Wood Moisture Content & Product Dependability

23 MARCH, 2013 BY JIM HILL

New home Cabinet Doors and remodeled homes with Replacement Cabinet Doors can face a difficult environment if relative humidity is left uncontrolled. Here's why.

Ideally the wood moisture content in Kitchen Cabinet Doors will be matched to the average relative humidity of the region where the wood product will be used. This will allow the wood's moisture content to be stable. When the wood moisture content and the local climate is closely matched, the finish on the cabinet door will keep the moisture content in the door from reacting too rapidly to relative humidity changes and, therefore prevent the damage those humidity swings could cause to an unfinished door.

Wood with moisture content of 7% is said to be at equilibrium (that is it won't take-on or give-off moisture) when relative humidity is at 30%. So wood with a moisture content of 7% will be stable when the humidity is 30%. As the relative humidity increases above 30% wood at 7% moisture content will absorb moisture, increasing the wood's moisture content. When relative humidity decreases below 30% wood at 7% moisture will give off moisture. It's not the gaining or losing of moisture that is potentially damaging to wood products, it's the speed of the change in moisture content. Unfinished wood will see the end-grain change moisture levels at a much faster rate than the center of the wood piece, and wood with large differences in moisture content across the length will develop significant internal stress. This internal stress can result in catastrophic damages, like cupping, warping, and even serious splitting.

Humidity is seldom constant and changes in relative humidity are certain. That's where the cabinet doors finish offers protection. The finish is not intended to completely protect the door from the effects of humidity changes. But it is designed to slow the changes to the wood's moisture content with the humidity fluctuations. When a rain storm approaches the relative humidity will spike but the finish on the cabinet doors will slow that high humidity from being absorbed into your doors so quickly as to cause damage. Moisture will still enter the doors, but before the wood moisture content is significantly increased, the storm will have passed and relative humidity will have returned to a point closer to the regions average level.

A more serious condition exists when an unfinished wood product has acclimated to a humidity level above 70%. If wood which has stabilized at this relative humidity is subjected to a very dry climate, with relative humidity levels around 10-15%, the high moisture content in the wood will boil-off very quickly. This condition where moisture leaves the end-grain faster than the moisture leaves the center (to replace it) is typically the major cause on end-grain splits. While end-grain splits are not even abnormal in hardwood lumber, that same end-grain split in the panel-cut of your Raised Panel Cabinet Door would be a serious defect.

The door styles most likely to show splits are Raised Panel Cabinet Doors. The area most susceptible to damage from rapid moisture loss is the end-grain on the raised panels. These panel cuts are where the panels are machined down from the A three-quarter inch thickness in the center to a one-quarter inch thickness where the panel tongue fits into the groove machined into the Rails. Splits caused by rapid moisture loss are common in these panel end-grains. Splits in the three-quarter inch thick panel center are much less common.

All traditional cope & stick cabinet doors have exposed end-grain on the stile ends which can show splitting with rapid moisture loss, although not as likely as the raised panel end-grain.

Mitered doors have the stile end-grain slightly protected because of their design so stile end-grain splits are somewhat less likely than in traditional doors.

It's important to remember that we are talking about the worst-case of an Unfinished cabinet door being exposed to an extreme climate change. While this perfect-storm of events is likely to damage unfinished cabinet doors, there is a preventive solution; Finish your cabinet doors as soon as they are delivered!

As a rule of thumb, wood products manufactured in a damp climate and shipped into a dry climate, unless finished very soon after delivery, have a high degree of potential danger, while wood products made in a dry climate can usually be shipped into a wet climate (or any other climate) with minimal likelihood of damage. This is because most climate-caused damage to a cabinet door comes from rapid moisture loss, and damage from rapid moisture gain is far less likely. That is one of the mail reasons we built our factory in Arizona. Arizona's dry climate allows our products to be shipped anywhere in the country with very little risk of climate related damage to the product.

The sealer and lacquer will slow the moisture migration, even in extreme climate conditions, to a point where your new doors will be a dependable, reliable, and beautiful addition to your home for generations.

When considering a location to place your unfinished cabinet doors prior to finishing, ask yourself this question; would this be a place I would store an expensive piano or other piece of fine wood furniture?

Cabinet Doors 101: measure openings, install hinges, hanging and alignment.

Search

CabinetDoors.Com is proud to have an A+ BBB Rating

Your Cart
Cart is empty
Customer Reviews

Your Youtube videos are outstanding. You made measuring and hanging my new doors a snap. Thank you. Jen A.

I ordered new cabinet doors for my upper cabinets in my kitchen. They needed to match the bottom doors. Thanks to your very knowledgeable staff, I got perfect doors--the grain matched, the trim matched, and the hardware is outstanding. I am delighted and would recommend this company without reservation. Thank you for an outstanding product. Madge S.

My order of cabinet doors was delivered today, and I could not be more pleased. They are BEAUTIFUL. Thank you so much for making a great product.Stacy K.

I'm a home re-modeling handyman and I just finished a kitchen remodel using your Shaker Doors. This was my first order from you and the sizes and overall quality are much better than my prior supplier. You helped my make my customer very happy.Mike B.

This was my 4th kitchen re-model with your cabinet doors and, just like before, the doors were perfect. The workmanship is top notch and the sanding was exceptional. My 5th kitchen job is scheduled for August and I'll be ordering from you again. You make a great door.Kent's Kitchens

We ordered replacement doors for our 60-year-old home and were very pleased with the product. The milling was of the highest quality. The joinery was very well done, and the wood selection was obviously done by a professional who cares what the finished product looks like. It is one thing to assemble a project with technical skill, and another thing entirely to accomplish the assembly with an eye toward bringing the best out of the wood being used. Both aspects were accomplished, and at a very high level! The dimensions were absolutely perfect. Each door was correctly dimensioned to within less than 1/16 of an inch. It was very pleasing to see this attention to detail, especially since I took the time to measure my cabinets twice, making sure I had done my part. I had never worked with white birch before, and when I saw the issues with staining the wood (soft grain with blotchy absorption of the stain) I was a bit worried. I had no problems at all because the wood was of a higher quality white birch that had been properly handled at the mill and sanded to a stain-ready finish. A good sanding sealer was applied, and then the stain. The results were EXCELLENT! All-in-all, we received a great product, great advice and excellent customer service from CabinetDoors.com. We would certainly recommend them to anyone looking for cabinet doors. Nice job, everyone! Michael R.

The doors arrived today and fit perfectly. Thank you very much. I will be ordering the remaining 18 doors and 6 drawer fronts in the next couple of months. Walter W.

I remodel kitchens for a living and I can only say...I wish I had found you sooner. These are the overall BEST cabinet Doors I have ever installed. Excellent quality and workmanship. Jake A.

Your cabinet doors are much higher quality than the doors that were installed by our home builder. There is really no comparison, you make a GREAT product. Al N.

The contractor remodeling our kitchen was so impressed with the doors we ordered from your website that he is going to use your doors for all his future jobs. Marcia N.

Your cabinet doors, and the finishing tips in your blog, made my kitchen remodel look GREAT. I recommend your doors to everyone. Kay H.

Hi, I have received my 1 door, and I feel like I received the same quality service and product as if it were 50 doors. I am very pleased with a beautiful door delivered as promised. Thanks, David H.

Although I haven't bought the cabinet doors for my kitchen remodeling project yet, I will be making my purchase from cabinetdoors.com. Your site, and especially your Blog, has more useful information than I've found anywhere else on the internet. The information you provide is exceptional and you have helped to give me the confidence to take-on this project. Nancie D.

We took your advice and ordered the smallest door in our kitchen to see your quality...which is absolutely great...Now we are ordering the rest of the kitchen and bath doors. Don & Barb B.

These cabinet doors are PERFECT! Super high quality and right-on size. Harry D.

So glad we remodeled our kitchen with your doors, instead of doors from the hardware chain. You saved us over 35%. The doors arrived in 12 days, (including 4 Fedex shipping days). The hardware chain quoted 28 days, and your quality is far better than their samples. Mark H.

These doors are EXCELLENT! In quality and workmanship and value. Very glad we found you. James L.

A friend put me onto your website and I can't thank her enough. You make an excellent product and I'm completely happy with everything about my purchase. Paula B.

I am very satisfied with these doors. The quality is GREAT!. Alex D.

Very nice cabinet doors, the color matching and the sizes are right-on. Paul L.

Your customer service is fantastic. Somehow you spotted an error I made on my order (I reversed width and height on one door) and called me to ask if the size was correct. Your attention to detail prevented me from ordering one of my doors wrong. Thank you so much. Bryan E.

Shipping Times

Fedex or UPS Shipping time from our factory to you.

Our production time is 7-10 days. Just add shipping to your state for your expected delivery date.

Delivery times

For shipping times to Mexico and Canada Please call.

My Profile
Wood Selection