MDF sealer best for formaldehyde containment?


I have a computer desk to assemble; after unpacking, it was discovered to have large exposed areas of raw mdf. As I'm fairly allergic to the formaldehyde used in the material (suffering severe throat and sinus inflammation), I was wondering if an application of something like Varathane might be sufficient to contain the offgassing? There are a few raw ends which I realize are more porous, but the majority of the threat as far as I can tell is from the large flat surfaces on the unfinished sides of the materials.
Anyone have a simple/cheap containment method, or are we just better advised to ditch the mdf and get something of real wood?
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Paint will work fine to seal the fumes. I'd recommend a shellac based primer and then whatever latex paint you won't to use for the final coat. For any exposed edges, I used to use spackle, but its such a PITA to sand, I started using glue. That's right, plain old woodworkers glue. It sands much cleaner than spakle and I think the finished edge is much smoother to the touch.
Chuck
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Woodchuck34 wrote:

How does it take primer, and paint? Do you use normal primer, or the high-adhesion stuff?
JP
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Jay Pique wrote:

Sorry for the delay in getting back....
I always use Kilz or Zinsser's, and for the longest time used the oil based primers, but thanks to some of the good folks here, I started using shellac based and I have had much better results. It is much easier to apply, dries faster, and requires only a light sanding in between coats. The key, and this is only is you want a silky smooth finish like for a molding, is to treat the edges with something. I now use glue. If you don't need a silky smooth finish on the edges and just want to seal it, I just use the primer. You'll have to apply a lot more coats on the edges, it really sucks the paint up.
Chuck
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On 8 Mar 2006 12:24:09 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@pdxconnect.com"

You can leave the desk in a garage for a couple months to de-gas.
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The easiest, but longest method timewise, would be to put the desk in a warm to hot environment and basically cook the fumes off... I have the same types of reactions to things like carpet and polyester fiber fill in coats, pillows and quilt batting. In the warmer months my wife puts the quilt batting on an unconditioned enclosed porch and lets it sit there for a couple weeks. The alternative is to throw the items in the dryer. For things like particle board, MDF, and other sheet goods I left the stuff sit in the garage for a few weeks, with air space all around, until the fumes dissipate.
John
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snipped-for-privacy@pdxconnect.com says...

Two coats of polyurethane varnish?
-P.
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: I have a computer desk to assemble; after unpacking, it was discovered : to have large exposed areas of raw mdf. As I'm fairly allergic to the : formaldehyde used in the material (suffering severe throat and sinus : inflammation), I was wondering if an application of something like : Varathane might be sufficient to contain the offgassing? There are a : few raw ends which I realize are more porous, but the majority of the : threat as far as I can tell is from the large flat surfaces on the : unfinished sides of the materials.
: Anyone have a simple/cheap containment method, or are we just better : advised to ditch the mdf and get something of real wood?
Fastest thing to do is use shellac. Dries fast, goes on easy, and will seal very nicely. Look for Bullseye sealer, or shellac, at better hardware stores or home centers.
    -- Andy Barss
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