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Effects of Moisture in Wood

Under normal circumstances, all wood products contain some moisture. Wood is similar to a sponge in that it easily exchanges moisture with the environment. This is true of all wood products, even after they have been finished. Of course, a finish will slow this process, but finished wood will still react to changes in humidity.

When humidity is high, wood will absorb moisture and expand. During times of low humidity, wood will release moisture and contract. Wood will not change size or shape unless its moisture content changes due to humidity. When subjected to high humidity, wood primarily changes in width and thickness. As normal minor variations in humidity occur, the dimensional response of the wood will be imperceptible. To avoid problems, it is recommended that the relative household humidity is maintained in the 40-50% range.

Humidity extremes (above 80% or below 20%) are likely to cause problems. Wood products perform best when correctly used in a controlled environment. Problems associated with warping are usually a result of conditions at site storage, installation or use.


Regular cleaning should be done with a soft cotton cloth and a mild, non-abrasive household cleaner.

Never use abrasive pads or sponges or alcohol, acetone or acetate cleaners.

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