Hardwood cabinet components like face frames, doors, and headers are made of a natural material — wood — which has great character and personality. But natural wood also has some inherent limitations that should be understood. This is true of all wood in the home: furniture, millwork and cabinetry.

Unlike synthetic material, natural wood is not dimensionally stable, meaning it will expand and contract under certain conditions. Complicating matters further, wood does not expand and contract in a uniform way. It can even warp in extreme cases.


  • The most important thing you can do is stabilize the humidity in the home. Heating systems dry out the air in the winter, causing wood to contract. Taking steps to maintain proper relative humidity year-round will keep your cabinetry more stable. We recommend 30% to 55% relative humidity.
  • Air conditioning helps, as it removes some humidity from the air. But additional steps, like a dehumidifier, may still be needed in some locations and climates.
  • Seasonal homes, especially those near water, should be heated and air conditioned, even when not in use. Maintain a reasonable interior temperature of 40 to 90 degrees F.
  • If you want painted cabinetry and possible joint lines are a major issue to you, choose one of the Showplace MDF door styles.
  • Consider one of our slab door styles with solid MDF cores and a veneered surface. They show no joints and are very stable.


  • Door Construction: Most cabinets doors are made up of five parts, four pieces of which make up the outer frame and one piece that makes up the center panel. The notch that holds the center panel in place is slightly over-sized to allow for some expansion and contraction to happen. This prevents warping but could possibly show visible joint lines
  • Material Matters: Paint Grade doors have an HDM center panel which helps minimize expansion and contraction; however, visible joint lines may be visible due to the expansion and contraction of the outer frame.
  • The Best Choice: All woods expand and contract, but if you’re looking for the best option to minimize the effects look no further than HDM. These door styles are our most dimensionally sound, and are the best choice for coastal regions or areas with high humidity