Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

A Toast to Your Cabinets: Health-Conscious Kitchen Remodeling

by Melissa Bullard
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

More and more homeowners are looking for ways to increase the green factor of their kitchens, and refacing your kitchen is a great way to do this. While many people are aware of the ecological impacts of choosing environmentally-friendly products and enjoy the lower costs of energy-saving appliances, homeowners should also consider health when they're replacing or refacing kitchen cabinets.

Refacing Your Cabinets for Health

Many homeowners have begun investigating the effects of formaldehyde, which is often used in making particleboard and particularly in the resins used to make medium density fiberboard (MDF). Formaldehyde has been classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning that, over time, formaldehyde releases small volumes of toxic fumes that can be absorbed into the human body. While it is also emitted by natural processes, higher concentrations of formaldehyde in the home can cause health problems. So if you want to reface or replace your kitchen cabinets and choose products that can protect you in the long run, consider these tips.

  • Look for formaldehyde-free products. Columbia Forest Products, Inc. make kitchen cabinet products that are manufactured without any added urea formaldehyde. Other companies also create products without using resins with added urea formaldehyde, so look for one near you if you want a healthier kitchen cabinet reface.
  • Look for exterior-grade products. Most exterior-grade wood products are made using phenol formaldehyde resins, which emit significantly less formaldehyde than urea formaldehyde resins. This is a good option if formaldehyde-free just isn't practical for you.
  • Buy solid wood. As long as you buy from a company that doesn't use any formaldehyde in the finish, solid woods don't have added formaldehyde and are a good choice for greener, cleaner air.
  • Look for sustainable woods. If you want to go the extra mile in protecting your health and the environment, don't just choose wood cabinet doors or a wood veneer; look for doors and veneers that are made from sustainable woods such as bamboo. These can be expensive, but if cost is less of an issue for you and you want products that are truly ecologically-friendly, look for woods offered by companies that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

While buying products that are ecologically friendly may not always be the most inexpensive option, if you're interested in protecting your health long-term, it's definitely worth your consideration.

About the Author
Melissa Bullard earned a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, then a Master's Degree in Spanish Language and Literatures from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has taught writing, literature, and Spanish classes, and is currently working as a fre

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