protecting your custom cabinetry from humidity

Protect your Cabinets from Summer Humidity

by Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2017-06-02 15:44:32

Aside from your basement, the most humid areas of your home are kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms—the hub of all cooking, cleaning, and—you guessed it—moisture! Since your cabinets happen to be conveniently located in these busy areas, it is important to understand how they can be affected by humidity, especially during warm summer months.

While a couple days of high humidity probably won’t permanently alter your cabinets, you may start to notice subtle changes, such as doors and drawers that stick when opened.

Over time, the effects of high humidity can cause wood to swell, creating noticeable and sometimes permanent problems such as:

  • Warping, buckling, or bowing
  • Changes to stiles and rails on cabinet doors
  • Exposed stain lines or unfinished areas due to movement of pieces

While all wood naturally expands and contracts with temperature and humidity changes, some species of wood “move” than others. Finishes can help slow expansion and contraction on wood, but they will not stop it.

Cabinets should be designed and constructed to be able to reasonably tolerate this natural movement without compromising appearance or functionality. It is important for cabinetmakers to ensure that purchased wood has been properly dried and stored so that the finished product doesn’t contain too high a moisture content from the start. This reduces the chance for extreme movement down the road.

To protect your cabinets from humidity, take the following steps:

  1. Monitor the humidity level in your home. If you don’t have a hygrometer built in to your thermostat, purchase an inexpensive digital hygrometer. In fact, it is a good idea to have more than one, so you can place them in high humidity areas and compare the humidity levels in different areas of your home. Your hygrometer should alert you when the humidity is too high. During the summer, levels should be around 45%-55% relative humidity.
  2. Avoid opening your windows when it is humid outside. Hot, humid days are obvious, but sometimes cool days can be surprisingly humid, especially in the morning or evening.
  3. Maintain a consistent temperature inside your home. Along with keeping your house cool, a properly sized HVAC unit can work wonders at reducing indoor humidity during the summer months.
  4. Use vents or exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom.
  5. Consider dehumidifiers for humid areas, especially if vents or exhaust fans aren’t an option, or if you do not have an HVAC system.
  6. Promptly address plumbing leaks or moisture problems that could increase your home’s humidity and cause damage to surfaces.
  7. Do not allow clothes to dry inside your home.

Do you have questions or need more information? Just give us a call. We’d love to help you discover the best solution for your home!

Choosing a Countertop for You and Your Kitchen

Choosing a Countertop for You and Your Kitchen Part II

by Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2015-02-12 21:41:19

As we mentioned last time, new countertops are a great way to refresh your kitchen and add to value of your home.  Plus, they are normally a critical part of any kitchen remodel or renovation project. 

In our prior post, we discussed the more common countertops, including Granite, Marble, and Laminate.  This time, let’s take a look at the newer and/or more unusual countertops that are on the market.

These include:

Solid Surface countertops are seamless, durable, and nonporous.  Importantly, a scratch can easily be buffed out due to its accommodating composition.  But as these countertops are susceptible to heat, a cutting board is a must.

Soapstone countertops are relatively durable, stain- and bacteria-resistant, and definitely unique in appearance.  In fact, no two Soapstone countertops will ever be the same.  While durable, soapstone is softer than most other surfaces and prone to scratching, pitting, and other damage.  Some maintenance may also be required if you desire surface consistency as the countertop ages.

Concrete countertops can offer nearly unlimited design options relative to color, shape, and edge profiles.  Likewise, a concrete countertop is highly durable and stain-resistant when sealed.  However, the sealer can also hinder heat resistance, a tradeoff the homeowner will need to consider.  

Bamboo countertops are not just for the tropical get-a-ways!  With pricing comparable to other hardwood options, Bamboo can be an excellent renewable, environmentally-friendly choice.  However, it is susceptible to heat and, despite its strength, can be nicked and dented. 

Copper countertops are truly beautiful and can quickly add character to your kitchen.  They are easy to clean, and by nature, are anti-bacterial.   Depending on your tastes, though, a change in color when in contact with various substances can be a plus – or a negative.    Copper can also scratch and dent easily, resulting in even more “character” over time.

Pewter countertops are easily stamped and formed.  As a result, Pewter can accommodate nearly any shape and used for decorative, unique edges. Original Pewter contained lead and was not recommended for surfaces that would contact food.  Today’s Pewter, however, is typically lead-free and can be used for countertops, backsplashes, and more.  Soft by nature, Pewter can be scratched and dented.

Zinc countertops are unique as they are beautiful.  Plus, they are resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew.  Like other metal countertops, Zinc can scratch and dent and are susceptible to marks from hot pans. 

IceStone® (or Bio-Glass) countertops are made from recycled glass and cement.  If looking for an eco-friendly countertop, this may be your solution!  They are durable, relatively nonporous, and heat-resistant.  However, they are prone to cuts and scratches and require regular sealing.

Paper Composite (such as PaperStone®) countertops are a composite material made from post-consumer recycled paper.  These countertops are durable, relatively heat- & stain-resistant, and easy to clean.  They do, however, require sealing and shouldn’t be cleaned with abrasive materials.  Some scratching can occur, as can staining on lighter colors.

That rounds out our discussion on the many countertops that we’ve seen used in kitchen and bathroom remodeling & renovation projects as well as new construction.  If you have questions or need more information, just give us a call!

Check back again! We’ll continue to add helpful information for your remodeling, renovation, and new home projects.

marble countertops from lutes custom cabinetry

Choosing a Countertop for You and Your Kitchen Part I

by Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2015-01-15 17:15:58

New countertops are a great way to refresh your kitchen and add to value of your home.  Plus, they are normally a critical part of any kitchen remodel or renovation project. 

Before choosing your new countertop, however, you should ask three important questions. 

  1. First, what is my budget and how much can I afford?  You don’t want to reach the halfway point and discover you’re out of money! 
  2. Secondly, what is the “look” I am trying to achieve? 
  3. Finally (and if not remodeling the entire kitchen), what color and textures will complement the rest of my kitchen? 

Answer these questions and you are on your way to new kitchen countertops!

As there are many choices available, we would like to provide an overview of the pros and cons of the most common countertops.  In the first half of our “Choosing a Countertop” discussion, we’ll take a closer look at some of the more common surfaces.  Then in the second half, we’ll discover some of the newer and/or more unique countertops that homeowners are enjoying! 

Let’s take a closer look:

Granite countertops offer plenty of character through unique grain patterns.  For endurance, however, sealing is the number one priority.

Quartz, an engineered stone, is tough, nonporous, and eco-friendly.  However, it’s not heat resistant so additional care must be taken to protect it from hot surfaces.

Marble countertops are heat resistant and the mainstay of classic elegance.  Just ask any pastry baker you know!  Everyone loves their unique patterns that come in countless color tones.  While beautiful, the relative soft surface will etch and scratch.  Accordingly, nonabrasive cleaning products are required to protect the surface when cleaning.

Laminate countertops are the surface of choice for budget-conscience homeowners.  These materials are available in countless patterns and colors.  Wood grains to glossy to marble-like looks are all available.   Unfortunately, laminates are more susceptible to heat damage.  Plus, they can take on an older, dull appearance as more scratches and dents occur. 

Butcher Block countertops go with nearly all styles.  They are truly beautiful and add warmth to any kitchen.  Importantly, Butcher Block countertops are easy on knives and other cutting utensils and your options are limited only by available hardwood species.  As a natural wood product, surfaces can be damaged by sharp edges and hot items.  Proper (and regular) sealing can limit this and other damage from water and chemicals.  Likewise, sealing will prevent germs from residing on the porous wood surface.

Tile countertops can offer homeowners a complete new look at an affordable price.  Tile is durable and offers a wide array of selections that allow one’s creative sense to reign supreme in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, keeping the grout clean may become a least favorite household chore.  Likewise, rolling pie dough on a tiled surface will be a little more difficult.

Stainless Steel countertops are the mainstay of commercial kitchens.  Stain-resistant, easy to clean, durable, and long-lasting are all factors that make them worthy of consideration for your home, too.  However, water spots, smudges, and fingerprints are hard to keep at bay. 

As you can see, there are many countertop options from which to choose.  Next time, we’ll take a look at some other countertop materials, such as Solid Surface, Soapstone, and more!

Do you have questions or need more information?  Just give us a call.  We’d love to help you discover the best solution for your home!