Wood Moisture Content & Product Dependability

New home Cabinet Doors and remodeled homes with Replacement Cabinet Doors can face a difficult environment if the relative humidity is left uncontrolled. The relationship between the two is important because it can help determine whether a cabinet door will warp or crack, which can be expensive to repair. It is crucial to practice cabinet acclimation before installing cabinet doors in the kitchen.

Moisture Content in Cabinet Doors

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.

Wood with a moisture content of 7% is said to be at equilibrium (that 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 in Cabinet Doors

Cabinet doors do not typically have a problem with high humidity levels. The wood materials behind the door (such as shelving and drawer faces) are most susceptible to damage from water. However, there are certain circumstances where the door itself will deteriorate and expose the interior contents to moisture. For example, if the doors on a wine cellar are not properly vented, they can suck air in from outside and cause condensation on the inside of the glass. Another common reason for high humidity behind cabinet doors is water leaking through improperly installed gaskets or seals.

A more serious condition exists when an unfinished wood product has acclimated to a humidity level above 70%. If the wood has stabilized at this relative humidity and 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 of 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.

Around 10% to 15% relative humidity of wood is considered normal for most cabinet doors, but there are exceptions for food storage areas. How to control humidity in a cabinet to maintain a consistent moisture content level is also important, so you don't have to perform cabinet door treatments more often than necessary. This can be done by adding a humidifier or dehumidifier in the area where your cabinets are located. If that is not possible, then you will need to install a moisture-level gauge so you'd know when it's time for another treatment. For instance, if you're using solid wood doors with no weatherstripping between your door and a wall or other object, then you don't need to worry too much about humidity. However, if you're using a composite door that has many components, then you'll likely need to keep humidity at or below 50% RH. Cabinet doors have been optimized for humidity conditions between 50/55 and 60/60, and therefore, you should keep your cabinet doors out of the sun, in the shade when possible, and should not be exposed to direct sunlight for so long.

Temperature in Cabinet Doors

Temperatures in cabinet doors vary depending on the materials used to build them, with some reaching as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This can damage your food and appliances if the temperature is not controlled properly. By adjusting the thermostats of your cabinets, you can maintain a temperature more appropriate for your appliances and food. To maintain accurate temperatures in the cabinets, you need to adjust your thermostat. This will allow you to determine where the temperature is most consistent in your kitchen and which parts of the room need more or less heat. This is most critical with cabinet doors made of wood, which are susceptible to damage at high temperatures.

Depend on our team at CabinetDoors.com to carefully craft the high-quality cabinet doors you want, and follow all of the tips above so your cabinets can last forever. Learn more by consulting our comprehensive FAQ page, or contact us online today with any additional questions.

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