8 min read

National Hardwood Lumber Association, Explained

Written by:

Christi Farrell, RA, Leed GA


November 8, 2022

Image source:

Studio Marlowe

The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) is integral to maintaining the quality and sustainability of hardwood used in interior design.

In a world where health and environment are becoming increasingly paramount in our lives, understanding the NHLA's role can help consumers make informed decisions about the wood products they bring into their homes.

What is the National Hardwood Lumber Association?

Founded in 1898, the NHLA is a cornerstone in the wood products industry, particularly for those focusing on hardwood lumber.

It serves as a central governing body that sets standards for the grading of hardwood lumber, a pivotal aspect for any stakeholder in the wood value chain – from producers to end consumers.

In essence, the NHLA ensures that the quality of hardwood lumber is consistent, sustainable, and can be trusted by interior designers and homeowners alike.

NHLA's Relevance in Healthy Interior Design

The quality of materials is at the forefront of the healthy home movement.

As individuals endeavor to create living spaces that not only look good but also contribute to their well-being, the importance of non-toxic, sustainable materials has surged.

Hardwoods that meet the NHLA's grading standards are less likely to emit harmful substances such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are known to compromise indoor air quality.

High-quality lumber is also more durable, reducing the need for frequent replacements and thus lessening the environmental impact.

The NHLA has a part in promoting responsible forest management and encourages the use of wood from replenishable sources, which aligns with the principles of healthy interior design.

NHLA Certification: A Mark of Quality and Sustainability

The Certification's Impact on Material Selection

When selecting materials for a healthy home, it is crucial to look for certifications that attest to the product's quality and ecological impact.

NHLA certification acts as a stamp of approval, indicating that the lumber has met rigorous standards.

This reassurance is vital for anyone prioritizing a healthy and sustainable living space.

Room and Board: A Case Study

Room and Board, a prominent furniture brand, claims to have NHLA certification for its wood products.

This signals Room and Board's commitment to sustainable practices and high-quality materials – factors that resonate with health-conscious consumers.

Implementing NHLA Standards in Your Home

Choosing Certified Hardwood for Furniture and Fixtures

When outfitting your home, opting for hardwood pieces that boast NHLA certification can be beneficial for your health and peace of mind.

Certified hardwood is more likely to have undergone more sustainable harvesting techniques and possess longevity, which is essential for reducing waste and maintaining healthy indoor environments.

Impact on Air Quality and Long-term Health

The selection of appropriate materials goes beyond aesthetic; it influences the air you breathe.

Hardwood that complies with NHLA standards has a lowered risk of contributing to indoor air pollution – a vital component of building a healthy home.

Myths about Hardwood and Health

A common misconception is that all wood products are naturally healthy.

However, without proper standards and certifications, wood can be treated with chemicals that have the potential to harm interior air quality.

Understanding NHLA certifications can guide consumers away from these pitfalls.

Verifying Certifications

Ensuring that a product's NHLA certification is genuine is a critical step for homeowners.

Checking the validity of the certification can involve asking for evidence from the retailer, researching the brand, or consulting the NHLA directly for their list of certified members.

Frequently Asked Questions about NHLA

Q: What does NHLA certification imply for a product?
A: NHLA certification means the hardwood has met stringent grading standards for quality and uniformity, often indicative of sustainable sourcing and processing.

Q: How does NHLA grading contribute to a healthier home?
A: By adhering to these standards, manufacturers are likelier to produce hardwood that is more durable and emits fewer VOCs, which is beneficial for indoor air quality.

Q: Can I trust the NHLA certification when choosing furniture?
A: Yes, provided that you verify the certification's authenticity. It is a reliable indicator of sustainable and responsible wood production practices.

Q: What should I do if I doubt the authenticity of Room and Board's NHLA certification?
A: Contact Room and Board for evidence of their certification, or consult the NHLA's member directory to confirm their standing.

In Conclusion

The National Hardwood Lumber Association plays a pivotal role in healthy interior design by setting standards that ensure the quality and sustainability of hardwood.

For conscientious consumers, understanding and seeking NHLA certification – as claimed by brands like Room and Board – can be a significant step towards creating a healthier home environment.

Always remember to verify the certification's authenticity for peace of mind in your material selections.

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Christi Farrell

Christi is a licensed architect and interior designer specializing in sustainability. She enjoys teaching design and bringing transparency to the impact that furniture has on our planet.

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