With proper care, your cabinetry will provide a lifetime of use and satisfaction. Proper care includes providing a wood friendly environment. Controlled temperature and humidity with minimal changes from day to day and season to season will ensure the stability and life of your wood cabinetry. So just how does humidity affect your cabinet?
Wood expands as humidity increases and shrinks as humidity decreases. Unfinished (exposed) wood will exhibit the most dramatic changes. Even finished wood will change with long term changes in humidity. As wood expands (swells) and contracts (shrinks) with changes in humidity, the finish at joints will crack. This cracking is universal but is much more evident on light colored paint than on stains or dark paints. Regardless, this is the nature of product made from wood and not a reason for replacement. Where humidity exposure is uneven, pieces may warp, cup or bow. Most often, if humidity level is returned to a normal level and maintained for a period of time, these issues will disappear. Extremely dry conditions can result in wood parts splitting and / or cracking in addition to shrinkage as described above. The optimal humidity level is 35% to 50% relative humidity. Extreme conditions (lower than 20% or higher than 80%) especially need to be avoided.
While most focus is on too humid conditions, too dry conditions can be equally damaging to cabinetry. Extreme dry conditions can lead to cracking in solid wood components. Under dry conditions, the insert panels in panel doors will shrink and the panel edges will be exposed. The exposed, unfinished panel edges will not match the finished surface of the rest of the panel and door. This is not a reason for replacement but is instead an indication that humidity levels are too low and need to be remedied.