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Wood Characteristics - Moisture Effects

Effects of Moisture

Any solid wood product will expand over time as moisture and climate conditions change
Effects of moisture may include:
  • Panel expansion
  • Joint expansion or opening (especially on miter joint doors)
  • Stile bowing
  • Panel contraction (may result in white line if finished)
  • Stile/rail expansion

Southern or Humid Climates

Southern or humid climates are especially susceptible to expansion due to moisture
Locations include:
  • Waterfront properties
  • Coastal regions
  • Gulf coast, especially Florida
Marine applications, such as boats and yachts, are considered high humidity regardless of any climate control systems
Non-air conditioned homes, regardless of location, are very susceptible to expansion due to moisture
Winter and vacation homes should maintain some form of climate control, even in off-season

Tips for Avoiding Moisture-Related Problems

Certain wood types, primarily Hard Maple, have a tendency to expand more than others. For details, see chart
If expansion in doors occurs prior to installation on cabinet box, air conditioning will usually return doors to normal

Potential Wood Movement Chart

This chart indicates how much a 12" wide panel can change in size depending on moisture.

WOOD TYPEWIDTH IN INCHES AT
5% HUMIDITY
WIDTH IN INCHES AT
14% HUMIDITY 
WOOD MOVEMENT IN INCHES CAUSED BY 9% SWING IN MOISTURE
Red Oak 12 12.29 0.29
Hard Maple 12 12.27 0.27
Soft Maple 12 12.27 0.27
Cherry 12 12.23 0.23 
Hickory 12 12.29 0.29 

In general, Masco Cabinetry manufactures its products at a moisture content of 6% to 8%, depending on the season.