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Top 8 Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Cabinet Materials

Maybe you’ve already swapped out your old light bulbs for energy-efficient ones and installed a smart thermostat, but there’s one area of your home that often gets overlooked when it comes to going green – your cabinets. Believe it or not, the materials used to construct your cabinets can have a substantial impact on the environment. Luckily, we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we’ll delve into the top 8 sustainable and eco-friendly cabinet materials that not only look stylish but also contribute towards a greener planet.


Plywood is a fantastic choice when it comes to sustainable and eco-friendly cabinet materials. It’s popular for its strength and affordability compared to solid wood, making it a go-to material for many homeowners.


So, what exactly is plywood? It’s an engineered wood product made by gluing together thin layers, or ‘plies’ of wood. The grains of each layer are arranged at right angles to each other. This cross-graining technique makes plywood exceptionally strong and resistant to warping, cracking, and twisting.


Plywood cabinets are a high quality and budget frienldy option

One of the great things about plywood is its versatility. It comes in various grades, meaning you can choose the perfect one for your needs. Higher grades have fewer knots and more uniform appearance, ideal for doors and visible parts of your cabinets. On the other hand, lower grades, which may have more knots and blemishes, work perfectly for internal structures.


Nelson Cabinetry Pull Out Shelves (Roll Out) for Base and Pantry Cabinets
Nelson Cabinetry Pull Out Shelves (Roll Out) for Base and Pantry Cabinets

Moreover, plywood is very workable. It’s easy to cut into different shapes and sizes, making it ideal for custom cabinetry. And because it’s a lighter material, it’s simpler to handle and install than some other options. Sustainability-wise, plywood is a star. It uses almost every part of the tree during manufacturing, reducing waste significantly. Plus, many manufacturers are now using low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) adhesives to minimize harmful emissions. In terms of aesthetics, plywood has a natural wood grain look that adds warmth and charm to any kitchen. It can also be painted or stained to match your style perfectly.


If you’re looking for a material that’s both eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, bamboo is an excellent choice for your cabinets. It’s not just about its unique and beautiful appearance. Bamboo is also known for its impressive strength and sustainability, making it a popular choice for modern kitchens. Bamboo is actually a type of grass, but don’t let that fool you! It’s one of the strongest materials out there. In fact, its tensile strength – which measures how much stress a material can withstand without breaking – rivals that of steel. This means bamboo cabinets are durable and can withstand the wear and tear of a busy kitchen.



But the real star quality of bamboo is its sustainability. It grows incredibly fast, much more so than traditional hardwoods. Some species of bamboo can grow up to three feet in 24 hours! This rapid growth makes bamboo a highly renewable resource, which is great news for our planet. When it comes to aesthetics, bamboo cabinets bring a touch of nature into your kitchen. They have a unique grain that gives them character and charm. Plus, they come in a range of shades, from light honey tones to darker browns, so you can choose the perfect match for your kitchen decor.



In terms of workability, bamboo is also a winner. It’s easy to cut and shape, making it ideal for custom cabinetry. And because of its strength, bamboo cabinets often require less hardware, which can give your kitchen a cleaner, more streamlined look.

NuGreen Particleboard

NuGreen Particleboard is an engineered wood product made from wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust, bound together using a synthetic resin. The result? A strong, versatile, and cost-effective material perfect for various applications, from furniture to cabinetry.



One of the key selling points of NuGreen Particleboard is its focus on sustainability. The manufacturing process utilizes recycled and reclaimed wood, reducing waste and making efficient use of resources. This commitment to sustainability extends to the choice of binding agents – NuGreen uses a low-formaldehyde resin, significantly reducing the emissions typically associated with traditional particleboard production.



But NuGreen Particleboard isn’t just about being eco-friendly. It’s also about delivering a high-quality product. The particleboard is known for its strength and durability, making it ideal for areas of your home that see a lot of use, like the kitchen or bathroom. Plus, it’s easy to work with, making it a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts as well as professional builders. Aesthetically, NuGreen Particleboard offers a smooth surface that’s perfect for laminates, veneers, or paints. This means you can customize it to match your style perfectly, whether you’re after a sleek modern look or a more rustic feel.


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Maple is a type of deciduous tree native to Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America. Known for its beautiful autumn colors and the sweet syrup it produces, maple also has significant uses in various industries, particularly in furniture production and musical instrument manufacturing.



In terms of physical properties, maple is a hardwood, meaning it’s denser and more durable than softwoods. This makes it an excellent choice for furniture that needs to withstand heavy use, such as tables, chairs, and cabinets. Maple’s fine, generally straight grain also makes it appealing from an aesthetic point of view, offering a clean and modern look. Beyond furniture, maple’s strength and density make it a popular choice in the music industry. Musical instruments, especially stringed ones like violins, guitars, and basses, often feature maple in their construction. It’s known for itsto enhance sound quality, providing a bright tone and good sustain.


Kitchens with maple cabinets


Maple is also a sustainable choice. Most maple wood used in furniture and musical instruments comes from managed forests where trees are replanted to replace those cut down. This commitment to sustainability ensures that the beauty and benefits of maple will continue to be available for future generations. In the culinary world, maple is famous for its sap, which can be boiled down to produce maple syrup. This natural sweetener is a staple in many kitchens, loved for its rich, unique flavor.


Hardwood is a term used to describe the wood from dicot trees, a type of tree that has broad leaves, produces seeds with two cotyledons, and has bark that grows in layers. These trees are typically found in tropical climates and deciduous forests. Some common examples of hardwood trees include oak, maple, and walnut. One of the most distinguishing features of hardwood is its density. This high density gives it durability and strength, making it an excellent choice for furniture, flooring, and construction. It’s not uncommon to see hardwood used in high-traffic areas of a home or business due to its ability to withstand wear and tear over time.



From an aesthetic perspective, hardwood is highly valued for its natural beauty. The wide variety of species offers a range of colors, grains, and textures. It can be polished to a high sheen or left with a more natural, rustic finish, making it versatile enough to suit any style or decor. Working with hardwood requires a bit more effort than softer woods due to its density. However, this same characteristic also means it holds shape well and provides excellent screw and nail holding capacity.


custom cabinets


In terms of sustainability, many hardwoods come from slow-growing trees, which can raise concerns about deforestation and environmental impact. However, with responsible forestry practices, including replanting and proper management, hardwood can be a sustainable choice. Many companies now source their hardwood from certified sustainable forests and participate in programs that ensure a minimal impact on the environment.


When it comes to choosing a sustainable and eco-friendly material for your cabinets, cherry stands out as a remarkable option. Known for its fine grain and rich, warm hues that deepen with time, cherry wood adds an element of sophistication and timeless appeal to any cabinetry design.



Cherry wood is more than just a beautiful material. Its durability and resistance to warping make it ideal for kitchen cabinets that need to withstand frequent use and changing temperatures. This means your cherry cabinets will not only look good but also last for many years, reducing the need for replacements and therefore contributing to sustainability. While cherry wood is considered a hardwood, it’s surprisingly easy to work with. It responds well to both hand and machine tools, making it a favorite among craftsmen. This ease of workability also contributes to less wastage during the manufacturing process, further enhancing its eco-friendly attributes.



Another noteworthy aspect of cherry wood is its versatility. Its natural elegance can be enhanced with a clear finish or it can be stained to achieve a different color. Whether you’re aiming for a traditional or contemporary kitchen design, cherry wood cabinets can seamlessly fit into your aesthetic.

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

Medium Density Fiberboard, commonly known as MDF, is an engineered wood product that offers a sustainable and cost-effective alternative for cabinet materials. It’s created by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into fine particles, which are then combined with a resin binder and heat-pressed into panels.



MDF stands out for its uniform density and smooth surface, making it an excellent choice for cabinets. Unlike natural wood, it doesn’t have knots or grain, which allows for a flawless finish when painted. This makes MDF ideal for contemporary kitchen designs where a sleek, smooth appearance is desired. In terms of durability, MDF can withstand the daily wear and tear that kitchen cabinets are subjected to. It’s resistant to warping and cracking, ensuring your cabinets maintain their shape and functionality over time. However, it’s worth noting that MDF is not as resistant to moisture as some other materials, so it may not be the best choice for areas with high humidity or potential water exposure.



One of the key reasons for the growing popularity of MDF is its eco-friendliness. As it’s made from the residuals of hardwood and softwood, it utilizes parts of the tree that would otherwise be discarded. This means that choosing MDF contributes to reducing waste and promoting sustainable use of resources.

Recycled paper-based materials (like Paperstone or Richlite)

Recycled paper-based materials, such as Paperstone and Richlite, are innovative solutions for those seeking sustainable and eco-friendly cabinet materials. These products are made by compressing layers of recycled paper into a solid material, using resin and heat. The result is a highly durable, non-toxic, and recyclable material that’s an excellent alternative to traditional cabinet materials.


One of the key advantages of these recycled paper-based materials is their environmental footprint. By using post-consumer and post-industrial recycled paper, they divert waste from landfills and reduce the demand for virgin materials. Moreover, the resins used in the production process are often low-VOC or VOC-free, making these materials safer for indoor air quality. In terms of functionality and aesthetics, Paperstone and Richlite do not disappoint. They are extremely durable and resistant to heat, scratches, and stains, making them perfect for the demands of a kitchen environment. Plus, their dense composition makes them resistant to moisture, a critical factor for bathroom and kitchen cabinets.



These materials come in a variety of colors and finishes, offering flexibility in design. Whether you’re aiming for a minimalist modern look or a more traditional design, these recycled paper-based materials can fit seamlessly into your vision. Affordability is another strong point for these materials. They are significantly cheaper compared to traditional cabinet materials like hardwoods, making them an ideal choice for budget-conscious homeowners who don’t want to compromise on quality or sustainability.

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Nelson Cabinetry

Nelson Cabinetry is an online distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. We pride ourselves in delivering a high quality product via an easy to use, convenient website. Placing your cabinet order has never been easier and you can do so from the comfort of your home, office or job site.


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