I think we just made a big mistake by putting hardboard paneling in a newly air-conditioned attic space. Will painting reduce offgassing?

Asked by Daniela Dornic Jones
Tallahassee, FL

The MSDS includes formaldehyde as an ingredient. It's Georgia Pacific V-groove paneling purchased at Lowe's. This stuff is primed for painting. Before installing, I read that hardboard is preferable to many other fake woods. But I didn't find the MSDS until later. Is there anything we can do to make the space safe? For now, we can keep the door closed to the rest of the house and open the attic window. Is the outside air and heat good? Is it better to keep the air vents to the room open or closed?


Reading the fine print on Georgia Pacific paneling, they are voluntarily meeting the stringent California Air Resources Boardformaldehyde requirements nationwide.

  • Also, all of their products have no added urea-formaldehyde. 
  • (Urea-formaldehyde, which is found in the adhesives used in cabinets, furniture, and flooring, is a big concern, so do look out for it in wood products as you continue to improve your home.)

However, the key to indoor air quality is ventilation. In the absence of selecting formaldehyde-free and non-VOC products, some people will allow their products time to offgas prior to installation.

Some paints seal (such as AFM Safecoat) while others breathe (YOLO) and the experts have different philosophies when it comes to sealing/breathing.

For more information:

Read William Fry's Q&A "I was told by the local lumberyard that exterior plywood now has no added formaldehyde. True? I'm in California."

Tagged In: home air quality

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