How to Remodel with Eco-Friendly Cabinets

Photo via The Sierra Club Green Home

Doing a cabinet remodel can be a great way to update your home’s décor and add some new character to a room or rooms. You might not suspect it at first, but whether in a bathroom, kitchen, office or other space, the type of cabinet you choose with which to furnish an area can have impacts not only upon the environment but upon your health as well. Here are a few things to consider when going eco-friendly with cabinets in your remodeling efforts.

Don’t Jump the Gun
You don’t want to move too fast when it comes to remodeling your home with eco-friendly cabinets. In a move to still get a new look to your home, yet remain eco-friendly in the process, it might be worth your while to consider refinishing existing cabinets instead of getting rid of them. This can keep your old cabinets from going into the trash, and save you a lump of cash in the process. New hardware or a fresh new look by way of an eco-friendly paint or stain job could work wonders.

If you do decide to go with brand new cabinets, consider seeing if your existing cabinets can be recycled or reused in some way. A contractor, friend or family member might be able to use your old cabinets to put in their garage, outbuilding, or maybe even inside their own home.

There are several aspects of new cabinets that you might want to consider regarding chemical usage. Looking for woods that are free from such environmentally and possibly health harmful glues and adhesives, air pollutants, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds can make for a more eco-friendly cabinet choice. And while looking for cabinets that were constructed with eco-friendly practices can be important, it is also pertinent to bear in mind that the stains and finishes that were used upon these cabinets may also contain harmful chemicals and should be a consideration as well.

Wood Types
The type of wood that you choose for your cabinets could also make a significant difference in just how eco-friendly they are. Wood selection may not at first seem like a major factor in your cabinet selection, but choosing sustainable wood products can be an eco-friendlier option. Woods such as bamboo, cane, eucalyptus, and certain fast-growing hardwoods might be better options to reduce environmental impact since they typically grow quicker than many other types of woods. Wood that is harvested from forests that are then replanted or are only harvested partially could also be environmentally friendlier selections.

Going with metal cabinets could also be an eco-friendly option that helps to conserve the cutting of trees needed for wood products. Not only might such cabinets be recycled at the end of their life, but they could also last longer than wooden cabinets, and might be easier to clean, as you won’t have to worry about using possibly eco-unfriendly wood polishes, oils, and cleaners to maintain them. With metal cabinets, you also reduce the need for paint, varnishes, stains, and other finishes that could contribute to environmentally harmful practices.

Steve is president of a home remodeling company in Houston and has been in business for over 25 years. He has experience in all aspects of the industry from custom home building to kitchen remodeling. To see some of his work visit
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  1. When I buy any type of composite wood product, (essentially, sawdust glued together), I worry about the presence of noxious chemicals, like formaldehyde. It is less of a problem than it used to be. The entry of building materials manufactured in the People’s Republic of China have brought some of the old problems with processed wood. When formaldehyde starts to degrade it produces a smell the same as formic acid. Ants produce formic acid. Bears are attracted to the smell, because they equate it with ants, a major food source for them. This is why, when bears get into houses, they often tear a refrigerator apart. So, if you are going to use a product with formaldehyde, be sure and close your doors, so the bears don’t come in and eat your furnishings… LOL mtdoonmeister at gmail dot com