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Home » Troubleshooting/Inspections » Shrink and swell

For problem floors and inspection-related issues.
7/8/2011 4:57:17 PM

craigdewitt
craigdewitt
Posts: 125
Howard posted a blog entry about terminology, and recommended "shrink" and "swell" instead of "expand" and "contract" when talking about what wood does when it gains or loses water. I wholeheartedly see the need for common terminology and support Howard's efforts (and will certainly enjoy his blog comments). But I don't like those words.

"Swell" typically means to expand from a change in pressure. A finger swells when you hit it with a hammer. A hot dog swells when you cook it. We could say that a change in water pressure in wood causes it to get bigger. Therefore it swells.

One thing I learned from my years working at Clemson University is writing for your audience. So though "Swell" may be technically correct, it isn't necessarily correctly understood by clients of inspection reports. A floor that gains moisture could be cupped. But that is the exact opposite look a homeowner might expect when I say their floor swelled. They could envision their floor to look crowned (the appearance of swollen), which occurs when a floor loses moisture.

Clients can understand "expand", as in "the board expanded when it gained moisture". "Swell" means to expand from ... So lets just say "expand".

On the other hand, I like "shrink" or "shrank" better than "contract". To me "contract" means to pull in or pull back. That could lead someone to think a cupped floor has contracted. I think people understand "shrink" much better.

So I vote for "Expand" and "Shrink" for official terminology to describe what wood flooring does when it gets bigger or smaller from a gain or loss of moisture.
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7/11/2011 12:29:30 PM

hbrickman
hbrickman
Posts: 136
It doesn't matter what you and I think sounds better or more technical. Maybe we should do a better job of explaining what the correct terminology means to our customers. Dumbing the discourse down does not seem correct when the meanings are not exactly the same.

--
Brickman Consulting
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7/11/2011 4:45:13 PM

Selva Lee Tucker
Selva Lee Tucker
Posts: 162
yea, yea,
well, when people see me and they say, Lee! You have gained weight! I say, no, I have "upsized"
and when I lose a few pounds, I say, I am "down sizing",
enlarge, decrease? naw,

--
"Life is just too much damn fun to die"
slt
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7/11/2011 9:11:39 PM

Roy Reichow
Roy Reichow
Moderator
Posts: 342
Guys it's not really what we think but rather what the industry thinks of terminology. For example the term over/underwood in other organizations use lippage or ledging yet meaning the same thing. In reality if we wish to change terminology we should consider what other organisations are using and maybe adapt to unify the verbiage. This would really help when it comes to the courtroom.

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Roy Reichow
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7/11/2011 9:31:35 PM

hbrickman
hbrickman
Posts: 136
A smart lawyer corrects your terminology because you thought expand sounded better than swell then starts to make you look stupid when you are actually pretty smart and it costs your client a bag full of money. Never mind, I might be on the other side.

--
Brickman Consulting
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7/12/2011 7:25:01 AM

craigdewitt
craigdewitt
Posts: 125
When I was little, my grandfather took me to the emergency room with a bad stomach ache. The doctor asked if I felt nauseous. I said I didn't know, but sure felt like I was going to throw up. Know your audience.

And I sure don't want tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis or pea pods in my fruit salad, nor will I ever expect the government, cook book authors, TV cooks or even Martha Stewart to call them fruit. But scientifically they are fruit. And if I ever write a paper or address a scientific body about them, I will call them by their proper scientific terminology. But when my audience is the people I deal with on a day to day basis (including friends with PhD's who teach botany), I will call them vegetables. And there will be no confusion.

Any lawyer who wants to challenge me for using "expand" instead of "swell" better be ready for me to revert to using "got bigger". Or, if as Howard said, "swell" means that something expanded from an increase in internal pressure, you had better be able to prove that the internal pressure did increase. So far, none of my tools will measure that.

I might concede that a board "swelled". But the floor expanded. If "swell" means to expand from internal pressure, then the floor expanded from an external pressure. One board pushed on another board. That is an external pressure.

"Expand" is in the definition of "swell". If something swelled, it did expand. Why not keep things simple, understandable and accurate?
edited by craigdewitt on 7/12/2011
edited by craigdewitt on 7/12/2011
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7/14/2011 8:50:16 PM

Selva Lee Tucker
Selva Lee Tucker
Posts: 162
This was part of my intent on linkedIn site about industry standards / terms and regulations.
Yesterday a lawyer asked me to explain "normal lighting", and "normal lighting and viewing? then asked me who set such a stupid "regulation or standard", he knows how that is going to play out.

How do you smart guys define normal lighting and viewing?

Life is good, enjoy it
edited by selvalee on 7/14/2011

--
"Life is just too much damn fun to die"
slt
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7/14/2011 9:40:07 PM

Stephen Perrera
Stephen Perrera
Posts: 955
Who said all lawyers were smart? If he can't understand no reflective lighting and standing position, oh well.
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7/15/2011 7:07:09 AM

David Harrison
David Harrison
Moderator
Posts: 396
Lawyers aren't necessarily looking for the truth... they are looking for angles to overcome a perceived truth
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7/15/2011 9:26:05 AM

Stephen Perrera
Stephen Perrera
Posts: 955
David Harrison wrote:
Lawyers aren't necessarily looking for the truth... they are looking for angles to overcome a perceived truth


True that David, I argue with my lawyer almost every day! wink Some just don't have any common sense but are super bright.
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7/15/2011 9:37:58 AM

David Harrison
David Harrison
Moderator
Posts: 396
Its amazing how you can come up with ways to see it differently when someone is paying you for the service. :-)
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7/17/2011 7:31:10 PM

Selva Lee Tucker
Selva Lee Tucker
Posts: 162
Who set these standards? I have seen a judge look at an retailer and sale rep like they were from outer space when saying a lady can't look at her floor with the blinds / curtains open?
edited by selvalee on 7/17/2011

--
"Life is just too much damn fun to die"
slt
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7/17/2011 10:39:13 PM

Selva Lee Tucker
Selva Lee Tucker
Posts: 162
David Harrison wrote:
Its amazing how you can come up with ways to see it differently when someone is paying you for the service. :-)




David,
I thought long and then, didn't anymore.

In my younger days, such an insult would be settled by inviting the person to go hunting. But, I have gotten old.

For a moderator, that was damn insulting but then, I forgot about it until I came back looking for something different.
I could not let it pass without a good ole fashion scolding.

So, you are saying people should accept second quality work? or second quality product? To protect whom?

Standards are never written to protect the consumer, only the retailer, contractor or mill. Warrantees are not for consumers, they are for manufacturers and the people who sell the product. Everyone knows this, so there should be no debate on this.

Judges and the lawyers who use logic, yes, logic, to defend their clients' interest and protect them, yes, protect them, are not dumb or ignorant or without common sense. They are the ones who protects the consumers against unreasonable application of the warranties when applied without regard to quality, ethics or moral judgement of right and wrong.

So, such standards you are defending, says to me, "Its amazing how you can come up with ways to see it differently when someone is paying you...." to defend second quality workmanship and product against legit complaints. So, you see, your own words also tell people who is paying you.

So, you see, there are always two sides to any issue, and insults can be used back at you also, using your own words.

I don't think we need this here, or anywhere professionals are gathered seeking truth and true knowledge. Protectionism is good but carried to any extreme, hurts everyone, including, in this instance, the wood industry.

Too much junk product and bad workmanship, and protectionism by some in the industry has lowered consumers' opinion of us, and that is, indeed, based upon who is paying whom to protect their special monetary interest.

Sly innuendos or open insults or attempts to cast nefarious libelous comments about each other, does not promote the industry or speak well of people in authority to abuse or use "position" to advance their special monetary interest.

No intent to insult but, please think before you apply that submit button if you are indeed a moderator.


thank you,

slt

--
"Life is just too much damn fun to die"
slt
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7/18/2011 8:21:15 AM

David Harrison
David Harrison
Moderator
Posts: 396
Selva, sorry didn't mean that as an insult to inspectors but as an observation of the Lawyer's angle.....they are the ones that are actually being paid to find an angle for their client. Sometimes it is just that.....an angle. this doesn't mean that there are not legitimatre complaints about quality issues.
My whole take on all of this is that we have access to many products out there that are produced to meet certain price points that consumers are looking for. To the average consumer most of the time the products perform as expected.......but sometimes you have the expectations of the consumer that seem unreasonable. In these cases.....the court system is the final word. I know that generally the cheaper products carry a lesser warranty simply because it becomes impossible to produce a cheap product ( which there is a market for) and then expect it to hold up to just as high of scrutiny as the more expensive ones. Selva, I've seen you on these post for years....I certainly wan't taking any shots at you but in my haste did not make my self clear about who I was really referring to......I apologize if I offended you or anyone else but I was caught up in the lawyer angle of what was being said...... I would have loved to have gone hunting......just don't have time for it anymore.... :-)
edited by dharrison on 7/18/2011
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7/18/2011 10:27:06 AM

johannes
johannes
Posts: 394
Expansion and Contraction are correct/accurate technical terms (wood technology), swelling and shrinking are perhaps easier to understand and also correct (easier to understand for the novice) alternatives which means exactly the same. This is how I have always explained it to novices!
Dr. William Feist from the US Forest Service often used the technical terminology in his official documents and the latter in articles that were read by craftsman and novices.

In a report I would use the technical terminology and perhaps add the latter in parenthesis to avoid confusion/misunderstanding (and to cover my butt legally if that would be a concern you would have).

Both expressions basically discribe a dimensional change.

Johannes.
edited by johannes on 7/18/2011
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7/18/2011 11:00:34 AM

Stephen Perrera
Stephen Perrera
Posts: 955
selvalee wrote:
Who set these standards? I have seen a judge look at an retailer and sale rep like they were from outer space when saying a lady can't look at her floor with the blinds / curtains open?
edited by selvalee on 7/17/2011


Well you changed the subject Lee. But I think the standard for viewing or looking for "irregularity's" on hardwood floors surface was written like that because for one a human with onsite machines cannot possibly create a piano type finished look across a large room with onsite machinery. In a manufacturing plant, certainly. You might have forgotten what it takes to make a perfectly flat finish sanding a floor onsite. smile I'm bettin you could find an irregularity on any floor if you looked hard enough wiuth the PROPER reflective lighting.
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7/19/2011 9:00:42 PM

hbrickman
hbrickman
Posts: 136
Johannes,
Expansion and Contraction are correct/accurate technical terms but the current usage in the Wood Handbook seems to be limited to references regarding thermal properties whereas shrinking and swelling are specifically used with regard to dimensional changes caused by moisture content changes. This is the current usage that is recognized by the academic wood science community. thermal and moisture dimensional changes are different. Please spend a few hours searching through the Wood Handbook to see how the words -shrink-swell-expand-contract are used.

--
Brickman Consulting
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7/20/2011 9:10:16 AM

johannes
johannes
Posts: 394
Howard,
I agree with you that in the Wood Handbook reference is made to "expansion" mostly when it relates to thermal expansion.
However, in the same Handbook there are references to expansion specific in relationship to moisture gain.

See Page 309 chapter 13-18 where under Flooring there is reference to an expansion joint to accomodate for the swelling of wood flooring.
On page 323 chapter 14-12 again there is a reference to allow for an expansionjoint to allow for swelling.
And last, page 405 chapter 17-10 there is the reference "(d) damage caused by expansion of materials from moisture (such as buckling of wood floors)," under the paragraph heading Moisture Control.

So, both expressions are (or at least appear) just and correct. I do agree that expansion and contraction appears to be more often used when ther is a refernce to thermal dimensional changes.

However, with reference to wood flooring and under normal/recommended MC conditions, thermal expension and contraction can be neglected when it is compared to expansion/contraction caused by variations in MC.

I have placed a call to a few people working for the Forest Service and the Forest Depatment of the University of Maine to get their scoop on the subject. If it is your concern when it comes to legal interpretation I would certainly consult with legal counsil.

Johannes.
edited by johannes on 7/20/2011


Received a phonecall from the Forest Service;

Howard you are right,

I was explained by the person I spoke with that the term expansion and contraction is strictly used in reference to dimensional movement of wood due to variations in temperature. Swelling and shrinking refers to dimensional movement due to variations in Moisture content.
I was explained that the difference is due to an academic approach of a scientific viewpoint. Whatever that means!

I was explained that when wood absorbs moisture it swells up, a raise in temperature does not cause wood cells to swell but they expand which is different apparently than swelling by moisture absorption.

Anyhow, I explained the references in the Handbook that I refered you to and did not get much of an explanation in that regard. It is what it is.

I quess it would be something that should be reviewed by a legal counsil if this could pose a legal problem "when push comes to shove". This should be a topic during an Inspector imposium or perhaps Kim or our modirator can pass this on to somebody within the NWFA to investigate.

Now I have been thinking about this for a while I can say that in this industry we often use either the term "swelling" or "expanding" and "shrinkage". The term "Contraction" is not or hardly used.

We only deal with dimensional change due to MC variation so I quess "swelling and shrinking" it is. But, personally I feel either is correct (I'm stubborn).

Johannes.
edited by johannes on 7/20/2011
edited by johannes on 7/20/2011
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7/20/2011 1:03:02 PM

craigdewitt
craigdewitt
Posts: 125
About any definition of "swell" that I can find includes the word "expand". I wouldn't be surprised that the use of "swell" in the Wood Handbook is a locality issue. Some people call it "pop", some call it "soda", some call it "coke." And I bet some of us still "dial" the phone.

If we insist on a pressure-caused expansion distinction to call it "swell", we can't and don't measure the pressure. And that is not good in court. And its on a molecular level, just like thermal "expansion". The increase in size is NOT from a change in water pressure.

We're making way to big a deal out of it. How about we pick on adsorption and absorption?
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7/20/2011 1:14:23 PM

johannes
johannes
Posts: 394
I would have another expression for arguing the difference but could not get away with printing such expression. In court it would considered be a technicality, and you could loose a case due to that.

Johannes.
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