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A warning about wood furniture in Mexico

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Sheryl Novakhttps://www.solutionsmexico.com/
Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian and owner of SOLutions Mexico, an online furniture store in Mexico. Sign up for our free newsletters, which deliver our top headlines twice a week.
Photo: Courtesy

Many expats buying wood furniture for their new homes in Mexico are not necessarily familiar with the different environment and vendors here.

Without question, we all love the beauty of solid wood furniture. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it can also last for years and years if you know what to buy.

But wood is a natural material, and as such, it is prone to contract or expand during aging or depending on the temperature and humidity of its environment. Air conditioning and our humid climate are not easy on wood furniture. The change in moisture content in the wood can quickly cause cracking and warping.  

To ensure that your furniture does not crack or warp, it is critical your furniture maker purchases wood from a reputable wood supplier. Most wood used in furniture making today is either kiln-dried or season-dried. Drying wood in a kiln is much quicker, and most companies use this process instead of drying their wood naturally. Kiln-dried wood can be ready in under a month. Season-dried, as the name implies, can take months or years. Unfortunately, the downside of kiln-dried lumber is that artificial heating prevents the wood from hardening as it would if it were season-dried. Kiln-dried wood is more prone to cracking and warping.

The type of wood matters, too. Some species dry better over time rather than in a kiln.

Regardless of which method or species, if not dried properly, the beautiful dresser or dining table you just purchased is very likely to have problems.

Even with proper drying, it is impossible for anyone to promise that a piece of wood furniture will not change. That is why it is so essential to ensure any piece of furniture you purchase comes with a solid warranty. Make sure to ask others who have purchased whether they have had any issues with the product and if they did, what the company or carpenter did to resolve it. That is the only way you will know whether the warranty is as good as the paper on which it is written.

Damage to wood furniture made from flat-sawn wood generally appears in three key places. Most often, cracking will appear either along the grain, perpendicular to the growth rings or perpendicular to the grain and parallel to the growth rings. Cracking along the grain in traditional wood types is usually minimal, as is shrinkage perpendicular to the growth rings. The highest risk is movement across the grain. Well-trained wood suppliers and carpenters should know the amount of movement to expect when selecting a wood species and the environment you will be placing the item.  

Furniture made from flat-sawn wood can also warp. Warp movement in wood is called “cup,” “bow” and “twist.” The most common move is “cup.” That is when one face of the wood shrinks more in width than the opposite one. If a piece of wood has too much moisture along the grain, it can cause a “bow.” “Twist” is when diagonal corners of a board are not the same level or plane.

To reduce risk, make sure to purchase your wood furniture from qualified and knowledgeable sources that offer reliable warranties.


New home in Mexico? Need furniture? Contact sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com with any questions. No obligation to purchase.

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