Vapor barrier coating for particle board

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I am going to install some kitchen cabinets. The structural parts are plywood, front are solid, but most of the rest is particle board. The mfr calls it something else (furniture board?), but it's plain old particle board as far as I can tell.
The particle board pieces are cover with something - either laminate or plastic - except any places that are not visible.
I know of 2 people personally who had dealings with new kitchen cabinets - one in apt , other in a house - and both suffered allergic reactions to the binding chemicals - formaldehyde or other.
Going to all-plywood or all-wood construction sends the price to a different orbit, since this would essentially be doing a 'custom' job. So for cost, we have to use as standard a material as we can.
My thought is to coat the uncovered surfaces with some kind of sealer - either a primer or water seal product - to seal in any vapors inside.
Long story, I know.... but 2 questions...
1 - Can someone recommend the best type of sealer? I have seen water- and oil-based at Home Depot, as well as various primers, etc.
2 - I heard something recently about the govt outlawing carcinogens in particle board. Anyone know about that?
Whew! That's a long one. (The longer the better. :O)
Thanks.
Bob
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Mail Man Bob wrote: | I am going to install some kitchen cabinets. The structural parts | are plywood, front are solid, but most of the rest is particle | board. The mfr calls it something else (furniture board?), but | it's plain old particle board as far as I can tell. | | The particle board pieces are cover with something - either | laminate or plastic - except any places that are not visible. | | I know of 2 people personally who had dealings with new kitchen | cabinets - one in apt , other in a house - and both suffered | allergic reactions to the binding chemicals - formaldehyde or other. | | Going to all-plywood or all-wood construction sends the price to a | different orbit, since this would essentially be doing a 'custom' | job. So for cost, we have to use as standard a material as we can. | | My thought is to coat the uncovered surfaces with some kind of | sealer - either a primer or water seal product - to seal in any | vapors inside. | | Long story, I know.... but 2 questions... | | 1 - Can someone recommend the best type of sealer? I have seen | water- and oil-based at Home Depot, as well as various primers, etc. | | 2 - I heard something recently about the govt outlawing carcinogens | in particle board. Anyone know about that?
It's not clear whether you're building or buying these cabinets.
If you're buying them, then you should be able to apply a light wipe-on coat of poly to seal as much of the material as you can get at. It should help to decrease moisture problems and inhibit (somewhat) outgassing.
If you're building the cabinets, you might consider substituting a product like Extira(tm) that uses acrylic plastic as a binder to eliminate moisture problems and sidestep the outgassing problems entirely. It looks like MDF, machines like MDF, and eats tool edges just like MDF - but won't change dimensions more than 2% even when left immersed in water. I've applied shellac, poly, and Zinser 1-2-3 primer without difficulties.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto /
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Morris Dovey wrote:

Bet that stuff weighs a ton, with all that plastic in it. And I don't know what the fire retardancy would be like...
W. Underhill
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"Take sides! Always take sides! You may sometimes be wrong - but the man
who refuses to take sides must *always* be wrong! Heaven save us from
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William Underhill wrote: | Morris Dovey wrote: | || If you're building the cabinets, you might consider substituting a || product like Extira(tm) that uses acrylic plastic as a binder to || eliminate moisture problems and sidestep the outgassing problems || entirely. It looks like MDF, machines like MDF, and eats tool edges || just like MDF - but won't change dimensions more than 2% even when || left immersed in water. I've applied shellac, poly, and Zinser || 1-2-3 primer without difficulties. | | Bet that stuff weighs a ton, with all that plastic in it. And I | don't know what the fire retardancy would be like...
I should have added: "Heavy like MDF" to the list. I'm not sure about the relative combustability.
I use it for routed signs. You can see an example by following the link in my sig.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/PT_Sign.html
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Even if the vapors are safe, it would be a good idea to seal moisture out.
I've seen lots of cabinets fall apart when the particle board, mdf, etc gets
wet.
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"Mail Man Bob" wrote:
> My thought is to coat the uncovered surfaces with some kind of sealer - > either a primer or water seal product - to seal in any vapors inside.
Why not shellac?
Lew
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Good question. Shellac was my first thought also. Anyone have more ideas as to what kind of sealer would be best?
Also, I looked at water-based and oil-based. I'll have to do the application in the house, so whichever will dissipate quicker and still seal good would be best for me.

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Mail Man Bob wrote:
> Good question. Shellac was my first thought also. Anyone have more ideas > as to what kind of sealer would be best? > > Also, I looked at water-based and oil-based. I'll have to do the > application in the house, so whichever will dissipate quicker and still seal > good would be best for me.
Shellac and it's alcohol
VOCs become NBD
I'd probably use 1 lb, maybe even 1/2 lb cut based on how it applies.
YMMV.
BTW, my idea of water based stuff is interior wall paint, just so you know I'm biased.
Lew
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Thanks LH.

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If you haven't bought cabinets yet I would check local stores instead of HD or Lowes. I did and found better quality installed for less money than HD and Lowes wanted without installation included.

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Yes, same here. These are by Mid Continent thru a reputable installer.

mfr
cabinets -

cost,
and
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Another approach to this is to "cook off" the chemicals that are outgassing before the cabinets are brought into the home... The outgassing can be sped up by placing the cabinets in a relatively hot environment for a while. For example, an uninsulated closed up garage that gets a lot of sun, or a sunny "Florida room" that can be isolated from the main home is probably sufficient for this purpose. The same type of thing can be done to cook off the chemicals in carpets, polyester fiber fill in pillows, etc.
Another approach is to use forced ventilation to remove the chemical laden air from the home. An air-to-air heat exchanger is advisable to save on the "conditioned air" expense.
Look up Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and/or Environmental Illness for more information on speeding up the outgassing process and on how to deal with internal air pollution in general.
John
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Shellac has the best vapor-barrier properties of any finish, even the newer plastic ones. Ten billion lac bugs can't be wrong.
Ron Hock www.hockfinishes.com
Mail Man Bob wrote:

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Thanks, Ron. Shellac it is.

mfr
cabinets -

the
different
cost,
and
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Thanks everyone for all the great info. I'll trot down to the shellac store and let you know how it turns out.
What's a good binaries group that most people have access to -- I'll post a few snap shots FWIW.
Bob
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Mail Man Bob wrote:

Mix it yourself, Bob. The pre-mixed stuff comes with the risk of it being too old to work properly. Once mixed, shellac and alcohol begin to form esters that retard drying and reduce the dried film's water resistance. Use denatured alcohol (again, buy fresh as it absorbs water from the air while open and most half-cans that are sitting around probably contain more water than you'd want) in a ratio of about one pound shellac flakes to one gallon of alcohol (precision not required). For smaller quantities, do the math.
It's my opinion that the reason shellac fell from favor a few decades ago was due to the prevalence of canned shellac that didn't perform as well as it could because it was too old. That, and the hoopla around those new polyurethanes led the market to assume that shellac was old-hat. There's still a prevalent myth that a wet glass will leave a ring on a shellac finish but that's not true if the shellac had been freshly mixed. Shellac will, however, soften in the prolonged presence of distilled spirits (whiskey, et al -- so mop up after that party) and it begins to soften at about 140F so you can't set a cuppa on it without a coaster or it will deboss a mug-shaped ring.
Sorry to go on and on but the more I learn about shellac the more I like the stuff. Good luck with your project, Bob. I think sealing those panels is a good, healthy idea and I've no doubt that shellac is the best finish to use.
Ron
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Ron Hock
HOCK TOOLS www.hocktools.com & www.hockfinishes.com
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Where's a good place to get shellac for mixing yourself? All I could find were quarts at Home Depot, but I'm sure they are pre-mixed.

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Mail Man Bob wrote:

Woodcraft, Homestead Finishing, or other better woodworking finish suppliers. It comes as dry flakes or buttons, which need to be chopped up for faster dissolving.
Personally, I've been very happy with fresh Zinnser Seal Coat, available at GOOD paint stores, but not necessarily the big home centers.
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While on a work assignment in Germany many years ago, I was made aware that the German building code which governed casework, required that all exposed edges of melamine board ( particle board substrate) be covered. Presumably for the formaldehyde outgassing problem mentioned here. The German cabinet makers used edgebanding at that time, Joe G
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wrote:

mfr
cabinets -

the
different
cost,
and
Thanks, Joe. Do you know where to get edgebanding?
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