It isn’t easy to find ready to assemble bathroom vanities made out of solid wood without formaldehyde-containing pressed wood products.
The brands in this post use durable materials that are healthier – eliminating or minimizing formaldehyde offgassing.
Using high-quality materials like solid wood results in a low-VOC end product.
This is my priority list of what to look for:
- The doors and drawer fronts are ideally solid wood, along with the frame and drawer sides.
- Plywood may be used as the boxes of the vanities (since solid wood is almost never used here). It should be made with phenol-formaldehyde, which offgases very quickly (not urea-formaldehyde). You may need to ask the companies which type they use.
- Ideally no MDF or HDF is used which offgas higher levels of formaldehyde. If either of these are used it should be in an area that is easy to seal (so that we can seal in the formaldehyde offgassing).
- Particleboard that is laminated with melamine plastic is lower in offgassing than options made of MDF, but I didn’t include those options. If you do go with particleboard construction, seal the rough edges to stop the offgassing of formaldehyde.
- Low or zero-VOC stain or paint.
- A countertop that doe not offgas and doesn’t require a toxic sealant is ideal.
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1. Kohler Bathroom Vanities
The reps for Kohler have said that the Poplin does not contain particleboard, MDF, or HDF.
The Poplin has plywood as the boxes, solid wood drawers with dovetail construction, and it’s finished with a catalyzed conversion varnish.
The samples of their finishes that I ordered were painted onto MDF and were labeled with a date. I could smell the MDF offgassing, but I could not deduce anything about the paint since it was already one year old.
They also sell countertops to go with the vanities. The first option has an integrated sink and is made of ceramic, another option is enameled cast iron, and the third option is solid surface acrylic. All of these countertops are excellent since they do not offgas VOCs.
The conversion varnish might have some low-level offgassing.
- Poplin 60″ $2,718
- Poplin 48″ $2,718
- Poplin 36″ $1,910
- Poplin 30″ $1,745
- Poplin 24″ $1,416
You can buy Kohler Vanities through their website.
2. Room and Board Bathroom Vanities
The Kenwood Vanity from Room and Board is another good choice. It is made of ash wood with a stain, a white quartz countertop, a rectangular sink, and stainless steel hardware and legs.
The vanity is made from solid wood and Ash veneers laid over plywood.
There is no MDF, particleboard, or HDF and there is no added formaldehyde, they claimed when I spoke to them. They have also said to someone in the comments that the sides which are not solid are MDF covered in veneer (the doors are definitely solid wood).
The stain is solvent-based and has a VOC level of 3.63 lb/gal. Solvent-based stains can offgas quickly. You would want to check this out if you are chemically sensitive.
The quartz countertops are a great choice for those avoiding offgassing.
- Kenwood 72″ $2,399 – $3,099
- Kenwood 60″ $2,099 – $2,799
- Kenwood 48″ $1,999 – $2,499
- Kenwood 36″ $1,299 – $1,699
- Kenwood 26″ $1,099 – $1,499
Buy from Room and Board.
3. Signature Hardware
These vanities are framed with dovetailed joints and are made of solid wood. The doors and drawers are made with veneer over plywood.
Most of the Aliso line is made of unfinished natural teak, with no stain or sealant present on the wood. You can leave teak unfinished and let it grey out or finish it with an all-natural penetrating drying oil. There are only a couple of non-toxic water-based finishes that work on teak, they are listed here in the post on deck stains.
I got a sample of their natural teak and their Java stained teak. The Java had practically no odor (though I don’t know the exact age of the sample).
The only MDF/HDF used is on the back panel of the vanity. I would still consider this option because when the backing is fiberboard it’s easy to seal it with three coats of shellac which will seal in almost all of the formaldehyde.
The countertop options include quartz, marble, and granite. While quartz has essentially no offgassing and doesn’t need a sealant, white marble does need a sealant, and black granite may or may not, depending on the density of that slab.
Black granite can be sealed with an all-natural sealant but white marble needs one of these low-VOC synthetic sealants.
- Aliso 60″ $1,889
- Aliso 48″ $1,619
- Aliso 30″ $1,169
Buy from Signature Hardware.
4. Aria Collection from Kitchen Bath Collection
These vanity cabinets are made with 100% solid wood and plywood only. There is absolutely no MDF or particleboard anywhere in this product, the company makes that very clear.
The drawers are dovetailed and made with 100% solid wood.
At the time of writing the cabinets were finished with Sherwin-Williams paint, but that seems to have changed. Be sure to check with them for the latest (that goes for all the companies on this list).
The price includes the countertop. The options include Cararra marble and quartz. (Here are the low-VOC sealants for light marble).
- Aria 60″ $1,499
- Aria 48″ $1,299
- Aria 42″ $1,299
- Aria 36″ $1,099
Buy from Kitchen Bath Collection.
5. NorthPoint Cabinets
NorthPoint Cabinets make RTA and assembled vanities. The RTA line has a solid wood + 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.
Other big brands: Restoration Hardware vanities look like they are solid based on the website but they are not. I also looked at Pottery Barn and didn’t see any solid wood options there.
6. Semi-Custom Options
Companies that make low-VOC semi-custom kitchen cabinets usually make bathroom vanities as well.
Kraftmaid is a company I like because they have the option to use only solid wood and plywood, the paints and varnishes did not have any offgassing, and they are widely available. (Though semi-custom takes a lot longer to order).
It sounds like they might have switched to a plywood that has MDF in the layers (more offgassing), be sure to check with the latest materials they are using.
7. Convert a Dressor into a Vanity
Another option is to look for an antique or solid wood dresser and covert it into a vanity. Of course, you need to modify the top and back and install a non-toxic countertop of your choice.
You do want to check to see if the dresser has been re-finished recently, especially to find out if it was refinished with oil-based products which can have significant offgassing.
If you are going to refinish it yourself I would recommend a durable coating like water-based Vermont Natural Coatings or a natural oil finish like Tung oil.
8. Custom Options
Of course, you can go totally custom as well. You can easily ask for solid wood fronts and plywood boxes this way. You could also request formaldehyde-free plywood for the boxes. You can choose your own paint or varnish. It’s unusual to use solid wood for the boxes. Healthy Cabinet Makers is one company that can custom make bathroom vanities with only solid wood, including the boxes.
You can also use open shelving below your sink instead of a vanity. Your shelves could be solid wood or metal like the IKEA ENHET.
- Non-Toxic Kitchen Cabinets
- Non-Toxic Cabinet Paint
- Non-Toxic Countertop Materials
- Natural Sealants for Dark Stone Countertops
- Low-VOC Sealants for Light Colored Stone Countertops
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
Holly Lynch says
What are your thoughts on the “Signature Hardware 953347 48 RUMB- Elmdale” (on Amazon) bathroom vanity in terms of safety? I want to choose a vanity that does not have a lot of toxic chemicals but am having trouble finding something with an “antique look”.
The two options that they currently have on amazon are veneered MDF on the panels and doors, so very standard, not in the non toxic category for me.
I am currently looking at vanities from Room and Board and Signature Hardware. Do you know if any of the other lines from these companies are MDF free? I prefer the look of the Emerson Vanity from room and board, and the description is the same as the one you recommend.
As a follow up…I spoke to Room and Board and they confirmed that all of their vanities DO contain MDF on the sides (underneath the veneer).
I added that to the article, it’s def not what they told me, but thanks for sharing what they said.
I live in the Hudson Valley,New York. I’m looking for a non-toxic 36 in solid wood vanity. (oak or light brown with or without a top) If possible, already made,
however, I will order to have it made. Do you know of any USA vanity makers in New York who can fulfill this order? My daughter is sensitive to formaldehyde. Thank you.