Humidity levels for millwork and interior finishing on construction sites in Alberta and British Columbia (BC)

For project managers and site superintendents in charge of large construction projects, there are thousands of variables to be concerned with to achieve quality workmanship and to deliver on-time and on budget. One of the biggest challenges is scheduling trades to complete millwork and do interior finishing such as drywall work and painting.

Fluctuating humidity levels can make this especially difficult. Trades may claim that humidity is outside an acceptable range for the work to be done, or they may claim it is okay when the project manager thinks otherwise. This creates nightmares for a project manager who doesn’t have enough information to know for themselves and is concerned with getting the job done. It is also critical to maintain warranties and deliver a quality product.

Information that comes from the USDA Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 72, shows that the Optimum Moisture Content for exterior wood for architecture varies by region. In most of Alberta, an optimum indoor relative humidity level of 17 to 50% will provide the right amount of humidity to keep the optimum moisture content of 4 to 9% for interior millwork. Meanwhile, in most of British Columbia, an optimum indoor relative humidity level of 25 to 55% will keep the optimum moisture content of 5 to 10% for interior millwork. However, damp coastal microclimates should have a working indoor relative humidity range between 43 and 70% to keep the optimum moisture content of 8 to 13% for millwork.
 

Geographical Location Optimum Moisture Content (MC) Optimum Indoor Relative Humidity
Exterior Interior
Most of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba 10-15% 4-9% 17-50%
Most of BC, Ontario, Quebec and U.S. 9-15% 5-10% 25-55%
Damp coastal microclimates 10-15% 8-13% 43-70%

Source: USDA Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 72
 

WesternOne has developed a solution, called WEDGE™, that is particularly effective for controlling millwork and finishing quality and to keep trades on schedule. WEDGE™ uses wireless remote sensors installed throughout a construction site. The project manager, site superintendent and project owners get access to an online dashboard from any device where they can see in real-time the humidity levels throughout a site, and can be notified immediately if humidity levels are nearing the thresholds of acceptable ranges. At this point, they can proactively make an equipment adjustment that will maintain optimum conditions. Meanwhile, they can have the same setup for other measurements that impact work quality and scheduling such as temperature.

Historical data is also kept for the site and can be crucial for maintaining a warranty or clarifying whether conditions were right at any given time.

The benefits of being able to monitor humidity throughout a construction site include:

  1. Maintaining warranties on work by knowing humidity levels were within acceptable ranges
  2. Ensuring quality millwork outcomes that last
  3. Getting notified proactively when approaching thresholds so that you can control conditions
  4. Making adjustments when there are differences between areas of a worksite that need to be corrected
  5. Scheduling trades with confidence knowing exactly what conditions they are working in

In 2017, WesternOne developed a smart technology for worksites called WEDGE™. It’s a fully-integrated, reliable remote monitoring service providing accessible data 24/7 from the worksite, to your smartphone, tablet or computer. WEDGE™ uses robust sensors installed on the worksite to monitor conditions such as temperature, humidity, and fuel levels and sends instant text alerts to site managers and team members if set parameters are exceeded.

Information on WEDGE

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