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What Is a Rick of Wood? (And How Much Does It Cost?)

What Is a Rick of Wood? (And How Much Does It Cost?)

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If you’ve just gotten a firepit or fireplace and are new to purchasing firewood, you might be curious as to what all of these names are that you’re hearing. 

There are all kinds of names for the various sizes of firewood that retailers will sell. 

You may hear terms such as cord, face cords, half cords, quarter face, quarter cord, an eighth of a cord, and so on. 

One such term that you may hear about is known as a “rick” of wood.

When you know what a rick of wood is, it will be the key to understanding the various names and sizes attached to firewood.

What Is a Rick of Wood?

A rick of wood, also known as a face cord of wood, is a stack of firewood that’s eight feet long and four feet tall. It’s available in varying widths depending on which firewood supplier you choose. The widths can differ based on local markets, region, or supplier as well.

Generally speaking, you’ll find a rick or face cord of wood in 12, 16, or 24-inch options. This means that each of the firewood logs within that stack will be one of the lengths mentioned earlier. 

Among these logs, the most common size is about 16 inches. They’re ideal for general home heating and ambiance and offer a suitable balance between burn time and ease of handling. 

12-inch logs are best suited for smaller wood-burning stoves, while 24-inch logs are more applicable for outdoor fire pits and stoves with ample space. 

Where Does the Term “Rick” Come From?

Firewood Under Tarp

The term “rick” actually comes from an old English word meaning pile or stack. It tends to refer to farm-related stacks such as wood, corn, hay, and a variety of other things.

It eventually made its way to North America where it remains a fairly common term, especially in the midwestern United States.

How Big is a Rick of Wood?

Before delving into the specifics, it’s a good idea to know how big a cord of wood can be. 

Cords of wood are typically stacked to dimensions of about four feet high, four feet wide, and around eight feet long. A rick is a fraction of the full cord. A full cord, generally speaking, is around 48 inches wide.

Here’s a little bit of a helper comparing ricks to cords: 

Width (Inches) Cord Fraction

Note that even with this helpful measuring standard, keep in mind that vendors and regions can vary in their measurements. Don’t assume a size as it could fall short of what you need. 

Make sure to take the time to call the vendor early on when selecting your rick of wood.

What Does a Rick of Wood Weigh?

The weight of a rick of wood varies based on the size, as well as the type of firewood that you are choosing.

Hardwoods like Oak, Ironwood, and Beech, are known for their denser composition and heavier weight, providing efficient and prolonged heat when burned. Heavier ricks that can weigh close to two and a half tons (5,500 lbs) in a single cord.

On the other hand, lighter firewood types, like spruces, weigh less than half of their denser counterparts. A full cord of spruce wood, for instance, typically weighs approximately a ton and a quarter (2,500 lbs).

How Many Pieces Are in a Rick of Wood?

Pile Of Birch Firewood

Like anything else about a rick of wood, it depends on your region and vendor. For a rick or face cord of oak, you can expect to pay between $150 and $250.

Prices can and will vary based on the type of wood that you choose (black locust, red oak, maple, etc.), if it’s been seasoned, how it’s been seasoned (air or kiln dried), the specific local market, and so on.

With all of those factors involved, it’s more likely you’ll get an approximate range than a more specific price. 

Therefore, it’s always best to budget somewhere toward the higher end of the scale to play it safe and ensure that you get the amount of wood that you need without being stunned by the price.

Delivery Fee

To save on delivery fees, some opt to pick up the wood themselves. While this may be ideal, not everyone has a truck for loading their own firewood. So, if you plan to get it delivered, make sure that you count on a delivery fee of around $1 to $2 for every loaded mile.

Some suppliers charge only after a specific number of miles have been driven to save the fees from getting out of control. If it’s your first time getting a delivery, it couldn’t hurt to ask if the first one will be waived.

There are plenty of suppliers that do provide free wood delivery, but just make sure that you anticipate this cost when you are budgeting and researching the different vendors out there. 

You’d rather plan ahead and not have to pay the fee than not plan for the fee and be blindsided by the additional cost.

Stacking Fee 

Some suppliers may also charge a stacking fee. This can run in the $20 to $30 range, but there are plenty of vendors that will do it for free. 

If you have no interest in stacking the wood yourself, check with the vendor first. 

Some vendors may not even have a stacking option, so explore all of the options before you complete your order.

Storing Your Firewood

Firewood Stored In Building

When you’ve made your purchase, storing the firewood properly is of the utmost importance. Buying a rick, cord, or any other measurement of firewood is certainly not inexpensive and the last thing that you want is to let it go to waste.

Stacked vs. Unstacked Firewood

Perhaps you’ve had your firewood delivered but not stacked. What do you do with the firewood now? 

If you decide to have it split and dried, all that’s left is to simply stack it in your spot of choice. 

Where you stack it is important; you need to be able to get to it conveniently throughout the winter and it’s a good idea to cover it.

If the firewood you had delivered isn’t split, you’ll need to split it into more manageable pieces. This serves two purposes: to make it easier to carry and to improve its burning performance in the appliance you’re using it for.

Managing Wet or Green Firewood

Should the firewood be wet or green, you need to find an open airspace so that it can dry as you stack it. 

How efficiently and quickly the wood dries depends on how you choose to pile or stack the wood. There are several effective options for piling or stacking:

  • Row Stacking: Neatly arrange the firewood in a single row. 
  • Heap Piling: Stack the wood in a loose, rounded heap. While less structured, this method allows for good airflow.
  • Circle Piling: Create circular piles for effective air circulation and even drying.
  • End Pillar: Build one or two pillars stacked side by side at each end. Build the end pillars first and stack the firewood between them.

The most common and practical method is to go with row stacking. You can have stakes at the ends of the pile or simply cross-tie it to secure it.

It’s also important to remember to stack off of the ground, too. Keeping your firewood off the ground comes down to your preference between bricks, logs, and pallets.

Cross-Tying Method

When cross-tying, there’s one near-foolproof way of doing so. 

As you split the wood, try to make several square pieces. 

This makes the ends of the stack stronger than if you used odd-shaped or rounded pieces in its place. 

It also saves a ton of effort and time, as it prevents the firewood from collapsing and ensures a more secure and stable stack.

Try not to stack between trees. As sturdy as you may think those trees are, tree movement is real, and it can lead to stacks of firewood toppling over.

Single Row vs. Multiple Rows

While circle piling and heap piling methods work well for drying wood, the best overall method for a faster drying time is to use single-row stacking.

Should you decide to stack more than a single row, make sure that you leave a good amount of space between each of the rows. This is to provide proper air circulation so that the wood remains dry at all times.

When wood is stacked together too tightly, moisture can build in those crevices. Excess moisture within the stack can lead to several undesirable consequences, such as prolonged drying times, increased risk of mold and fungi growth, and diminished overall firewood quality. 

However you decide to stack the firewood, ensure that it’s kept tight, neat, and tidy. A messy stack might not be a big deal, but it won’t look very good.

Racks, Holders, and What to Burn

Stack Of Firewood

I highly recommend that you only burn dried wood. Using green wood can lead to way more smoke than is comfortable.

Keep that in mind when you’re stacking, too. You want to be able to get to the driest wood first and foremost.

Rotating the firewood stack is a beneficial practice as well. Consider burning some of the oldest pieces in the stack to prevent the possibility of wood rot over time. This not only ensures the efficient use of the firewood but also mitigates the risk of deterioration due to prolonged storage.

As for stacking, holders and racks can make things easier. Racks and holders can be used both indoors and outdoors, making them ideal for keeping firewood organized in spaces like a garage or large shed. 

If you do plan on keeping firewood in your home, it’s a good idea to only keep a few days’ worth at one time. Ideally, limit indoor firewood storage to approximately 2 to 3 days’ worth. 

A large stack of firewood can attract a lot of unwanted pests. Not only that, it can result in dirt as well as debris in the form of bark pieces. If that weren’t enough, the pollen that gets stuck to the wood can be bad for allergies.

Making sure the wood is dry is not only important for burning but storing in your home as well. If you bring wood that is wet into your home, there’s a chance that the moisture trapped in the wood can lead to higher levels of humidity in your home. 

Increased humidity can create an uncomfortable living space, potentially causing issues like mold growth, musty odors, and a generally less pleasant atmosphere. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the different sizes of a cord or rack, as well as what they could cost, you can plan for the winter ahead. 

Firewood can make for a more homey, potentially less expensive source of heat than gas depending on where you live.

Making use of firewood is relatively easy to do, but it will take some planning and some work to pull off. Make sure that you get the proper stack and that you effectively and carefully stack your wood so that it will last throughout the winter.

With all of these tools in hand, you can keep your home nice and toasty throughout the coldest months of the year.


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Greg Sloan

Sunday 9th of May 2021

Great article Ben, thanks. I just recently retired from the sheriff's dept here in McMinn County, Tennessee, after a near fatal event with Covid-19. After almost 40 years as a deputy sheriff, here in Tennessee and Southern California, I'm going to do something I enjoy; split firewood and, if the boss here at home let's me, sell some of it for supplemental income, at least sell enough of it to pay for the splitter she let me buy, (I just do what I'm told, haha). I appreciate Your help. You and your family be blessed Brother and please be safe.

Ben Esman

Monday 10th of May 2021

Thanks and I'm glad to hear that your health is back after the nasty virus!