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Toxicity and Curing of Hardwood Furniture Finishes

Remember the Katrina trailers?  That was formaldehyde, causing symptoms of

  • watery eyes
  • burning sensations of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • nausea
  • skin irritation

Our furniture makers use the very best available materials to produce a hard, durable, lasting finish on all our hardwood furniture pieces. Most people are now aware, however, that the finish undergoes a chemical reaction for several weeks after it is completely finished.  During this curing process, the finish emits added urea formaldehyde as the clear fiish coats harden and cure.  Only after curing is complete - and no finish smell can be detected - can the furniture be regarded as non-toxic.

At Endicott Home Furnishings, we concern ourselves with more than just selling furniture and working toward our store's success.  We invest our time and dollars in space saving solutions that are flexible in design to fit your body, your space, and your style, but not at the expense of your health.  Many types of unhealthy chemicals can enter your house with what might seem like safe products, from hand soaps to baby changing pads, carpeting to upholstered furniture and engineered wood products. 

We focus on two of the most pervasive and avoidable issues:

1. chemical flame retardants in upholstered goods, and

2. urea formaldehyde added to make anything  from sofa frames to foam to fabrics, and we avoid plywood with added formaldhyde.

As a rule, we avoid press-board products, as they rely heavily on strong glues, tend to come via imported furniture at a promotional level, and are therefore not easy to certify as formaldehyde-free.

We're your local leaders in the area of safer upholstery. Read our story here

When it comes to our wood products, we do not sell or show on our store floor any wood products with added urea formadehyde in the glues.  Formaldehyde is in all of us, made by our bodies and by plants .  Urea formaldehyde, though, is a potentially serious irritant for increasing numbers of people who might not have been sensitive to chemicals earlier in life.  (Read more here from the American Cancer Society.) By sticking to solid wood furniture and sofa frames made using plywood that does not contain added urea formaldehyde, we can offer safer, more flexible options without the carcinogenic chemicals.

That said, the best finishes available for our long lasting hardwood pieces made for our store by small shops around the country uses a process that does need additional time to cure before you bring it into your well-sealed, insulated home.  During the curing process, the formaldehyde used in the best finishes available today releases a noticeable smell as it off gasses the remaining formaldehyde in the finish as part of the curing process. (And yes - we have looked for and wide for an alternative, but because people are generally unwilling topay more for a safer finish, we do not see the availability of lower VOC finishes for use on high quality furniture.  Ask for more information, as this quest continues.)

Whether you are sensitive to smells and the odors of petroleum products, or you have no sensitivity whatsoever, we believe it is important to maintain the cleanest indoor air quality possible for good health.

Here is the inherent tension in what we do:

To keep prices low, we have a small shop with limited space for receiving and shipping out, so we get things here as quickly as possible, and out the door as promptly as we can, using a local delivery service.  We have no storage space to spare.

This fairly recent trend of consumer chemical sensitivity puts our concerns for your health at odds with our limitied storage space.  When we can, we would gladly hold pieces for an additional 2-3 weeks to make sure the curing process has completed and no odor of the finish is still emitting from the furniture when you take possession.

Because we have no extra space, need to keep prices low for our customers, and yet we offer excellent quality furniture that needs to cure before going into your house, we need your help to ensure a good hardwood furniture purchase does not result in an unpleasant situation in your home.  We ask that you make space for hardwood furniture in your garage or in a part of the house which is not connected to the ventialtion system in your home.  If that is not practical, we can arrange for a month of storage with our delivery partners.


Thanks for your understanding!