cut too short, they sometimes have to be replaced.

“Homeowners don’t know what they are doing, but they think they do,” says Breton. 

Breton says that moulding installation is basic to carpenters and contractors, and he doesn’t hear about many problems when they are installing it.

“When contractors run into problems, it’s usually about speed. They are trying to get it done too fast,” he says.

“We visit jobsites when there is a problem,” says Mackie, who adds that it is costly when there is an installation problem with mouldings.


As moulding distributors continue to offer advice to homeowners and contractors about installing mouldings, problems can be reduced and the results of nice wood mouldings can be appreciated.

Sarah Batcheler is an assistant editor for SHELTER magazine.


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