As aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian as wood cabinets are, they can be a bit temperamental. That’s because the wood will react to changes in its environment, like moisture and direct sunlight. Wood can also adversely react to certain cleaning products. Here are some tips to keep your cabinets looking good for a long time to come.
Keep humidity in check
Wood products are best maintained in rooms with an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity range of 25% – 55%. Fluctuations in humidity means that wood will expand and contract, and signs of that expansion and contraction can become visible at the joints of doors and on the frame. These small signs are a natural characteristic that’s to be expected when cabinets are kept in rooms that maintain that ideal humidity range noted above.
However, when the relative humidity in a room rises above that 55% mark, wood will take on more moisture and may expand to the point where it splits or cracks. If a significant amount of expansion has occurred, cabinet doors can start to rub against the frame as they are opened and closed.
Avoiding excessive exposure to direct sunlight
Over time, exposure to direct sunlight can darken the colour of natural wood cabinets, and cause fading on painted and laminated surfaces. If you’re in love with the colour of your wood cabinets when they’re first installed, consider using drapes or blinds to keep your cabinets from receiving too much direct sunlight over the course of the day.
Maintaining knobs, handles, and hinges
The daily routine of opening and closing your cabinet doors and drawers will cause wear and tear on the hardware. Over time, that routine use can wear down the finish on knobs and handles. If those hardware pieces are metallic, use an appropriate metal cleaner on them. It’s also a good idea to lubricate hinges once a year to extend their lifespan and keep them operating smoothly. Keep the hinges firmly affixed to the cabinet by occasionally tightening their screws.
For routine cabinet cleaning, a soft cotton cloth dampened with warm water will do the job. For more thorough cleaning, try using a solution of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. After each cleaning, dry all cabinet surfaces with another soft cloth. Dusting is best done with a clean, soft, lint-free cotton cloth. Avoid the use of aerosol products made for dusting.
It’s important to tackle splatters and spills immediately after they occur. If left on cabinets, food, water, oil, grease, or other liquid splatters can cause permanent damage or discolouration on the cabinet’s finish.
Waxing is generally not recommended on wood cabinets, because over time wax compounds can build upon the cabinet surface, causing streaks, haze, or a yellowish appearance.
What you shouldn’t use
A number of cleaning products can damage wooden cabinets, so you’re best to avoid using:
- Ammonia, bleach, or cleaning products that contain either.
- Strong detergents or soaps, and abrasive cleaning products like tub and sink cleaners, steel wool, and scouring pads.
- Dishcloths or sponges, which can contain leftover oil or cleaning solutions, or leftover particles that may scratch the cabinet’s surface.
- Silicone-based cleaning products.
Have more questions on this topic? Contact us for all your cabinet needs.