Winter Weather Effects on Cabinetry

Now that winter weather has arrived, and the heat is keeping your home warm and cozy, you should be aware of how it can affect cabinetry.

The wood used to build cabinetry and furniture is hygroscopic, meaning the moisture content of the wood will fluctuate based on the surrounding air. Even after being finished, wood can change. It can dry out from lack of humidity or absorb humidity from the surrounding environment. Wood furniture even tops the list from heating experts at Honeywell on Household Items Impacted By Humidity.

Because of this, the humidity in your home must be controlled; this includes seasonal and vacation homes. For proper Care and Maintenance, we recommend keeping a consistent indoor RH (relative humidity) within  35% to 50% to ensure adequate wood moisture content. Building cabinets during the winter season, we monitor and control our factory temperature and humidity. Once cabinetry is installed in your home, you must do the same to ensure their beauty and longevity.

Common effects of relative humidity to cabinetry:

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(Sahara Desert = 25% RH)

DRY AIR: Not enough humidity = wood will dry and shrink.

  • Cracking or separation of cabinet doors and/or face frame joints.
  • Warping or cracking of solid wood materials.
  • Unfinished lines exposed from door panel shrinking.
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(Rainforest = 80% RH)

HUMID AIR: Too much humidity = wood will absorb and expand.

  • Doors rubbing against each other or on face frame.
  • Cracking or separation of cabinet doors and/or face frame joints.
  • Doors breaking from door panel expansion

We have only touched the surface on the subject of humidity and wood moisture content. Still, it’s one of the most important factors for cabinet care. If you want to get technical, here is a guide from experts at Woodweb on Understanding Moisture Movement in Wood.