How to Quickly Seal Hardboard

I recently purchased a latex mattress and platform bed frame. The wire grid was spaced much wider than recommended for a latex mattress, so I purchased some perforated hardboard. But it's been a month and there's still an incredibly strong chemical smell. I vigorously vacuumed the hardboard after cutting to size to minimize dust, but I guess I should have been more worried about the resins. I chose hardboard over plywood or MDF specifically out of concern for off-gassing, but safe or not the smell is intolerable.
My question is, what's the quickest way to seal the hardboard? I was thinking Modge Podge or triple-thick water-based polyurethane. Both Modge Podge and polyurethane can take weeks to fully cure. How much time should I wait before putting the sealed hardboard back under the mattress?
- Bill
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On 8/10/2017 2:33 PM, William Ahern wrote:

Shellac. Dries in minutes. Zinsser brand is readily available.
OTOH, I never had an odor from hardboard. Are you sure it is not from the mattress?
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<snip>

Thank you. And to -MIKE-, too. It worked great. It's been a few days since I put the hardboard back in place, and no hint of a smell. And I loved the ease of applying and cleaning up the shellac.
I used oil-based polyurethane to refinish the inside of our cupboards when we moved into our house a few years ago, but that stuff was a nightmare to clean up and not something I'd want to revisit unless I had a 52 gallon barrel of mineral spirits to store my brushes. I used water-based polyurethane to finish our dining room chairs and table (a kit from Shaker Workshop), which was much more convenient, but that's partly because I purchased a huge box of disposable foam brushes.
The shellac is just incredibly convenient. I have half a mind to try it on some other project that might see some wear & tear, like a side table. The way my kid is destroying the finish on our furniture and floors, I'm attracted to the thought of being able to easily touch things up. OTOH, I'm still a real novice at finishing. I end up have to sand away alot of mistakes. The shellac seems like it might gum up sandpaper. The oil poly did that, too, but probably it hadn't yet even fully dried--I was racing to get 3 coats on everything ASAP so my wife could setup the kitchen. Instead of sanding, is it common to use thinner to even out a damaged or poorly applied shellac surface before touching it up?

Absolutely, positively sure. It was the same smell as when I was cutting it to size in the garage--cardboard + resin. Initially I thought it was just the dust, but after vacumming and airing the room out it would always come back within a couple of days. After 6 weeks there was just no denying the persistence of the problem. (Also, latex mattresses don't usually have any smell whatsoever, not even up close. And the brand we got, sleeponlatex.com, seems one of the most reputable.)
FWIW, the boards were perforated S2S from Decorative Panels International, purchased at Lowes and supposedly manufactured in the US, according to decpanels.com. I don't think they were defective or counterfeit, but what do I know. The only time I'd ever handled hardboard before was when removing the panels on console TVs and radios when I was kid. The edges of the perforations on these panels were pretty rough, though; not like the old perforated panels I remember. Probably that was a contributory factor. American manufacturing isn't what it used to be. :(
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On 8/18/2017 2:36 PM, William Ahern wrote:

Going back 50+ years ago shellac was a very common finish for floors and furniture. The downside on tables is water can make spots and alcohol can dissolve it. There is blond and orange shellac too. You can buy it in flakes and mix it as needed. The flakes last about forever.
You can get a lot of information here https://www.shellac.net/
You can get some smoothing out using a thin mix as it will soften the coats already applied.
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On 8/18/17 1:36 PM, William Ahern wrote:

YEA!!! :-)
I don't know if it's what you used, but the Zinsser BIN shellac based primer sands very well. I've actually sanded it down to a very smooth, glossy sheen. It ended up looking like white spray paint, except no streaks or drips.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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On 8/10/17 1:33 PM, William Ahern wrote:

Zinsser BIN, shellac based paint/primer.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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