Moisture-induced stresses perpendicular to grain in cross-sections of timber members exposed to different climates

M. Fragiacomo (Corresponding Author), Stefania Fortino, D. Tononi, I. Usardi, Tomi Toratti

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    In variable humidity conditions, wood absorbs or desorbs moisture from the air. Unless the change in humidity is very slow, this will develop moisture gradients in the wood sections. These gradients will develop stresses due to constrained swelling or shrinkage strains. These stresses are named moisture-induced stresses. The present paper investigates the main parameters affecting such moisture-induced stresses, including the type of climate, the size of the timber cross-section, and the type of protective coating. A first attempt to identify moisture-induced stresses in different European climatic regions was made. For each climatic region, relative humidity and temperature histories were identified, and characteristic and mean values of yearly and daily variations were calculated. Using a finite element model implemented in Abaqus, the moisture content and stress distribution were computed on different timber cross-sections exposed to the climatic regions and protected with different types of coating. A Fickian moisture transfer model was used to compute the moisture distribution, and a mechanical model for time-dependent behaviour of wood was implemented to calculate the corresponding stress distribution. The variation of moisture was found to result in stresses of magnitudes that would probably cause cracking of wood in the perimeter of any uncoated cross-section size. The use of a protective coating, however, reduced considerably the moisture-induced stresses, and can be regarded as an effective protective measure to avoid cracking due to humidity variations. Considering European climates, Northern climates were found to result in higher surface tensile stresses than Southern climates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3071-3078
    Number of pages8
    JournalEngineering Structures
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Abaqus code
    • climatic zones
    • finite element analyses
    • moisture-induced stresses
    • timber structures
    • ProperTune


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