Care and storage requirements are the same for all architectural woodwork projects, regardless of the grade specified or required.


Architectural woodwork should be treated like fine furniture, particularly when it’s constructed from wood and finished with a transparent finish system.

Except for true oil-rubbed surfaces, modern finishes don’t need to be polished, oiled, or waxed. Applying polishing oils, cleaning waxes, or products that contain silicone may make future touch-ups or refinishing procedures less effective.


Architectural woodwork needs a moisture content within an optimum range. The space where the architectural millwork is installed needs to be engineered with the appropriate controls to maintain an optimum relative humidity.

The table and map below show the optimum moisture content and indoor relative humidity required within the general areas of Canada and the United States. Note that not all provinces, states, and micro-climates are referenced.

When it’s properly finished, architectural woodwork is relatively durable and moisture resistant. Prevent direct contact with moisture. If any occurs, wipe the surface dry immediately. Allowing moisture to accumulate on or stay in contact with any wood surface, no matter how well it’s finished, will cause damage.


For centuries, wood has served as a successful, renewable material for architectural woodwork. Wood products perform with complete satisfaction when they’re correctly designed and used. Problems directly or indirectly attributed to wood’s dimensional change are usually the result of faulty design or improper humidity conditions during site storage, installation, or use.

Architectural woodwork products are manufactured from wood that has been kiln-dried to an appropriate average moisture content. This moisture level is maintained until the product is delivered. Subsequent dimensional change is an inherent natural property of wood.

Wood is a hydroscopic material, which means that all wood products contain some moisture under normal use and conditions. This molecular moisture is exchanged with the water vapour in the surrounding atmosphere according to the existing relative humidity. Wood picks up moisture and swells in high humidity, while it releases moisture and shrinks in low humidity.

Oxidation is a reaction of the acids within the wood combined with iron, oxygen, and direct moisture or relative humidity. Moisture control can protect wood products from stains as a result of oxidation. When combined with proper design, fabrication, and installation, humidity control can help prevent dimensional change problems. As normal fluctuations in humidity occur, the resulting dimensional response won’t be significant if the product has been properly designed and constructed.


Maintain an interior relative humidity within the approved ranges at all times. Uncontrolled extremes, such as high or low relative humidity and sudden changes in the allowable relative humidity, will likely cause problems.

Remove oil or grease deposits with a mild flax soap, following its instructions for dilution. Do not use abrasives or chemical or ammonia cleaners on fine architectural woodwork surfaces. Routine cleaning should be completed with a household dust attractant or a soft, lint-free cloth lightly dampened with water. Allowing airborne dust to build up will dull a finish over time.

Avoid excessive or repetitive impact, however lightly applied, as the wood will compact under pressure. Many modern finishes are flexible and will show evidence of impact and pressure. Use any trims, cabinets and fixtures, panelling, shelving, ornamental work, stairs, frames, windows, and doors as they were intended. Abuse of these features may result in their damage, as well as damage to the cabinet parts they’re joined to.

Do not place a light source or localized high heat, such as a hot pan or plate, near or on the finished surface. Exposure to direct sunlight will alter the appearance of fine woodwork over time.


If there are dimensional change problems as a result of improper design, the design professional is held responsible. If dimensional changes occur as a result of improper relative humidity exposure, the contractor is held responsible. And if dimensional changes occur as a result of extreme high or low humidity after the woodwork is in place, the owner is held responsible.

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