Unlike your kitchen, your bathroom constantly has to deal with moisture in the air from showers and baths.

Since it’s a more humid environment, you have to think carefully about what types of materials to use and how to care for your bathroom cabinets.

With proper care, it’s easy to control how moisture affects your cabinets and ensure they last for years to come.

Humidity + Wood = Damage

Humidity isn’t exactly wood’s best friend. In fact, your bathroom cabinets hate all those hot showers you take. Wood expands as humidity increases. As the humidity lessens, the wood starts to shrink again. It’s important to note that if a room is too dry, this can actually cause the wood to wear out faster too.

Even finished wood is affected, though it will last longer than unfinished varieties. The closer your bathroom cabinets are to your shower or sink, the more likely they are to be damaged. While your kitchen cabinets can be affected, your bathroom usually sees more fluctuations in humidity and temperature than your kitchen.

While it’s impossible to prevent humidity fluctuations in your bathroom, it’s still possible to take precautions to make your cabinets last longer. For instance, choosing the right material and reducing humidity both help add years to your cabinets.

Choosing The Right Material

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that some materials react more severely to prolonged exposure to humidity. In most cases, the cheaper the material, the more likely it is to react negatively to humidity and steam.

Before you choose a material for your bathroom cabinets, consider the following:

  • Particle board – More cost-effective, but is highly sensitive to temperature changes, humidity and steam. Boards break down much faster and will need to be replaced sooner.
  • MDF – Stronger than particle board, but swells when it comes into contact with water. Long periods of humidity could cause permanent damage.
  • Plywood – High-end plywood holds up well to humidity and doesn’t swell like most other options. It’s one of the best choices for bathroom cabinets.
  • Solid wood – Humidity may result in warping of the wood and/or paint, but it’ll still last much longer than particle board or MDF.

It’s important to weigh the benefits with the costs. Plywood and solid wood will cost you more, but they’ll last longer. If you’re careful, particle board and MDF can last for years and they cost less. If you’re not careful, you’ll be replacing your cabinets in no time.

Reducing Humidity

If you’re not ready to remodel your bathroom cabinets, you can still make your existing cabinets last longer by reducing the humidity in the room. No, you don’t have to give up taking a refreshing shower when you first wake up or a relaxing bath before bed.

Some great ways to cut down on humidity include:

  • Using a dehumidifier, especially when showering.
  • Lower the temperature of your shower or bath. This reduces the amount of steam in the room and the overall humidity.
  • Open your bathroom window to let out steam and moisture.
  • Limit the length of your showers to reduce humidity.

When you do notice steam and moisture on your cabinets, wipe them off with a towel. When moisture lingers on the surfaces, it causes more damage.

Controlling Temperatures

Temperature differences often come with humidity. After all, your bathroom gets noticeably warmer when you shower. Hotter temperatures often lead to more humidity, especially in warmer climates. To reduce humidity in this instance, you may need to use a fan to cool the room.

Showering with warm versus hot water helps to reduce the temperature in your bathroom. Your bathroom cabinets will love you for it and you’ll love how much longer they last.

Considering a new bathroom cabinet or vanity? Contact us today to discuss the best options for a longer lasting cabinet.

Image: Aaron Huber