How to Protect Wood From Humidity

Fans, proper venting can lower humidity levels and not affect natural materials.
By: Deborah L. O'Mara

The danger to wood is real: excessive moisture or humidity can ruin the beautiful, natural look of an array of products in the home. But all it takes is a little foresight and planning to make sure humidity doesn't destroy what you've worked so hard to achieve in your remodeling projects — a look that beckons the outdoors in – but not too much.

Condensation on the glass, for example, can cause moisture damage to wood window frames. But don't blame the windows. Today they are highly advanced with glass and gas-filled cavities that thwart such problems and keep moisture from creeping in. The cause of condensation is too much humidity in the room. That moisture condensed on the most convenient cool surface.

"If there is condensation on windows, you may be assured that there is condensation on walls," says Alan J. Campbell, CAE and president of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association in Des Plaines, Ill. "This is more serious, since moisture can penetrate the wall and cause internal problems."

The association offers these suggestions to control humidity:

  • Use a humidifier correctly and turn it down (i.e., lower humidity level) as the weather becomes colder.

  • Vent all appliances to the outside.

  • Vent attic spaces.

  • Cover the earth in your crawlspace with a vapor barrier.

  • Run exhaust fans while cooking or bathing.

  • If you have a forced-air furnace, make sure your home is properly ventilated by installing a fresh-air intake.

  • Don't store firewood inside. As it dries out, its moisture will add to the humidity in the house.

  • Install energy-efficient windows.

"Installing energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights will keep interior surfaces warmer and thus reduce the interior cool surfaces on which moisture can condense," Campbell says.

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