I love these questions: Is this wood? If so, what kind of wood is it?

Those were actual questions submitted by a person named Cynthia in July 2018 to Home Depot’s website in reference to the Martha Stewart line of cabinets. The brand has been sold at Home Depot for nearly eight years. The question was regarding a line of door styles named PureStyle™ launched in 2014. PureStyle doors are a collection of five-piece, profile-wrapped doors in both textures and smooth finishes and flat-panel or slab doors in textured and smooth thermally fused laminate.

The consumer’s questions are instructive in that she apparently liked the look and feel of the doors but was curious about the materials or possibly suspicious.

So what about the answers to the questions: Is this wood? If so, what kind of wood is it?

Below are two responses. One is a direct answer to the question from a Home Depot customer care representative and the second is Martha Stewart’s description of the PureStyle door collection.

Here is the Hope Depot representative’s answer:

“Thank you for your interest in Martha Stewart Living Cabinetry! Tipton doors are made of PureStyle™, which is a durable laminate-based material that provides superior abrasion resistance and meets/exceeds all of the KCMA performance standards. On Tipton, PureStyle™ is wrapped around rails and panels (versus form pressed onto a Medium Density Fiberboard slab like Thermofoil) and has a top coat for superior durability. The lineals and core panel material are made of MDF to ensure a consistent and stable product. The cabinet boxes come standard with Furniture Board, or can be upgraded to All Plywood Laminate or All Plywood Finished. Please see your local Home Depot designer to determine which cabinet box construction is the best option for you and your lifestyle.”

Understanding the variety of surface materials in our industry can be daunting for anyone, including industry professionals. Some leeway must be given in this case. All in all, the answer was OK and likely constructed from a standard script. I can’t help but think the customer care rep took some liberty and editorialized based on personal impressions.

There was no mention that PureStyle surface material is “paper,” but the rep does a decent job of differentiating from 3DL thermofoil doors. And the rep gave a nice endorsement of medium density fiberboard, described as stable and consistent, which I attribute to HGTV home improvement hosts repeatedly informing consumers about the wonders of MDF.

Here’s where I have a problem: “Furniture Board” (capitalized, no less)? What is that? Is this some new wood composite that the Russians have covertly released on the world? Is that why the Composite Panel Association refuses to recognize the Russians? Whatever it is, trainloads of it are being used. Call up the military. Someone has to do something about this!

 OK, we know that Furniture Board is particleboard. But why are we so shy or ashamed to admit what it is. Some of the most expensive office furniture, store fixtures and kitchen cabinets in the world are made with particleboard. Environmentally sound, made from waste materials and highly engineered, particleboard is the perfect composite material. Let’s call it what it is.

Here is how Martha Stewart describes PureStyle;

“PureStyle is a superior-quality finish that replicates paint or wood with the added advantages of superb durability, easy maintenance, and an affordable price point. PureStyle is also a more environmentally conscientious option, as the doors are made from a high percentage of recycled wood fiber materials.”

She even has a video where she describes the construction and benefits of profile-wrapped lineals. She effectively positions PureStyle as superior to painted products. While Martha Stewart doesn’t reference particleboard and MDF, she makes a great case for PureStyle.

Martha Stewart put her name on thermally fused laminate made with particleboard and five-piece doors made from MDF profile wrapped with paper. If she gets behind our industry’s products, none of us—and certainly not Home Depot—should be bashful about proudly proclaiming: This product is made from particleboard and MDF.