How Do Changes in Humidity Affect My Wooden Kitchen Cabinets That Were Made Elsewhere?
There are 3 critical operations in the manufacturing of wooden kitchen cabinet doors:
- Moulder accuracy
- Style and rail length cutting accuracy
- Consistency in stock removal during the operation of machining the outside edge.
If all three of the critical operations are adhered to, the doors will have a tolerance of 5-thousandths of an inch. (The worst case tolerance is 15-thousandths or 1/64 of an inch.)
Without close attention, consistency in sizing the finished door is almost impossible. When the cabinet door stock is moulded, the width of this stock is the most critical factor in sizing 5-piece kitchen cabinet doors. If the moulded width of the style stock is held within the tolerance of the 5 – thousandths of an inch, all other standardized operations can continue to be standardized.
Sizing is more critical when building replacement doors for the frameless cabinets due to the fact that the tolerance is much tighter on framed cabinet doors.
I think we all are aware of the simple fact that all cabinet doors react to changes in humidity by absorbing or giving off moisture. Are you also aware of the fact that unfinished doors react sooner to humidity changes?
Our outside buildings are built with treated wood to avoid these humidity problems – too bad we can’t use treated wood in the making of our kitchen cabinets!
Due to the fit of the doors, when the doors fit tight, you are able to almost guarantee humidity will not affect your cabinet doors or in some cases warp these doors more than 1/64 of an inch. When this number is only 1/64 of an inch, that doesn’t account for much and in most cases unless you have something to measure it with, or are carefully looking (with a magnifying glass) you will not even see it.
However, with proper care your kitchen cabinetry will provide a lifetime of use and satisfaction. Proper care involves a wood friendly environment – controlled temperature and humidity with minimal changes from day to day and season to season which will ensure your comfort and the temperature and humidity will also ensure the stability and life of your wood cabinetry.
But you must always keep in mind that continuous splashing from a sink or from flooding will result in damage to your wood cabinetry.
Steam can also cause problems of the same sort, whether it is from cooktops or dishwashers.
You probably know to wipe moisture from your wooden cabinetry to minimize damage. However, sometimes if excess moisture is not cleaned up immediately and the wood has a chance to absorb the moisture, an effort should be made to dry out the wood immediately. Try to use fans and dehumidifiers with moisture absorbing cloth and compounds. Please keep in mind that immediate attention reduces the amount of damage and will reduce the chances of mold and mildew.
Whether or not the writer likes the following statement, you should be aware that finishes and other coatings (laminate or foil temper) slow the transfer of moisture. It is never stopped entirely. Solid wood will dimensionally change more across the grain than with the grain; however, bear in mind that plywood, particleboard and fiberboard are more dimensionally stable.
I am sure that we have all experienced particle board and fiberboard which, when exposed to water directly, expands in thickness quickly and dramatically which in more severe cases can cause the finish at the joints to crack. Sometimes, this is much more evident on light colored paint than on stains or dark paints. (I can’t explain the reason for this.)
The crackling caused by moisture is universal and is the nature of products made from wood and is not a reason for replacement. Usually, after you have a moisture problem, if the humidity level is returned to a normal level and maintained for a period to time, these issues will disappear. The best humidity level is between 35% and 50%. Conditions lower than 20% or higher than 80% humidity must be avoided.
On the other hand, dry conditions can result in wood parts splitting and/or cracking solid wood components. The insert panels in the panel doors will shrink and the panel edges will be exposed which causes the unfinished panels in the exposed unfinished panel edges to not match the finished surface of the rest of the panel and door. Again, this is not a reason for replacement but is instead an indication that humidity levels are too low and need to be remedied.
All this aside, temperature increases the percentage which causes the materials to expand and also decreases materials to contract or shrink. Sudden temperature changes cause more dramatic changes and are more likely to lead to cracking and splitting in solid wood. It can also more likely to lead to warping, cupping and bowing in any wood components. So what temperature should you hold at for the good of your wooden cabinetry?
What a question! I usually use the rule of thumb that whatever is a comfortable temperature for me is the temperature that can do the most good for my wooden cabinetry, but if you aren’t sure yet, follow these guidelines:
- Use dehumidifiers and/or an air conditioner to control the excess humidity.
- Use a humidifier to keep the air from becoming too dry in the winter.
- Maintain your normal climate control during a vacation to reduce the risk of damage.
- Before installation of your new wooden cabinetry, acclimate the cabinetry by moving it into the room it will be in when installed. This should be done at least 48 hours before installing. If this does not work for you, place them in another area which is basically the same temperature.
Last, but not least, temperature and humidity are also affected by: proper outside drainage, adequate insulation, properly installed vapor barriers and adequate and proper ventilation and air exchange.
Source by Darwin Zhou