Protect your Cabinets from Summer Humidity

by Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2017-06-28 20:33:35

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!

protecting your custom cabinetry from humidity

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