I am an Architect in the North East who designs healthy and sustainable homes. We put in NO-VOC cabinets in most of our homes.
The cabinets we install are generally custom made, once in a while our clients purchase from a manufacturer.Either way is a great way to go.It really comes down to price and desires for customization.
Basically what we are going for are non-toxic and non-off-gassing cabinetry that's:
- sustainably made with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified woods, and
- finished with No (or Low)-VOC waterborne stains or lacquers.
We have discovered that if you get a good small shop millworker, they are happy to do the cabinets the 'clean-green' way because they themselves get less exposed to toxins.
- We find also that there is a slight upcharge if you want FSC wood and for NO-VOC finishes, but the upcharges are not that much.
- The finishes are becoming more and more commonplace so the costs are always coming down.
The finishes go on a bit differently in the shop and the millworkers may have to change their way of working a bit, but we don't find this to be the cause for any problems or cost increases.
Many of my clients actually choose the custom route (though the price is a bit higher) because they usually get solid wood cabinet boxes and doors and can finesse the design as they like.
If you want to save some money, you can try a pre-manufactured product like 'Breathe Easy' (they have suppliers in a number of location in Massachusetts.
- They are similar to the custom except that instead of solid wood they use formaldehyde-free veneered plywood.
- And they're finished with a durable, low-VOC waterborne lacquer (not NO-VOC).
Good luck with your project!
For more information:
Read "I have been looking into green cabinetry. How does KCMA ESP certification compare to other green options?" a Q&A answered by Kirsten Flynn.
Also, check "I would like a list of green kitchen cabinet manufacturers." a Q&A answered by Molly McCabe.