Don’t Let Warped Cabinets Ruin Your Project

Good-fitting cabinet doors don’t just happen—always pay attention to moisture before, during, and after installation.

Good-fitting cabinet doors don’t just happen—always pay attention to moisture before, during, and after installation.

Nothing is worse than revamping a whole kitchen only for the cabinet doors to be ruined by warping.

Suddenly you think about all you put into your project: the loss of your time and money investment is enough to shed a tear. But what about the emotional investment? Sure, they may have only been for a client of yours, but you loved those Hunter Club Forest Green cabinets. You even took a picture to post on social. Already had a caption and everything.

Now what? Do you scrap the whole thing?

Well, hopefully, you have created a system for preventing this before the damage gets done because you certainly have things you can do to prevent this kind of devastation.

Knowing how to properly care for your wood before, during, and after installation is crucial.

Why do cabinet doors warp?

Moisture is the culprit.

Even one warped cabinet door—caused by moisture imbalance—can make the whole finished project look horrible.

If one door doesn’t shut right, your eye will be drawn to it. And if it stands out to you, you can bet it’ll catch the eye of a mother-in-law.

But why is this moisture even an issue?

Wood is obsessed with the moisture in the air and always wants to fit in with it. In fact, wood’s infatuation with water makes it hygroscopic, which means wood likes to absorb or release moisture in the air until it reaches EMC.

EMC, or equilibrium moisture content, happens when wood stops absorbing or releasing moisture. When wood absorbs moisture, it expands. When it releases moisture, it shrinks. These changes are what cause most issues in wood projects, including warping.

Only when the wood reaches its stable EMC is it ready to be used, installed, or finished.

If you jump ahead in the process and install or finish the wood before EMC, your cabinets are way more likely to have warping issues.

So, what do you do? How do you satisfy the wood’s EMC?

Easily: Let it acclimate.

Wood needs to acclimate to its surroundings before installation. And even before that, it’s preferred to store wood in an environment similar to its end location. But regardless of where it was stored, it’s always recommended to allow enough time for the wood to acclimate to its end environment.

If you rush to install the wood before then, it won’t save you time. In fact, that practice alone will likely ruin a project.

But where does all this moisture come from, anyway?

kitchen with breakfast nook

For your cabinet project to turn out exactly as you envision, you must allow ample time for the wood to acclimate properly to the surrounding environment.


Vague, but true. Moisture is everywhere.

If you live in a humid environment, moisture is in the air. And if you’ve ever gone running outside in many parts of the country, you’ve had a firsthand experience with that moisture.

Moisture could also come from specific areas in a home. If the cabinets are in the bathroom, hot showers could contribute to the problem. The mirror isn’t the only place moisture goes, it’s just the most immediately visible.

Or if the cabinets are in the kitchen or laundry room, think about all the water associated with those rooms. Even if you’re careful, cabinets get splashed all the time.

Okay, maybe just sprinkled, but you get it. Moisture is in everything, and it’s pretty unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean it should ruin your beautiful bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room cabinets.

No. There’s something you can do.

There’s one, specific tool that can help you fight back.

Do I really need a wood moisture meter?

Orion 930

The use of a wood moisture meter is essential for ensuring that the wood has reached equilibrium moisture content and won’t be subject to moisture problems.

Absolutely. Yes. 100%.

If you want your project to be a success, no doubt about it, you need a wood moisture meter.

Why? Well, off the top of your head, do you know what the proper EMC is for your end environment? Do you know your wood’s current moisture content (MC)? Can just one look at your wood tell you if it’s acclimated?

Wouldn’t that be a dream come true…

But no, you need moisture measurement tools for that information!

If you don’t measure for moisture in the wood, you’re at risk for the wood to warp or experience other problems. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

But what would happen if you used an accurate and reliable wood moisture meter?

No more…

  • Guessing about EMC
  • Eyeballing the acclimation process
  • Headaches about ruined projects
  • Unhappy customers or mother-in-laws

Can you picture a life like that? That’s what moisture meters can do for you.

What do I do with wood moisture meter readings?

Sure, there’s more to the project than simply acquiring the tool and getting the reading. Once you know the MC of the wood, you’ll need to react.

Reactions vary, but they could look like this:

  • Drying the wood
  • Moving the wood to an environment with the same end-use EMC
  • Allowing more time for the acclimation process
  • Installing the wood

That’s right, installation could be your next step. But how could you know without a moisture meter?

Now that you know just how much of a huge help a moisture meter could be, it’s time to consider investing in one for yourself. After all, you just don’t have it in you to let another project be ruined. And honestly, it’s not the problem you should deal with anyways. You’ve got a life to live.

If you’re ready to let moisture issues be a thing of the past, then it’s time to meet the Orion series of meters. Learn more about how an Orion wood moisture meter can help you get back to living here, at Wagner Meters.

Last updated on July 20th, 2023

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