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VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

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  • VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

    I'm planning on building a bunch of closet shelves for my home and was planning on using MDF or plywood to do it but I'm somewhat concerned about the VOCs introduced into the household by using these products? Are people generally not concerned about VOCs from using sheet goods? What are some reasonable alternatives and where can they be sourced?

    I believe there exist formaldehyde-free sheet goods nowadays but I don't know if they are common, economical, and of sufficient quality.

    I'd love to hear some input on this topic.

    Thanks!

    Charlton
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  • #2

    Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

    Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

    I'll ask the stupid question...what those VOC's stand for?

    If it's anything to do with chemicals introduced into the air from man made materials, well I've kinda given up on MOST of that as just about everything that goes into building, furnishing and using a house extrudes all sorts of chemicals. We live in a chemical society, and there's no avoiding it IMHO. Even some natural woods in woodworking do this.
    Kevin

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    • #3

      Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

      Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

      Sorry about that. VOCs == Volatile Organic Compounds. Supposedly bad for your health (carcinogenic).

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      • #4

        Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

        Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

        Charlton, There are a few companies making MDF in urea-formaldehyde resin free process. You will pay about 25% more and you may have to order it in.
        This is one I have used.
        http://www.flakeboard.com/vestaMDF.asp
        Cheers, Mark
        sigpicToday's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut, that held its ground.

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        • #5

          Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

          Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

          There are several brands of zero Formaldehyde MDF out there eg Medite but most sealers and paints will stop the 'off gassing' anyway. The other thing to bear in mind is that you are likely to have more formaldehyde coming from your carpets and underlay than you ever will from exposed MDF.

          Hope that helps
          Cheers

          Tim

          www.timbowdin.com

          'If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem'

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          • #6

            Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

            Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

            When you bite in to an apple you release formaldehyde.

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            • #7

              Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

              Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

              Originally posted by DW View Post
              When you bite in to an apple you release formaldehyde.
              and apple pips are chock full of cyanide so maybe thats how they keep the doctor away?
              Cheers

              Tim

              www.timbowdin.com

              'If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem'

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              • #8

                Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                Thanks, Mark. I'll have a look into it.

                Charlton

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                • #9

                  Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                  Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                  Thanks, Tim (nice pictures, BTW).

                  Sealing and painting was something I figured I could probably skip for closet shelving but I suppose if that really stops the VOC emissions, it might be worth doing.

                  I know there are many sources of VOCs in our houses already but why fuel the problem if there are reasonable alternatives?

                  Anyway, it seems, at least from this short thread, that VOCs aren't really much of a concern for most people. Maybe I'm worrying too much. :-o

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                  • #10

                    Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                    Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                    Were you planning on just leaving the shelves as bare MDF? You'll find that they will give off a bit of dust - probably only notoceable where clothes are concerned. You don't need to seal and paint. You just need to seal the surface in some way ie just paint or varnish etc
                    Cheers

                    Tim

                    www.timbowdin.com

                    'If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem'

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                      Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                      Originally, yes. I don't mind sealing it or painting it. It's just a bit more work, that's all.

                      Cheers,
                      Charlton

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                      • #12

                        Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                        Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                        Columbia forest products produces a formaldahyde free plywood called purebond. I've seen it at a few places. Its stamped purebond along the edges. Haven't used it yet but if I'm in the market for plywood I would definately look into it.

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                        • #13

                          Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                          Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                          I saw the Purebond at the Home Despot tonight. The veneering on several of the sheets had come apart. It runs about $67 a sheet in 3/4" so it's not too bad pricewise. I may give it a try if I decide to go with plywood instead of the MDF Mark suggested.

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                          • #14

                            Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                            Re: VOCs/Formaldehyde and sheet goods. What's the scoop?

                            Originally posted by charlton View Post
                            Thanks, Tim (nice pictures, BTW).

                            Sealing and painting was something I figured I could probably skip for closet shelving but I suppose if that really stops the VOC emissions, it might be worth doing.

                            I know there are many sources of VOCs in our houses already but why fuel the problem if there are reasonable alternatives?

                            Anyway, it seems, at least from this short thread, that VOCs aren't really much of a concern for most people. Maybe I'm worrying too much. :-o
                            If you do decide to go with the normal stuff, remember to mask-up and run good dust collection - the fine sawdust (probably chock full of formaldehyde!) that comes off your table saw or router will have you blowing green boogies for a week. The last time I worked with MDF, I remember feeling like I came down with a cold, sore throat, runny nose, etc., it turned out to be my reaction to the dust.

                            John
                            Shut up, wretched cricket of doom...

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