How to prevent damage to unfinished cabinet doors prior to finishing
All unfinished wood products are completely unprotected from damage caused by warping of the wood and splitting from the end-grain. This warping and splitting is likely to occur with swings in relative humidity or temperature on any unfinished wood products. Here are a few tips on how to minimize or prevent these problems when the wood products cannot be properly finished upon delivery.
As soon as possible after delivery, place your new cabinet doors in a temperature controlled space away from direct sunlight. Make sure that air can circulate freely to all sides of each door.
If the doors are stacked one on top of the other, air will only circulate over the exposed surface of the top door which will allow moisture gain or loss only from that exposed surface. This will cause a moisture mismatch between the face and back of that door and will cause it to warp. If the humidity change is large, end-grain cracking is also likely to occur.
Understanding the nature of wood will help in avoiding and/or correcting problems caused by changes in humidity. For instance, if the doors were stacked and the top door warps, the direction of the warp will indicate whether the door lost, or gained, moisture.
If the top door warped in a concave direction, the exposed surface lost moisture. But, because the air circulated only on one side of the door on top of the stack, the top door warped in a concave direction.
If the warping is minor, it can sometimes be corrected by wiping the concave side of the door panel with a damp sponge, to introduce moisture back into the surface that lost moisture through evaporation.
It's best to avoid stacking the unfinished doors and instead, stand them up and lean them against another surface allowing air to circulate freely around the front and back of each door. This will allow the same level of humidity on both front and back of each door and warping will be prevented.
These precautions will minimize warping problems for a few days but for longer term protection proper sealing and finishing will be necessary.
Some cabinet door finishing tips are available at the CabinetDoors.Com blog.
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