Solid Wood Furniture Is Smarter, Healthier, And Worth It - Part II
Gat Creek is fortunate to be located in the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by the beautiful forests that supply our workshop. It’s a source of pride that, through sustainable management, these forests hold more trees today than they did a century ago. Environmentally and economically, our local forests are healthy and thriving. And there is even more good news when it comes to the healthy advantages of our handcrafted solid wood furniture.
In Part I, we explored the many natural attributes of solid wood that make it the most desirable material for building furniture. Solid hardwood lumber has a remarkably high strength-to-weight ratio without the need for any amendments. As you’ll see, it’s what’s added to your furniture that should raise concern.
A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the air quality in our homes can be as much as three times more harmful than outdoor air pollution. There can be many causes but one of the main culprits, according to a story in The Washington Post, is often your home furnishings. “Your new carpet or cabinet could be subtly poisoning you with chemicals such as benzene, ethylene glycol or formaldehyde. Four of the top 10 chemicals emitted from furnishings are considered acute hazards or irritants,” The Post reported.
It’s called off-gassing and it’s what happens when additives, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), go from their liquid state to a gaseous state. Furniture made with veneers over a fabricated core (see Part I) often rely on a cocktail of chemicals to hold the core together, and the off-gassing can leach into your home for months or even years.
While it’s true that the finishes used by most solid wood furniture makers may contain some VOCs, at Gat Creek our drying process is so effective, 99.9% has evaporated before the piece leaves our workshop. Our off-gas percentage is effectively 0%.
You may think there is a premium to pay for solid wood’s advantages. Interestingly, the wonderful raw material that composes your solid wood furniture is actually less expensive than fabricated veneered panels which require expensive machinery and compounds for their manufacture. For solid wood furniture, the premium you pay compensates makers for their art and craft.
It’s true that at retail, solid wood furniture generally costs more than veneered products. The wise consumer, however, calculates cost over the lifetime of a product and in that regard, solid wood furniture may be the most cost effective purchase you can make for your home. What other household items provide beauty and function for decades and, with minimal care, can be passed along for the next generation to cherish? Only solid wood furniture offers that kind of value.
Modern consumers also value the fact that at Gat Creek, our raw material comes from within a day’s drive from our factory. It doesn’t spend weeks on container ships and trains. Its carbon footprint is about as small as it can be. Add that chapter to the unmatched beauty and unique health advantages and solid wood furniture is a feel good story for any buyer.