After a new kitchen install, it is important to keep it well maintained. Often after a new kitchen install, homeowners forget that there is still maintenance and upkeep of their new kitchen. When using natural woods, it is crucial that it gets regular routine maintenance and care. Proper care includes using the right cleaning methods, but more importantly, keeping the environment wood friendly. By controlling the temperature and humidity in your kitchen, you are insuring that the natural woods in your kitchen will have longevity.
Humidity and a home’s internal climate can change daily, that is why it is important to ensure that you keep things balanced. Here are a few tips and facts to help you get the most out of your kitchen.
How moisture can affect cabinetry
Single long term or repeated short term exposure to excessive moisture can cause serious damage. Splashing of surfaces from a sink or even a single longer term event such as flooding typically ends in irreversible damage to the wood.
Your taller cabinets and moldings can warp, crack and peal from steam created by hot water in sinks or over cook tops and counter top cooking appliances if they are not properly sealed.
It is always good practice to wipe any moisture from wood surfaces immediately after contact to avoid any damage. If any excess moisture is absorbed, damage can increase over time as the wood slowly deteriorates.
- Wood expands as humidity increases and shrinks as humidity decreases.
- Solid wood will dimensionally change more across grain than with grain.
- Plywood, particleboard and fiberboard are more dimensionally stable.
- Fiberboard and particle board when exposed to direct moisture will expand in thickness quickly and dramatically.
- Untreated or unfinished wood will show the most dramatic changes
- Even treated or finished wood will change with long term variances in humidity.
- Humidity’s effect can be slowed by the use of finishes and other coatings such as laminate or foil. While they don’t completely prevent humidity effects, it does help to keep them at bay.
- Optimal humidity is: 35% to 50% relative humidity.
- Try to avoid extreme conditions (lower than 20% or higher than 80%)
Too dry of conditions can pose a risk as well
- Exposed, unfinished panel edges will start to not match the surface of the rest of the panel and door due to splitting or shrinkage. It will also start to show the panel edging.
- Extremely dry conditions can lead to cracking in solid wood components.
- The exposed, unfinished panel edges will not match the finished surface of the rest of the panel and door.
- While immediate replacement is not necessary, it is important to adjust your humidity levels in time to save your cabinetry.
- The more you vary your kitchen’s temperature, the more risk you run of permanent damage.
- Increased Temperature increases can cause materials to expand.
- Decreased temperature can cause materials to shrink or contract.
- Increased/decreased heat is more likely to cause cracking, and splitting in solid wood.
- Increased/decreased heat is more likely to cause warping, cupping and bowing in any wood components.
Finding the Balance
- Using dehumidifiers and / or air conditioners in extreme seasonal heat will help control excess humidity as well as help with any dryness.
- Maintaining climate control during the colder off seasonal climates of any home help reduces the damage risks from both humidity and dryness.
- Prior to cabinet install, you can get your building materials acclimated by storing them in the room that they will be built in to and should be done well in advance of the install.
- Don’t store building materials in your garage or basement as these areas are not normally insulated to keep delicate materials free from excess dryness and humidity.
- Temperature and humidity are also affected by: Adequate insulation, proper outside drainage, proper ventilation and air flow and properly installed vapor barriers.
These small tips can help you enjoy your new cabinetry for a long time. If ever in doubt of the type of care and maintenance your kitchen needs, feel free to reach out to our specialists at MTD Kitchens!