Ecofriendly Kitchen: Healthier Kitchen Cabinets

Ecofriendly cabinets aren’t just for tree huggers. Anyone wanting to boost their home’s indoor air quality or reduce the toxins that they and their families are exposed to must pay careful attention to the makeup of their kitchen cabinets. Here are a few handsome eco-friendly cabinet options, together with explanations of what makes them healthier.

Red Pepper Cabinetry & Design

Formaldehyde-free options. Cabinets, and especially their inside boxes, are usually constructed of particleboard, fiberboard or plywood — all of which are often made with added urea formaldehyde binders or glues, which release fumes.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. A recent U.S. Congress bill demands that formadehyde emissions in those substrates be decreased to safer levels by 2013. Until then, err on the safe side with formaldehyde-free and low-VOC options, including FSC-certified plywood, bamboo plywood and agrifiber planks, which make smart utilization of agricultural by-products, an annually renewable resource. Formaldehyde-free cabinets can be trendy, as this kitchen shows.

ZeroEnergy Design

No- and low-VOC finishes. Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) are chemical fumes emitted from some materials. For improved indoor air quality, pick finishes labeled “no-VOC” or “low-VOC.” Water-based products — with naturally fewer VOCs — are best for a secure and durable cabinet finish.

The standard of water-based endings has improved recently as the demand for safer options has increased. For extra confidence of product security, you are able to seek certifications from Green Seal or even GreenGuard — two industry-independent organizations that give their seal of approval for construction products with reduced chemical emissions.

This airy and light-filled kitchen used no- and low-VOC finishes as part of a whole-house system to sustainability.

SB Architects

FSC-certified timber. Creating a sustainable timber choice is often as easy as seeking certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which implies, in part, that timber products come from responsibly harvested woods. This fashionable San Francisco kitchen utilizes FSC-certified cabinet boxes.


Salvaged timber. The most sustainable option, salvaged wood delivers richness and character with its history. Look for timber with a story that you will delight in sharing with its admirers. This bright kitchen has been equipped with lockable Douglas fir cabinets built onsite.

West Architecture Studio

Wood veneer. Veneer, only a thin piece of wood adhered to a substrate, gives the feel and look of wood without using an excessive amount of precious wood. The wenge veneer on the kitchen’s cabinets proves that veneer can be equally luxe as strong wood.

FINNE Architects

Renewable timber: bamboo. Granite is a rapidly renewable resource, and it’s naturally stronger and harder than most other hardwoods. In this kitchen, Plyboo, an FSC-certified bamboo product, is set at a darker wood framework for an exotic look.

Melaragno Design Company, LLC

Renewable timber: Lyptus. These cabinets are constructed of Lyptus, a relatively new engineered product from a hybrid eucalyptus species grown on Brazilian plantations. Lyptus touts the beneficial traits of timber and reaches maturity in only 15 years, a quarter of the period needed for average hardwoods. The look is very similar to that of cherry or mahogany, with a fine grain.

Amoroso Design

Durability. Durability is an essential element of eco friendly cabinets. Choose well-built cabinets with strong hardware which can hold up to years of operation, exposure to heat from the range and steam from the dishwasher. When making decisions, do this with the expectation that your kitchen is going to be set up for decades.

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