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Question 4. How will the environment impact my new cabinets?

By its very nature, wood moves to expand and contract as it absorbs and releases moisture into the environment. As wood absorbs moisture, the wood grain expands, and conversely, when the wood releases moisture the wood grain contracts and shrinks. The wood will expand and contract disproportionately meaning in unequal directions. The resulting movements can emphasize joints on cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and front frames to be more pronounced even though they are a “finished” product with stain, sealer coat, and top coat applied. Miter joints are more susceptible to open or gap as result in humidity level fluctuations. In most cases, the wood product will return to “normal” position if not exposed to extremes of humidity for a prolonged period and maintained in a stable atmospheric environment. These changes are caused by the environment and are not considered a manufacturing defect.

Humid environments by definition contain a high amount of moisture in the air. Cabinets exposed to these high humidity levels will absorb excessive moisture and therefore expand or swell. This means that joints, scratches and other imperfections may become more pronounced and visible to the naked eye. If wood products are exposed to humid condition for a prolonged period of time, they may not return to their normal condition once the atmospheric conditions become more stable. Arid or dry climates can also result in wood movement. The moisture in the wood product has been absorbed by the environment causing the wood to dry. Shrinkage of wood can cause joints to open and become more pronounced and magnify and scratches and other imperfections, even though the product has a stain, sealer coat, and top coat applied. Wood products exposed to arid environment for a short period of time may regain moisture and return to their normal condition in the appropriate atmospheric conditions.

Keep an eye on the humidity inside your home. Reasonably accurate digital thermometer-hygrometer units are available from general goods retailers and hardware stores. Maintain the humidity between 30% and 50% at all times. There are several ways this may be accomplished. Installing a whole-house humidifier on the furnace is the best method for dry climates. Running a portable humidifier in key areas also helps. In very humid climates, air conditioning helps to dry down the air to the desired range.