Whether they’re in storage or already installed, your cabinets may be prone to the effects of humidity.
In harsh conditions, real wood cabinets will see the effect that any wood sees: swelling and shrinking.
Cabinet components are typically manufactured at a target range of 40%-50% relative humidity, which works well because even non-humidified homes stay between 20% and 70% in normal years with typical cooking and washing activities. However, in extremely cold, dry winters, your cabinets could be exposed to conditions in which the humidity is below 20%, which would cause shrinking. On the other hand, it is, in some places, natural for the humidity level to remain above 80% for long periods of time, which causes swelling.
For example, we will take a look at humidification effects on a door or cabinet with a miter joint. With extremely low humidity, the wood shrinks, and will appear to crack from the inner corner of the miter joint. Conversely, with extremely high humidity, the wood swells, and will appear to crack from the outer corner of the miter joint.
Steps You Can Take:
Pay close attention to the humidity inside the home.
- Invest in a digital thermometer-hygrometer unit to measure humidity.
Control the humidity!
- When the temperature is below 20 degrees, you want the humidity above 20%. When it is above 20 degrees, you want the humidity above 35%.
- There are plenty of ways to control your home’s humidity levels, such as a whole-house humidifier, a portable humidifier in specific rooms, or simply placing pans of water in the right places.
Don’t go overboard.
- If there is significant condensation on your windows, it’s a sign that the humidity levels in your home are too high for outdoor temperature conditions.
Learn what to look for.
- Finished wood responds to humidity over a period of several days to several weeks, and it takes time before the wood will return to normal after any adjustment to the environment is made.
Remember, even after swelling or shrinking, proper climate control will return the wood to its original position. Your cabinets will not be permanently affected by humidity.