Effects of Humidity on Cabinets

Hardwood cabinet components like face frames, doors, and headers are made of a natural material — wood — which has great character and personality. But natural wood also has some inherent limitations that should be understood. This is true of all wood in the home: furniture, millwork and cabinetry.

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Unlike synthetic material, natural wood is not dimensionally stable, meaning it will expand and contract under certain conditions. Complicating matters further, wood does not expand and contract in a uniform way. It does so more across the grain than along the grain.  It can even warp in extreme cases.

Things to Remember

Door Construction

Most cabinet doors are made of five parts: Four pieces that make up the outer frame, and the inner center panel. The notch that the center panel fits into is a bit oversized, to allow some expansion and contraction of the large center panel. This helps prevent warping, but can still open visible joint lines.

Material Matters

Paint grade doors use HDM for the center panel which minimizes expansion and contraction, but joint lines may still appear because paint grade doors have natural wood frames that will expand and contract more than the HDM center panel.

The Best Option

The Showplace HDM door styles are our most dimensionally stable. They are the best choice for painted cabinetry in coastal regions, or other areas of high humidity.

By its nature, wood is “hygroscopic,” meaning it naturally absorbs and releases moisture in its environment. These changes in moisture content may result in dimensional changes that can happen gradually over time, or happen suddenly with seasonal changes or changes in humidity within the home. When these natural dimensional changes occur, joinery lines can appear that were not visible before. For instance: As wood swells and contracts due to seasonal humidity changes, a joint where a stile and rail meet can open up slightly, showing a line that was not previously visible. When exposed to drier air, door center panels will contract, exposing a visible line next to the stile until moisture is restored. These are inherent characteristics of wood, are not considered flaws, and are not covered under the Showplace warranty.

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  • The most important thing you can do is stabilize the humidity in the home. Heating systems dry out the air in the winter, causing wood to contract. Taking steps to maintain proper relative humidity year-round will keep your cabinetry more stable. We recommend 30% to 55% relative humidity.
  • Air conditioning helps, as it removes some humidity from the air. But additional steps, like a dehumidifier, may still be needed in some locations and climates.
  • Seasonal homes, especially those near water, should be heated and air conditioned, even when not in use. Maintain a reasonable interior temperature of 40 to 90 degrees F.
  • If you want painted cabinetry and possible joint lines are a major issue to you, choose one of the Showplace MDF door styles.
  • Consider one of our slab door styles with solid MDF cores and a veneered surface. They show no joints and are very stable.
  • Our best recommendation is to accept wood for what it is, and look on dimensional changes as another aspect of the unique personality of a lovely, variable natural material.

How Do I Care for My Stained or Painted Cabinets?

Showplace cabinetry is designed and crafted to stand up to rigorous daily use. No special or unique care is required. Simple common-sense precautions and practices will keep your Showplace cabinets looking great for years to come.

Please be aware that the Showplace warranty does not apply to finishes that are exposed for prolonged periods of time to tobacco smoke and/or other smoke sources.

Horizontal surfaces: If your cabinetry uses finished wood for horizontal surfaces, remember these precautions:

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Do not slide items across the surface. Rather, pick them up and set them down.

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Make sure plants are in pots that will not seep water onto the wood, and take care that leaves do not touch the wood.

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Use coasters under glasses, and hot pads under pots and pans.

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Never set synthetic materials like rubber or plastic directly on the wood. The synthetic chemicals can damage the finish. Likewise, inks from printed materials can transfer into the finish.

Wiping Cabinet

Basic Care Tips

  • Wipe up spills, splatters and water spots as they occur. Keep cabinets dry.
  • Clean as needed with a soft, lint-free cloth. Use mild detergent or soap and warm water. Dry surfaces immediately with a soft cloth.
  • Avoid using a dishcloth or sponge, which could contain remnants of grease or detergents. Do not use products with bleach, ammonia or abrasive additives.
  • Never use scouring pads, steel wool or powdered cleaners.
    Do not allow oven cleaners to come in contact with wood finishes.
  • Avoid placing small kitchen appliances where heat is directed onto cabinet surfaces.
  • Avoid draping damp clothes or dish towels over cabinet doors. Excessive moisture can cause permanent damage.

How to Care for Acrylic Surface Cabinets

Showplace cabinets with acrylic surfaces require care that is specific to these cabinets only because they are not wood materials finished with paint or stain. Here are ways to clean and care for these special surfaces.

Gray gloss and white kitchen cabinets

High-gloss Acrylic Tips

  • Do not store panels outside or in direct sunlight.
  • Clean with a wet micro-fiber cloth or chamois.
  • Use water or mild soap and water combo.
  • Never dry-wipe the acrylic finish.
  • Avoid acetone, harsh household cleaners and abrasives including paper towels, brushes and scouring pads.
  • Ultra-gloss super polish kits are required and are available from your Showplace dealer.