Before you buy furniture, understand humidity

It's not the heat; it's the humidity. I do not care which; it sure can be uncomfortable! Thank goodness for the modern comforts of swimming pools, air conditioning, fridges, and fans.

Humidity, which is the measure of moisture in the air, affects furniture. Regardless of the time of year, there is always moisture in the air, even if we cannot see or feel it. A moderate amount is approximately 30 to 60% relative humidity. Anything lower and it is too dry; anything higher is too wet. Either of these can be problematic for our furniture. Since our climate varies from temperate in the winter and tropical in the summer months, our concern is what happens when the humidity exceeds 60%.

Humidity and leather furniture

Leather is a porous material containing thousands and thousands of microscopic holes. The holes absorb moisture from the environment, which is terrific for keeping leather supple and soft. Unfortunately, it can rot when relative humidity goes above 40% and remains at that level for an extended period. To reduce this risk, open windows or use a fan to achieve airflow that cools. You could also consider using the humidity control on your split air conditioner or a dehumidifier. Remember that running an air conditioner or dehumidifier can be costly on your electrical bill if used frequently.

Humidity and fabric furniture

Regular fabric is at risk of mold or mildew if in darkness, in a humid location and without air circulation. Performance fabric is the best cover for a sofa/sofa bed, sectional or recliner. Performance fabric does not cost more than most fabrics and is specially designed to provide moisture protection. This revolutionary fabric is soft yet breathable – perfect for our humid climate.

Humidity and wood furniture

In humid conditions, wood expands, and in dry conditions, it contracts. This condition makes your wood furniture susceptible to cracking, warping and splitting. Once this happens, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to repair. To avoid problems, purchase furniture made with adequately dried wood, either kiln-dried or if dried naturally, for the proper period, usually years. For peace of mind, you are always better off purchasing furniture made using pre-treated materials. Furniture finished with a stain or paint that repels liquid and moisture is also a good bet.

Humidity and mattresses

All mattresses are susceptible to the effects of humidity. Never lay your mattress right on the floor or use synthetic bedding. Fresh air and air circulation are critical to keeping mold at bay. Since memory foam mattresses are essentially spongy, porous structures, they are slightly more prone to mold than regular coil mattresses. If your preference for a good night's sleep is memory foam, look for one that has a cooling gel top since these types are less likely to mold. Avoid polyurethane or high-density foam mattresses since they have the least breathability and, therefore, are more likely to mold than memory foam or coil mattresses.

Humidity and metal furniture

Regardless of the type, all metals are prone to oxidation or rust. Aluminum will not rust, but it can discolor or oxidize. Cast iron and steel furniture will rust if the paint finish chips, exposing the metal. Even stainless steel can rust and corrode if continuously exposed to the elements over time, especially saltwater. The best way to avoid deterioration is to clean and maintain metal furniture regularly.

The bottom line

Humidity is tough on furniture. That's why buying furniture made with the proper materials is critical instead of buying based on looks, price, and availability. Buy right the first time, and you save yourself a lot of money and stress in the long run.

Want to purchase furniture that lasts and is comfortable for your home in Vallarta? We represent over 150 manufacturers and suppliers throughout Mexico that use the correct materials and processes. Visit us at our Puerto Vallarta store: 363A Constitucion just off Basilio Badillo, or our Bucerias store at Heroes de Nacozari 126.

If you are not currently in Mexico and you would like information about furnishing your home, email us at furniture@solutionsmexico.com or Whatsapp us at +52 322 136 5156.