Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Eco-friendly kitchen cabinets: refacing the green way

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

If you've ever been in a kitchen that's heavy on the oranges, browns and dark yellows, you know that trends don't always stand the test of time. There are certain trends, though, that most definitely do stand up to changing tastes -- and today, that trend is going for eco-friendly materials and construction.

Eco-friendly refacing: materials and construction

Keep the following things in mind when it's time to reface:

1. Materials are a big part of going green. As more and more companies respond to consumers' desires to go green, getting eco-friendly materials is becoming easier, but there are still quite a few offenders on the market. The two big things to look out for are harvesting/creation and processing.

  • Go formaldehyde-free. Cabinets are often made from particleboard, fiberboard or plywood. Each of these composite materials requires glue or a bonding agent to stay in one piece, and all too often, these glues have urea formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, added to them. Over time, the wood releases fumes that are terrible for everyone concerned. Look for formaldehyde-free alternatives, and breathe easier in the kitchen.
  • Opt for no- and low-VOC. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical fumes that are released by certain wood finishes. By choosing water-based alternatives or keeping an eye out for Green Seal or GreenGuard low-chemical-emission certifications, you can clear the air for your family.
  • Look for FSC-certified wood. Old-growth forests make much better hiking trails than they do kitchen cabinets. When you purchase wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), you can rest easy knowing that the wood came from responsibly harvested forests.
  • Employ salvaged materials. Using salvaged wood and other materials makes your kitchen a testament to upcycling (recycling waste materials into high-quality versions of their former selves). Done correctly, salvaged wood can lend a classy, antique feel to your kitchen.
  • Be sustainable. Bamboo and lyptus, a hybrid eucalyptus that matures quickly, can be engineered to look like nearly any hardwood your heart desires. These fast-growing trees are naturally strong, to boot.

2. Construction can turn green materials into a dream kitchen or a wasteful nightmare. It's important to hire someone you can trust to get the job done right. Choose a bonded, licensed and insured* contractor, like the pre-screened professionals available through this website. A good contractor can typically save you money on materials, cut down on waste and build for longevity.

  • Make it durable. One of the best ways to be eco-friendly is to make sure that what you're building will last. The longer your cabinets stay looking and working great, the longer you keep those materials out of landfills.
  • Use only what you need. All too often, the impetus behind cabinet refacing is purely aesthetic. If your cabinets are all structurally sound, ask a contractor how much can be done with wood veneer rather than replacing doors, drawers and other facings with big chunks of hardwood.

Just refacing your cabinets instead of completely replacing them saves bunches of resources and materials -- not to mention time and money. Talk to a contractor about how you can go green for the planet and for your family.

*See terms and conditions: http://www.streetcertified.com/about/Terms.jsp

About the Author
Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has been plugged in to the newest technology and tuned in to the latest trends ever since. With an eye for design and an ear for language, Karl has created content and managed digital media for startups and established companies alike. When he unplugs, Karl can be found biking about town and hiking and climbing throughout the West.

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