The Best Materials For Eco-Friendly Cabinets

It’s become increasingly more important to consider sustainable materials when planning home renovations or upgrades. Environmentally friendly materials will not only make a statement in your home, but it will also look fantastic in your kitchen and make you feel good about your purchases.  

If you want to transform your kitchen into an environmentally friendly space, do note that you have plenty of eco-friendly custom cabinet options to choose from. From reclaimed wood to alternative materials, we’ll cover the best eco-friendly cabinet options available.  

What Makes Materials Eco-Friendly? 

Eco-friendly materials are materials that don’t harm or reduce the harm to our environment. 

This can include things like how the material has been produced, harvested, or how it’s used. Another factor is how the material is disposed of once it has been damaged or is no longer needed. If materials can be “upcycled” or recycled, then they’re more likely to be considered eco-friendly. Upcycling is the process of transforming waste materials or byproducts into new creations. In this article, we touch on a few options that use this method. 

Non-toxic materials and materials that have been or can be recycled are considered eco-friendly as they lessen the strain on our landfills. Another aspect to consider if you’re concerned about sustainability is sourcing local materials and making sure you’re not purchasing more than you need. By just being strategic and efficient with your space, you’re practicing sustainability.   

Eco-Friendly Wood 

Reclaimed wood is a great eco-friendly option. It can be both rustic or modern, depending on how it’s treated.  

Reclaimed wood can be taken from old warehouses, houses, piers, or even from old boats. This would be considered upcycling, as the material is no longer needed for its original function, but still in good shape. However, reclaimed wood can be a more expensive option. This is because of the extra labor that is included in finding, cleaning, and removing any leftover hardware. But it’s a great sustainable option and can make your kitchen one-of-a-kind.  

Bamboo (although technically a grass) is a fairly sustainable product and alternative option if you’re looking for something eco-friendly. It’s renewable, water-resistant, and can actually improve the air quality in your home. One of the downsides to bamboo is that it might be a product that is located far away from where you currently live, which means that travel can reduce its eco-friendly status. This is something to keep in mind while making your decisions! 

Wood that is FSC-Certified means that it has met the requirements of the FSC council. These requirements can include how it was manufactured and if it was harvested while complying with local laws. Other requirements include more long-term concerns, such as conservation initiatives and environmental impact.  

If you’re looking to include wood cabinets in your home, but you want to make sure that they are eco-friendly, it’s worth looking for something that is FSC-Certified.  

Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) 

MDF is a composite panel product, which means it’s created from leftover wood byproducts. These byproducts consist of sawdust and wood shavings found in industrial milling. The fibres are mixed together with a bonding ingredient, usually wax or resin, and pressurized into smooth panels. Due to it being composed of leftover wood materials, MDF is considered a sustainable option as it doesn’t leave a large carbon footprint.  

MDF is a strong material and a popular choice among many people when choosing custom cabinets since it doesn’t have wood knots or grain, allowing for precise and smooth finishes. It’s incredibly affordable and its surface accepts paint with no issues. 

Sometimes, the glue that holds some MDF together can be a concern, as it may release certain gasses into the air. However, newer versions of MDF have been created to counter this, providing cleaner and more eco-friendly alternatives. In the past, MDF has also been considered absorbent to water, but as long as the boards are treated, this is not an issue.  


Eco-friendly finishes are also important to keep in mind as it can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your cabinets. Custom cabinets can be finished with natural materials like beeswax or oils like linseed or walnut oil.  

Choosing a natural finish for your cabinets can bring out the color variations in wood, adding more depth and richness to them. The only downside is that there might be less uniformity in the color. However, this can also be seen as a bonus if you’re looking for that authentic and rustic look.  

Another option is shellac. Shellac is a natural finish that has been around for thousands of years as a way to preserve wood. It’s versatile and non-toxic, and it can bring out the natural wood grain while adding a smooth surface appearance. Shellac can be clear or tinted in a wide range of hues and enhances the organic beauty of your kitchen cabinets. It’s easy to apply and also dries very quickly.  

Shop Around 

When it comes to sustainable and eco-friendly materials, it’s easy to get creative. There are so many environmentally sustainable products out there to choose from, especially if you work with a custom cabinet maker who can address any of your concerns.  

If you want to transform your home into an eco-friendly space that you can be proud of, you can make it easier on yourself by working with professionals who are knowledgeable in the space. A lot of eco-friendly material or sustainable options are not going to be found in big box stores. In fact, your best choice is to connect with local cabinet makers and builders who are able to help you source your preferred materials.  

If you’re in the Chicago area, visit Builders Cabinet and talk to a professional custom kitchen cabinet designer to get more information.  

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