How should I prioritize for IAQ: cabinetry, floor finishes, construction adhesives and caulks, interior doors, subfloor, etc.

Asked by Kate
Charlottesville, VA

We are having a new home built, and can't do everything that we want due to budget constraints. We want to do what will give us the most "bang for the buck" as far as indoor air quality. Where should our priorities be as far as materials that we choose?


I think that your best bet is to go after items that take the longest to off-gas, such as formaldehyde in pressed wood products.

  • The EPA is seeking to reduce the formaldehyde in wood products and will be adopting the standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2013.
  • So if you purchase products that meet the CARB rule, you'll be doing better than EPA standards and you can do even better by purchasing "formaldehyde-free" products such as those made by Columbia Forest Products.  

You can also offset your IAQ investment with saving in other areas.

  • Cabinetry can be a significant cost center and a simple shaker door, which fits many styles, will cost you by far less than one with mitered corners and inserts.
  • Although not a building material, an important aspect of IAQ is ventilation and I would urge you to look into Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV)  which will improve air quality while saving you money on your energy bill.


For more information:

Read our backgrounder "Improving Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality: From Basic to Bigger and Better Steps."

Tagged In: home air quality

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