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How do changes in humidity affect my wooden kitchen cabinets that were made elsewhere?

There are 3 critical operations in the manufacture of wooden kitchen cabinet doors:

  1. Precision of the molder

  2. Rail length and style cutting precision

  3. Consistency in the removal of material during the machining operation of the outer edge.

If all three critical operations are met, the doors will have a tolerance of 5 mil. (The worst-case tolerance is 15 thousandths or 1/64 of an inch.)

Without special attention, consistency in the size of the finished door is almost impossible. When the cabinet door material is molded, the width of this material is the most critical factor in sizing 5-piece kitchen cabinet doors. If the molded width of the style material is kept within the 5 mil tolerance, all other standardized operations can continue to be standardized.

Size is more critical when building replacement doors for frameless cabinets due to the fact that tolerance is much tighter on frame cabinet doors.

I think we are all aware of the simple fact that all cabinet doors react to changes in humidity by absorbing or emitting moisture. Are you also aware of the fact that unfinished doors react faster to humidity changes?

Our exterior buildings are constructed with treated wood to avoid these humidity problems; What a pity that we cannot use treated wood in the manufacture of our kitchen cabinets!

Due to the fit of the doors, when the doors fit well, you can almost guarantee that moisture will not affect your cabinet doors or in some cases will warp these doors more than 1/64 of an inch. When this number is only 1 / 64th of an inch, that doesn’t represent much, and in most cases, unless you have something to measure it by or are looking at it carefully (with a magnifying glass), you won’t even see it.

However, with proper care, your kitchen cabinets will give you a useful and satisfying life. Proper care implies a wood-friendly environment: temperature and humidity controlled with minimal changes from day to day and from season to season, which will ensure your comfort and the temperature and humidity will also ensure the stability and shelf life of your wooden cabinets.

But you should always keep in mind that continuous splashes from a sink or a flood will damage your wooden cabinets.

Steam can also cause problems of the same kind, be it from cooktops or dishwashers.

You probably know how to wipe the moisture out of your wooden cabinets to minimize damage. However, sometimes if excess moisture is not cleaned up immediately and the wood has a chance to absorb moisture, an effort must be made to dry the wood immediately. Try to use fans and dehumidifiers with cloths and compounds that absorb moisture. Keep in mind that immediate attention reduces the amount of damage and will reduce the chances of mold and mildew growth.

Regardless of whether or not the author likes the following statement, you should know that finishes and other coatings (foil laminate or tempered) slow down the transfer of moisture. It never completely stops. Solid wood will change dimensionally more along the grain than with the grain; however, keep in mind that plywood, particle board, and fibreboard are more dimensionally stable.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced particle board and fibreboard that, when exposed directly to water, expands in thickness quickly and dramatically, which in more severe cases can cause the joint finish to crack. This is sometimes much more evident in light-colored paints than in dark stains or paints. (I cannot explain the reason for this).

Moisture creaking is universal and is the nature of products made of wood and is not a reason for replacement. Usually after you have a humidity problem, if the humidity level returns to a normal level and is maintained for a while, these problems will go away. The best humidity level is between 35% and 50%. Humidity conditions below 20% or above 80% should be avoided.

On the other hand, dry conditions can cause pieces of wood to split and / or crack solid wood components. The insert panels on the panel doors will shrink and the panel edges will be exposed, causing the raw panels on the exposed raw panel edges to not match the finished surface of the rest of the panel and the door. Again, this is not a reason for replacement, but rather an indication that the humidity levels are too low and should be remedied.

Apart from all this, the temperature increases the percentage that makes the materials expand and also decreases that the materials contract or shrink. Sudden changes in temperature cause more drastic changes and are more likely to cause cracks and crevices in solid wood. It is also more likely to cause warping, cupping, and bowing in any wood component. So what temperature should you maintain for the sake of your wood cabinets?

What question! I generally use the general rule of thumb that whatever temperature is comfortable for me is the one that may be most beneficial for my wood cabinets, but if you’re still unsure, follow these guidelines:

  1. Use dehumidifiers and / or air conditioning to control excess humidity.

  2. Use a humidifier to prevent the air from becoming too dry during the winter.

  3. Maintain your normal climate control during the holidays to reduce the risk of damage.

  4. Before installing your new wood cabinet, acclimatize the cabinet by moving it to the room where it will be when you install it. This must be done at least 48 hours before installation. If this doesn’t work for you, place them in another area that is basically the same temperature.

Last but not least, temperature and humidity are also affected by: adequate exterior drainage, adequate insulation, properly installed vapor barriers, and adequate and adequate ventilation and air exchange.

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