REBUF – A Simple Lab Design Framework

REBUF is an acronym – it stands for “Research, Budget, Facilities” – that is meant to simplify complex decisions around laboratory design.

The basic idea is simple: What are the constraints of your research, what kind of budget are you dealing with, and what are the physical constraints of the space you’ll be building. Answering these three simple questions will guide your investment and help ease difficult purchasing decisions.

More lab design resources:


  • Does your research involve live animals, bacteria, and or microbes?
  • Does you use strong acids or other corrosive chemicals?
  • Do you work with semiconductors, circuits, and other electronics?
  • Is it probable that your research may change within a year or is on a limited time frame?
  • Do you work with complex instrumentation?

Working with Animals, Bacteria or Microbes?

If you are dealing with living things, stainless steel furniture is your number one option. You can nearly make an entire lab with stainless steel, including table frames, cabinets, countertops, integrals sinks, and drying racks.

Stainless steel is extremely easy to clean because of it’s anti-bacterial non-porous properties. Places like clean rooms, morgues, veterinary labs, and rare disease labs all will find stainless steel furniture an attractive option.

Working with Acids?

For research that poses a corrosion risk, we recommend phenolic resin (Chemical Grade PCR from Durcon) and if needed, epoxy resin. These are specially cured countertops made in a high heat thermosetting process that can be fabricated in nearly all standard dimensions and thicknesses.

Epoxy resin is a classic countertop material used in schools and labs across the world, and phenolic recently has been gaining ground. Phenolic resin countertops are in fact more cost effective, far more scratch resistant, and more chemical resistant than epoxy, as well as being easier to obtain.

That being said, both epoxy and phenolic stand up strong to chemicals.

Working with electronics?

You likely need ESD safe seating and laminate countertops.

Use custom work surface materials that will dissipate charge and provide a safe workstation for semiconductors and other electronics production. Chairs for ESD labs are specially build to ground any charge that may flow through the work.

Is your research subject to change?

If you foresee your facility changing hands in the next year or so, or need the flexibility to adjust the layout, opt for modular furniture.

This includes lab island, modular casework, flexible shelving, and ductless fume hoods.

Working with complex instruments?

If your work involves some kind of mass spec equipment, you will need custom benches to fit the instrument.

The price tag for lab equipment can be quite high. You will find building a custom bench equipped with vacuum pumps, sound dampening, and monitor arms is affordable in comparison.

Investing in a strong custom mass spec bench will help your valuable equipment stay in pristine condition for as long as possible without being a noisy disruption to your lab.


  • Are you looking for the very top of line furnishings?
  • Are you looking to maximize value on a limited budget?
  • Are you looking to add or replace a single cabinet, furnishing a room, or building out multiple floors?

Furnishing a lab is not one-size-fits all, and there is a nearly limitless combination of models and configurations for everything from casework and workbenches, to countertops, sinks, and drying racks.

For industries like higher education, government, and military facilities, you are likely dealing with a strict budget. It may take hard work over months and even years to secure solid funding for an improved scientific or industrial space.

Every dollar has to be accounted for. Usually deals are done through bids, and this involves a lot of paperwork.

On the other hand, privately held corporations like medical device firms and pharmaceuticals may have looser purchasing constraints and more readily available funding.


This refers to the logistics involved installing new furnishing and possibly removing or demolishing old items. Measurements like doorway and hallway width, staircases, freight elevators will all come into play, especially for larger items like fume hoods or clean rooms enclosures.

When discussed with your lab furniture sales rep, make sure to keep in mind not only the floor plan of the actual lab, but the facilities through which the items must be moved and installed, including loading docks, forklifts needed, and hallway dimensions.

Get More Guidance on Your Lab Project

Put the pieces together, and laboratory construction doesn’t need to be complicated. In addition to the REBUF framework, our sales reps can work through all of your requirements and recommend the right items for your research, budget, and facilities.

To get in touch with us, call (866) 612-7312 or fill out a contact form. One of our sales reps will get in touch at their next availability during business hours.

Questions? Concerns? Want to start today? Get in touch. 866.612.7312

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