Is there a finish I can use to seal MDF surfaces on a changing table for my baby’s nursery?

Asked by Sabrina van Engelen, Aliso Viejo, CA

I recently bought a changing table for my baby's nursery. I thought it was solid wood, but once it was delivered, we noticed a strong odor and discovered that the drawer sides, back and sides of the unit are all made of medium density fiberboard. Since I'm trying really, really hard to avoid chemicals in the nursery, and I know MDF generally has loads of formaldehyde in it, I'm concerned. Is there a good sealant that I can apply to the MDF in order to keep the offgassing to a minimum?


Debbie Sek

Answered by Debbie Sek

Santa Cruz, CA

T Paul Sek Eco-Friendly Painting

July 23, 2009

A nontoxic product that will 100-percent seal harmful offgassing does not yet exist.

I do recommend Safe Seal, manufactured by AFM Safecoat, to reduce toxic offgassing.

  • It does a good job sealing the formaldehyde in MDF/particleboard surfaces.
  • It has been used successfully for this purpose for many years now to help protect chemically sensitive individuals.

In our experience, Safe Seal is very easy to apply—you can use a sponge, brush, or simply rag on. Depending on the extent of the offgassing, it may require one to three thin coats.

Make sure there's plenty of airflow to promote curing.

Tagged In: natural wood finish, formaldehyde plywood

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