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Impact of Humidity on Wood Kitchen Cabinets

April 30, 2019

When it comes to cabinets or any other item made primarily from wood, humidity is a factor you have to consider. Referring to the level of moisture in a given room or area, humidity plays a role in cabinet quality due to the way it impacts the size of wood at a given moment.

At Swirl Woodcraft, we’re happy to explain how humidity may impact any of our beautiful rustic, modern or traditional kitchen cabinet options. Here are some basics to know in this area, including how the typical Utah climate plays a role here.

impact humidity wood kitchen cabinets

Humidity Level Basics

In most cases, the cabinets in your home will be manufactured at a humidity range in between 40 and 50 percent. This is considered a fairly average range for most humans to be in, and one that ideal homes will generally sit in most of the time as well. It also allows for some fluctuation in basic range due to cooking, showering or other related activities.

Utah, however, is known as an extremely dry place. It’s common to find lower humidity levels than other places in the country, particularly during the winter, when things dry out even more than normal. When humidity reaches the 20 percent range or even below, cabinets are at risk of shrinking due to the impact this has on wood. Similarly, if you overreact and swing your home’s humidity beyond 70 percent or so, you risk swelling of wood cabinets that can significantly impact their alignment and function.

Tracking Humidity Levels

If you’re worried about cabinets shrinking or swelling due to humidity, the first step is to purchase a digital hygrometer, an instrument that measures humidity in the air. This can be bought at any home improvement store, and can give you a quick reading of the humidity percentage at any given time.

Controlling Humidity

Humidity should never go below 20 percent for any reason, and should always be above 35 percent during non-freezing weather. If your humidity is regularly too low, you can invest in humidifiers – either for the whole home or for specific rooms that have these issues. Be sure not to overcorrect and humidify things too heavily, however, as this can lead to swelling.

Signs to Look For

One sign that you’ve gone too far with your humidity levels, apart from the cabinets beginning to swell, is condensation on the windows. This means the outdoor humidity level is far lower than that inside your home. This will actually usually be the first thing you notice – it takes cabinets a few days or weeks to respond to changes in humidity, so you may not notice these changes right away.

For more on humidity and your cabinets, or to learn about any of our custom cabinetry or bathroom vanities, speak to the staff at Swirl Woodcraft today.