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Import Vs. Domestic Cabinetry

     There are many questions and opinions raised on the topic of purchasing imported cabinetry from China and other countries that are sold in the United States.  In the past, there is no doubt that countries like China have had lower regulation standards in their wood manufacturing and cabinetry finishing processes.  The lack of regulation had allowed for subpar craftsmanship and chemical treating that would normally be unheard of in the United States.  The flip side of the coin, is that people could get cabinetry at significantly lower pricing than the normal asking rate of a domestic cabinet supplier.  The only answer that could fix this problem were to have the United States raise the bar on what comes into the country from overseas.  The outcome of this demand has created what is now the hottest new market in high quality imported cabinetry products, with a tight regulatory process and standards called K.C.M.A. Certification, and CARB 2 Compliance. 


KCMA Certification. 


     KCMA is a non-profit organization founded in 1955 to represent companies who manufacture kitchen, bath, or other residential cabinets, produce decorative laminates, as well their suppliers. With a membership now over 400 strong throughout the United States, KMCA works to advance the industry through advocacy, setting standards, sponsoring research, and providing management tools and educational programs. KCMA sponsors the nationally recognized voluntary testing and certification program for cabinets, ANSI/KCMA A161.1, Performance & Construction Standard for Kitchen and Vanity Cabinets. The program is referenced by U.S. government agencies, architects, builders, remodelers, and other specifiers. Cabinets that comply and bear the KCMA certification seal are recognized in the marketplace as a quality product able to perform after a rigorous battery of tests simulating years of typical household use. Tests are performed by approved third-party independent laboratories. Samples for testing are selected in an unannounced visit to the manufacturing plant.  For more information please visit


CARB 2 Compliance.


In April 2007, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency, voted to implement new limits for formaldehyde emitted from composite wood panels. These new limits will be implemented in two phases starting January 1, 2009. When the final limits are fully in place by 2012, the regulation will establish the toughest production standard in the world for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood panels.  The California regulation governs the formaldehyde in both raw composite wood panels and finished products sold or used in California. Both imported and domestic products are regulated, and must be third-party certified and clearly labeled to indicate they meet California’s requirements.


What is the outcome of these laws that were put in place?  Overseas cabinetry manufacturers were forced to raise the bar in their manufacturing practices if they wanted to continue to export cabinetry into the United States.  The old stipulation of purchasing only domestic cabinetry have been completely discredited.  In fact, many domestic cabinetry fabricators use imported treated wood that comes from... you guessed it, China.  Some of the largest cabinetry brands in the united states have been known for openly using imported wood products from China and other importing countries.  On the other side of the coin, many factories in China and other countries actually import wood from North America.  It is not uncommon to see North American wood species in a import cabinetry style.  This is also true not only with cabinetry, but with furniture manufacturing as well.


At Important Cabinets, we hand pick each cabinet that we sell.  If we feel that a cabinet is meeting the required KCMA / Carb 2 standards, but still does not have the look , feel, and craftsmanship that meet our level of standards, we will not carry it.  We pride ourselves on only carrying the highest quality craftsmanship.  This includes the cabinetry construction, the way that the stain has been applied to the wood, the thickness of the cabinetry boxes, and of course, no particle board or press board is ever accepted here.