Conventional Cabinets & VOCs
Conventional cabinets can be a significant source of VOCs in the kitchen – with all of the low and mid-range brands using particleboard or MDF at least in their lower-end lines, which offgas formaldehyde.
There are pressed wood products with no added formaldehyde now, and some cabinet makers mentioned in this post are using these. I don’t always think the alternative glues are better.
The move towards CARB II and GreenGuard Gold has greatly improved the formaldehyde levels in the conventional options in recent years.
Regular plywood-based cabinets (as opposed to particleboard or MDF) offgas quite rapidly, while at the same time more companies are offering formaldehyde-free options.
Paints and varnishes are not likely to be zero-VOC unless that is stated. But the brands here are offering natural finishes, custom finishes, or factory cured finishes which I found to be almost no VOC.
You may opt to finish them yourself with non-toxic sealers or non-toxic paint.
The best option for most people is the mid-range brands with the right healthy upgrades.
Healthy Cabinet Brands – Listed by Material
Healthy cabinets could be made of solid wood, plywood, pressed wood without added formaldehyde, or metal.
Sometimes glass or MgO board can be used.
Of course, some are sensitive to the terpenes of wood, and wood can also pick up and hold onto secondary odors so I have included non-wood options on the list.
The cabinets in my tiny house are solid wood, but the reason cabinets are made of engineered wood products is that solid wood can warp in the kitchen.
1. Non-Toxic Metal Cabinet Brands
There are companies that make metal kitchen cabinets, and they can look quite cool.
Fadior makes stainless steel cabinets. The cabinets are made of all stainless with aluminum reinforcements, no wood or PVC.
Bertolini affordable, 100% metal.
IMDesign has no wood and no adhesives (North America and Europe).
Pedini (high-end) Italian company that was at the forefront of green cabinetry. They offer some metal options.
Contur Cabinets is a Canadian company making metal cabinets.
Lasertron Direct makes high-end custom stainless steel cabinetry for indoors and outdoors.
When shopping for metal cabinets you want to see if there are any non-metal components and what those are.
2. Healthy Solid Wood Cabinets
Healthy Cabinet Makers make solid wood cabinets aimed at the chemically sensitive.
It’s rare to find cabinets made out of solid wood, so I would certainly go with a company that has expertise with this type of construction. Even the boxes are solid wood.
Solid wood can be prone to warping in high humidity (if not constructed well by a specialty company like this).
This company also has a commitment to healthy finishes.
3. Low-VOC and Formaldehyde-Free Cabinets
i. KERF makes modern looking cabinets out of Purebond (formaldehyde-free plywood) which has a zero-VOC finish. The edges are finished with Osmo which I review here.
ii. Another very popular brand is Crystal Cabinets. They can use standard plywood or Purebond plywood (check to make sure they have the no added formaldehyde Purebond) for the boxes. They have an option for low emitting finishes, or you can finish them yourself.
iii. Executive Cabinetry offers a choice between regular plywood and Purebond (no added formaldehyde plywood).
You can also have them finish them for you with the varnish of your choice (though that option is fairly expensive).
Non-toxic cabinets finishes are listed here, and non-toxic cabinet paints here.
This is often the top pick for many in the high-end green market.
iv. Bellmont Cabinetry offers a line called EcoCore that is melamine over a no added urea-formaldehyde particleboard. Their veneer plywood is a safer choice. They have doors that are solid wood (for stained finish only).
v. Taylor Made Cabinets offers custom no added formaldehyde cabinets, with plywood boxes and solid wood drawers and doors. Their MDF is made without formaldehyde.
vi. Royal Cabinets makes a line called Green Leaf that is made with no added formaldehyde materials (solid wood fronts are an option) and low-VOC finishes.
vii. Barker Cabinets offers RTA cabinets made with Purebond plywood for the boxes. The raised panel doors (Windsor, Seattle, etc.) are made of solid wood panels (no MDF). The painted doors are made with a conversion varnish that does have some offgassing (the offgassing was low but took about 5 months to hit odorless to me). The stains and clear stains did seem to have some slight offgassing as well (possibly better than the paint, depending on the age of the samples).
viii. PureKitchen uses Purebond Plywood for the boxes. They made a door style with plywood and solid wood (not MDF). They offer MDF made with MDI glues instead of formaldehyde. The paint is Sherwin Williams Chem Aqua Plus. The glue is a PVA type (which is good).
ix. NorthPoint Cabinets line is RTA and has a solid wood and plywood option. Drawers are made of solid wood + plywood, and the boxes, shelves, and even back panels are made of plywood. The stained doors are solid wood with a veneered plywood center panel. The painted doors are all HDF. The finishes are 100% water-based and UV cured, so there won’t be any offgassing there.
x. Neff Cabinets have plywood boxes pressed with a “98% formaldehyde free phenolic resin”. For the doors they have a laminate option (or MDF).
xi. Mod Cabinetry has a Contempo line built with Purebond Plywood and there stains and paints are UV cure, water-based and zero-VOC.
- PS: Here is a post on which companies make solid wood vanities. Here is a company making solid wood closets.
4. Fully Custom-Made Cabinets
Custom cabinets are usually made by local craftsmen or local companies. This is usually the highest-end option. You can get custom cabinets in just about any style.
One company I like, Crown Point, uses formaldehyde-free plywood for the boxes and can use solid wood for fronts. They even have experience painting cabinets with all-natural Milk Paint.
In general custom cabinets can be made with a combination of solid wood, plywood, Purebond (formaldehyde-free plywood), or formaldehyde-free particleboard.
Purebond plywood is made of “soy glue” which for some people is preferred over regular plywood. Not all chemically sensitive people do well with this.
Drawers are usually solid wood in high-end cabinets but they can be made of mostly metal (which is what I did).
In my tiny house, we kept it really simple with basic cabinets made by my carpenter-builder.
My cabinets, pictured, are custom made with solid wood on the doors/face. MgO was used for the boxes (a highly unusual choice!). IKEA ready-made metal drawers were used with MgO as the base of the drawer.
The wood did warp a little in my kitchen (this was poplar wood).
Some ideas to cut down on costs (while keeping the cabinets low in toxicity):
- Use shelves instead of upper cabinets – either wood, glass, or metal.
- Salvage cabinets and countertops from demolitions as they may have off-gassed or you may find metal ones.
- DIY simple open shelving below the counter made of solid wood, concrete, tadelakt, metal, or glass.
- Metal and glass cabinets you can custom make or make yourself – here is a description and instructions from Build a Healthy House. IKEA also offers some mostly glass options.
- Incorporate affordable metal drawers or shelves inside of cabinets (like my IKEA parts).
- Cabinets made entirely of formaldehyde-free plywood (see this video).
5. Non-Toxic Big Brand Cabinets
i. KraftMaid Cabinets (Lowes and Home Depot)
KraftMaid cabinets are a great mid-range semi-custom option.
They offer all plywood cabinets boxes as an upgrade. The shelves are also plywood. Most plywood now quickly offgasses to completion. It’s a far better choice than particleboard. However, it does sound like recently Kraftmaid is using a plywood with MDF layers (higher in offgassing). So be sure to check before ordering.
The drawer sides are solid wood, with a plywood base.
The doors are solid hardwood frames with solid or veneer center panels, or laminate doors.
I like solid wood as my top choice followed by laminate doors.
You can order samples for $3 each to see the finishes. I personally found that the painted lacquer finish hit odorless very quickly, within days. I don’t think any instrument would pick up offgassing off these at that time. They said the samples are always newly produced.
The clear finished seemed even better to me right away. But both finishes would be fine for 99% of folks and both are better than conversion varnish used by other brands.
KraftMaid cabinets cost you anywhere from $100 to $300 per linear square foot.
Merillat and Kraftmaid are owned by the same company, and Merrillat’s best line, their Masterpiece, is the exact same product as Kraftmaid.
Other Home Depot Brands
Many folks have reported doing well with Thomasville brand cabinets from Home Depot.
iii. IKEA Cabinets
IKEA is obviously a very affordable ready to assemble (RTA) option.
From IKEA, the lacquered VEDDINGE cabinets and melamine-faced cabinets are preferred because those finishes block some offgassing.
The KUNGSBACKA cabinet fronts and side panels are made of PET plastic wrapped around particle board, which is also a great way to block offgassing from the particleboard.
More on that below.
Formaldehyde Levels in Big Box Store Cabinets
Many people are finding that since CARB II came into effect, which drastically reduced formaldehyde in nationwide brands, regular cabinets work fine for them.
You may want to compare some of the brands at IKEA and Home Depot. If you find GreenGuard Gold certification you know it’s extremely low formaldehyde.
With most particleboard and MDF, the main adhesive is formaldehyde. You can see the typical levels in the chart in this post.
I would avoid MDF and particleboard, opting for brands that offer an upgrade to all plywood boxes and solid wood doors.
My second choice after that is a melamine or laminate finish which blocks most of the formaldehyde.
Melamine Versus Laquer – Which is Safer?
IKEA has two main finishes on the doors.
Melamine is one option. This is a plastic exterior that is fairly thick and does not have noticeable offgassing.
The other option is the painted (lacquered) finish. This is made with a base of particleboard.
Lacquer paints do have some ability to seal in offgassing, but this doesn’t block the formaldehyde as well as the melamine or laminate does.
How to Block & Seal in Formaldehyde
In cabinets with a melamine or plastic laminate finish on the outside (like many IKEA cabinets) this does block most of the formaldehyde offgassing.
If the edges are sealed in by the finish, that is even better.
If the edges are not sealed with melamine, the formaldehyde offgassing from the edges can be sealed with AFM Safeseal or Zinsser Shellac. You should also seal up the unused shelving holes with shellac as well.
If you go with the lacquered finish you can seal the edges with Safeseal or Shellac.
Metal and Glass Cabinet Components from IKEA
The IKEA drawers have metal sides which is a great feature. The fiberboard base can be swapped out for another material.
IKEA also sells glass cabinet drawers and glass shelves for inside cabinets. The JUTIS line is metal and glass.
I used their metal drawers and metal corner cabinet shelving in my tiny house and put my own fronts on them.
You can really cut down on costs and toxin exposure but using many IKEA parts.
If you want to dig down deeper into materials – my post on Laminate, Melamine, and Thermafoil goes into more detail.
6. Plastic Kitchen Cabinets
Non-toxic outdoor kitchen cabinets can be made of polyethylene or metal. The above cabinets are from Werever Outdoor Cabinets which are made from high-density polyethylene.
Folks who have not found a suitable material in the indoor options might use the outdoor styles inside. You could, of course, use these outside as intended, as well.
One benefit here is you might find modular options in this category quickly and easily at big box stores.
One company, Reform, which makes doors and accessories to fit on the IKEA base cabinet frames, makes a solid polyethylene (HDPE) door line called MATCH. That would be an awesome option for many sensitive folks. You would need to check out the above section on IKEA to see if the base cabinets could suit you.
Looking for healthy bathroom vanities (that don’t contain formaldehyde)? This post on solid wood vanities reviews the best brands.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
Aaron Hunter says
We are having custom wood cabinets built for our homes. What is a safe sealant for the cabinets to be applied?
see the main post on sealers for clear and the post on cabinet paint for paint
We are thinking of buying acrylic cabinets from Fabuwood line called Illume (blanco gloss to be exact). Are these considered toxic?
The boxes are made from particle board so on par with IKEA
Corinne, we bought a home that is 7 years with all the cabinets made with MDF and melamine . Sides that are not noticeable to the eye like shelves etc do not have the melamine on them, i know 100% I’m allergic to formaldehyde (after skin testing )years ago could this still be off gassing ? I’m getting headaches after 30 min but they also washed the floor tile with lemon pinesol that im trying to clean good any residue up ( Sensitive to perfume smells , pretty much all chemical smells .). I’m a little torn up on what to do …..should I try and use a sealant on all the drill holes in cabinets and the sides of MDF or add .melamine to the shelves all around them. 7 years to off seems like enough time off gassing but i still smell it inside the cabinets . Maybe just sealing of open edges of what I can would work , Thank you
Usually what we don’t find in the studies is what timeframe a material is completely offgassed. (Seems strange not to study that, but it’s true). Also offgassing times vary a lot by the conditions: temp, humidity, air flow mainly. Inside the cabinets, there is almost no air flow so the formaldehyde gets reabsorbed.
Usually at 7 years even the most extremely sensitive can do well with Particleboard, MDF and HDF and would consider it offgassed. But because it’s inside a closed area the residual formaldehyde can linger. It’s not necessarily an amount that would still show up on a measurement. Also it’s difficult to measure the formaldehyde at these extremely low levels or when it is done offgassing because the wood itself naturally contains formaldehyde, and also the air indoor and outdoor everywhere contains formaldehyde.
When someone is this hypersensitive always look to mold as an underlying source as I found that has been the culprit in 100% of cases. The Gupta programme is also very helpful with hyperactivity, I no longer have MCS because of that.
BIANCA HUTTON says
Thank you for putting this guide together and for updating it regularly. I’m wondering if you could add Puustelli Miinus cabinetry to your list here? The cabinetry has been developed using biocomposite frames, real wood and technical veneer panels, no added formaldehyde and no toxic solvents. The cabinets have exceeded stringent third party M1 indoor air testing.
I’ve included two links here for further reference, and I’d be happy to share more information if needed.
Thank you for your consideration,
what is a “bio composite” frame and what is “technical veneer panels”
Hi Corinne, the biocomposite is a mixture of polypropylene and chemical pulp fiber, and is a water-resistant, non-toxic, ecological, modifiable and lasting material that can be reused or recycled. Puustelli uses biocomposite frames with real wood panels instead of the cabinetry “box” structure. Special veneer door panels (or technical veneers) are generally made from cultivated, fast-growing deciduous tree species to imitate popular wood looks such as oak or exotic wood patterns. Veneer surfaces can be varnished, oiled, stained or painting depending on the door model. All our surface treatments are non-toxic and cause no irritation.
OK, so the frames are a composite of polypropylene and pulp.
– the boxes are solid wood?
-the doors are made of what? There is a veneer which is a thin wood sheet and that is glued onto what as a backing? MDF or particleboard?
Jamie Smith says
Would have loved to see the response here…
Susan Z says
Hi Corinne. We are replacing our kitchen after finding dangerous mold and I am doing my best to minimize toxins in our remodel (we have two small children).
We are leaning toward Kraftmaid. They appear to have a solid wood door option, but their All Plywood Upgrade does have MDF, as you suggested. I’ve asked for data sheets to confirm whether they are NAUF but haven’t heard back. Would you use shellac to seal off the MDF layer in the otherwise all plywood boxes?
And in terms of finishes, They say they use a catalyzed enamel paint and oven-cured, heat-activated topcoat. I’m assuming this involves conversion varnish? Would you recommend ordering unfinished and hiring a painter to paint with a low VOC paint? Or is there another alternative?
Very grateful for your guidance.
The MDF can be sealed if it’s raw and where you don’t see it. The paint I talk about in the article.
michelle wallach says
After doing my own research with my budget in mind I purchased all wood white RTA cabinets last June which were perfect until the rainy season started and the humidity evidently brought out toxic fumes. So far I have painted all the surfaces I can reach with shellac which helped, but not completely. Wish I had read your recommended list of safe cabinetry first. Live and learn.
Questions about Kenyon Noble. Cabs.
Continental. Or CraftMark. See some plywood in them. But can’t find anymore.
info on them.
Rehabbing small cabin.
there is a post about plywood that might help you compare specs.
This is an amazing blog, an amazing repository of information that Corrine has amassed over time with diligent research and a plethora of options. It’s so impressive. Very grateful…
Are any cabinets that are manufactured in China safe? How can I check them out?
Most are made in the USA. Some of the metal ones are made in China and there isn’t much to check out there (very basic materials) but you can always ask for a sample.
Barter Design says
Thank you for including selections from IKEA! I know it’s not the type that lasts long, but it’s a price point that I’m comfortable with.
I really like your take on the issue. I now have a clear idea on what this matter is all about.
17 Hmr Ammo says
Great Article. I really like your blog. Keep sharing more. Its really the best article!
Jane Askin says
Thank you so much for the effort this must have taken! I’m writing from the Caribbean, limited options unless we ship in. We do have pvc foam board though, which says non toxic but can’t find any specifics on formaldehyde/off gassing. Any thoughts? Thank you again.
Thank you so much for your time posting this information. We actually contacted a company from your list. Is there any company here in naples FL that makes aluminum or steel cabinets ?? Any information is helpful. Thank you.
Would AFM Safecoat seal in any potential leaching from Purebond?
There isn’t much going on with Purebond if you are super sensitive to the soy or to the wood odor that is probably not the sealant to use.
Amanda Neal says
We have to buy ‘affordable’ cabinets which means big box store kind like Kraftmaid, Diamond or American Woodmark. We are going to buy the all plywood option but if we get painted cabinets, which is what we really want, the center panel of the doors is MDF. I also noticed that all of these, including the wood stained cabinets have natural wood color laminate or veneer interiors even in the all plywood constructed boxes. So it seems unavoidable. Do you have any advice? What do you think about the MDF in the doors and the laminate or veneer on the interior of the cabinets? Thank goodness for your website and help through all of this.
Mia Evans says
Thanks for pointing out that engineered wood products would be a good option for kitchens, because solid wood can warp in that kind of room. I will keep that in mind when I get cabinets made for my kitchen this year to add storage areas. I just have started collecting baking tools for a new hobby that I want to try, so I hope that I can hire professionals that I can trust as well.
Amanda Campbell says
Hello, thank you so much for your work. You are making the world a healthier place! We are remodeling our kitchen and as I look at (big box store) cabinets that are upgraded to plywood they all seem to still have the Prop 65 warning. They ALL have it. I was wondering if this is just par for the course? Okay?
Yes it’s either for wood dust or formaldehyde. Phenol formaldehyde in plywood offgases very fast. It becomes non detectable very soon.
Amanda Campbell says
Okay, thank you! I was also noticing the three kitchen cabinets I am looking at all have KCMA certification. Maybe all companies have to have this now? Do you have any intel on the American Woodmark Cabinets? It sounds like if I get all plywood, with solid wood doors I should be doing pretty well? Will painted cabinets off gas quickly you think? I would love to donate to your work. I have found your pages to be so helpful as I remodel our kitchen. Please let me know how and thanks again for your work!
Yes plywood and solid is the way to go. For the paint you will need to see samples.
According to the Crystal website, their cabinets have “domestically sourced and CARB Phase 2 compliant box work materials.” They don’t mention the doors and drawer fronts, which are often made of MDF. I think that if their doors were CARB 2 compliant they would boast it, and not mention just the box. Also, I searched their website for “VOC” and “formaldehyde” and nothing came up.
Every company is CARB 2 compliant on all of there plywood, MDF, HDF and particleboard. You can’t even find those product in Canada or the US at higher than CARB levels unless it’s some small item you bought overseas, even that is unusual. I would choose plywood boxes and solid wood doors in any company.
Hi, Have you had any feed back on Barker cabinets? I see you have them listed here, but unsure of others experiences, ( or if still a recommendation ) I read some reviews on line . Looking for quality and being able to have a healthy kitchen. With Barker we could paint with AFM paint also. I believe they use Sherman Williams if you order pre painted so unsure how that is for off gassing. Barker is much cheaper than like Crystal cabinets. In comparison to Ikea ( wanting wood shaker white cabinets) Vs Barker which would you feel would be healthier for off gassing choice THANK YOU.
barker’s standard paint is a conversion varnish, which I can pick of the offgassing of. I know Corbett Lundsford got barker cabinets, they mention it briefly in a video but you should always check for reviews.
Hi! Thanks. Do you have any info on countertops?
I can’t thank you enough for this amazing website and all the info you share. I’m currently building my first home and I’ve referred to your website a lot. I just wish you were in Australia where I am or there was an Australian equivalent. We have a lot less options especially in the “healthy” building products arena.
Could you please tell me more about your experience with MgO board for your kitchen cabinetry? Did you make the carcasses and draws from it? How is it holding up? Any other info you think to share.
There’s almost no healthy Ply options in Australia so I’d consider MgO board.
Box sides and drawer bottoms were MgO it held up pretty well while I lived there but I don’t live there anymore.
I recently moved into a new house. The cabinet boxes are engineered wood and the cabinet doors are laminate covering particle board. When I open them there is a bitter smell and I’ve noticed my dishes smell like that now too. Could this be toxic?
It’s likely that the boxes are also particleboard then. The smell is formaldehyde.
What is the best thing to do? I can smell it walking into the house.
There is a post on laminate/melamine which talks about sealing and another one on sealing in offgassing. I also offer email consultations if you need more individualized help.
Bonnie Horowitz says
Wellborn cabinets? We have them in a new build second home and every time we arrive I have a sore throat and nasal drip for a few days from the wood cabinet smell. The house is very air tight – is it possible they are still off-gassing five years later?
I don’t know what those are made of but yes it’s possible to pick up very low levels of offgassing 5 years later from some formaldehyde-based engineered wood products. I’m assuming you are chemically sensitive to be picking that up though. Cabinets struggle more than other furniture to offgas because they are almost always closed.
Hi Corinne! Thank you for these wonderful articles. Why do you prefer phenol-formaldehyde plywood over Purebond? I’m considering Kraftmaid (phenol-formaldehyde plywood) vs Crystal cabinets (Purebond plywood).
Hi Julia, I changed that line slightly just now. I used to prefer it because it was just as good on offgassing for my sensitivities and Purebod was usually harder to get and more expensive. Now it’s easier to get and the price is only a little more. There are also sensitive folks who don’t do well with Purebond so it’s not sure bed. My stance right now is I would be fine with either one. Those super sensitive should test both.
I have ordered Wickes Glenco white kitchen units – have I made a mistake? Are these units/doors low VOCs?
I haven’t reviewed that brand.
What are your thoughts on Diamond cabinets? They are not low or VOC free but they comply with CARB phase II.
I haven’t reviewed that brand.
Susan L Stillman says
Are Wolf Designer cabinets low or no VOC? Thanks!
It looks like they have plywood construction with solid wood fronts as an option so it’s similar to some of the options listed here. Check out the paints and finished too.
Do you know of good options for replacing just the kitchen cabinet doors and not the entire cabinets?
Do high gloss flat kitchen cabinets (European style) off gas a lot? I read they are made of the mdf or acrylic sheet? Here is what they look like (just an example of the brand). https://www.fabuwood.com/post/high-gloss-kitchen-cabinets/
Thank you for the wonderful article! We are planning to install some Ikea cabinets in our laundry room, and I’m struggling over which cabinet doors will off gas the least, and would love to get your opinion. I looked into solid wood, but they’re a little pricey, so I’m trying to to decide between doors with an MDF center panel (covered in veneer) with a solid wood outer frame (the back panel is veneer as well), and MDF doors that have been covered in melamine. Thank you!
Particle board covered in Melamine or laminate on all sides is not too bad.
Robin Schwartz says
Hi. I have read that aluminum is toxic. The IMD cabinets are made of aluminum. Can you explain why these are not toxic? Also, is stainless steel safer than aluminum?
You would have to ingest or inhale the aluminum for it to be toxic, in solid form it is fine. Either metal is fine.
gail farrell says
Any experience with Wood Crest cabinetry for Home Hardware???
What are your thoughts about the KCMA’s Environmental Stewardship Program certification? My chemically-sensitive partner and I recently moved into a brand-new building (we’re the first tenants), and the kitchen and bathroom cabinets have the KCMA ESP stickers on them. Would we still want to apply AFM Safecoat? Could it be limited to the unfinished edges of the shelves, etc.?
In terms of offgassing this certification doesn’t help, it only guaranteed CARB which almost all companies in the US will now meet. Here is more about CARB https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2018/12/what-green-certifications-mean-for.html
Hi! Wondering if you could tell me if the IKEA Veddinge cabinets need to be completely covered in the AFM safecoat? Or only exposed ends? Thank you!
It depends on your sensitivities. I would go for IKEA melamine if quite sensitive. Cabinet post has more info.
Heather Tyson says
I contacted Cabinets 2 go and they have said that they are CARB II compliant…do you think this is assurance enough that there will be minimal off-gassing? Thanks!
Hi, this post and the one on pressed wood products (which is linked to in this post) goes into detail on CARB, other certifications for formaldehyde and how to asses that level. https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2018/12/what-green-certifications-mean-for.html
Celina Burns says
Are there any premade kitchen cabinets at Lowes or Home Depot that would be acceptable. What if I seal the inside boards with Kiltz 11, that’s what I did a few years ago. I painted the back of the ceiling blocks before we put them up. No one had a problem with outgassing. What would you do suggest?
Yes I mention a couple brands here, I like using Zinsser shellac to seal, it works fairly well but it is shiny.
Amy Bevins says
We have had a suggestions of making cabinets from sheets of HDPE. Thoughts on this? The contractor then offered to coat them with automobile paint to seal them. Again, thoughts on the safety of this option to seal them.
The outdoor cabinets are made of PE. I would check those out first. I would not use automotive paint but if you have to seal in the plastic with another layer you could. At that level of sensitivity I would look at metal and glass though.
Do you have any experience with Woods cabinets 4 less? I seen on on Debra Lynn Dadds site she mentioned these in 2017?
what’s your experience in Crystal cabinets painted finish off gassing for chemically sensitive?
The studies on plywood only say "rapidly approaches 0". Cabinets take longer because they are almost always closed. So that PF seems to just reabsorbed there inside though eventually it will come out. The outside of cabinets does seem to be quite quick to me. There are other glues and stains and laquers there though as well.
If it's a new build I would leave the cabinet doors open with ventilation in the house while all the finishing are going in.
how quickly does the phenol formaldehyde offgas?