My father is making a sleepout for my son. As he will be sleeping in this enclosed space for hours at a time every night, do we need to worry about formaldehyde in the building materials (plywood, MDF)? What can be done to mitigate off gassing?
Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your question about mitigating the smell of formaldehyde in your sleepout project.
I recommend using Dulux 1L PRECISION Stain, Smoke & Odour Blocker to seal the plywood. Put at least a minimum of two coats and make sure to prime all the exposed ends as this is where most of the off-gassing occurs. I recommend using Dulux 1L Exterior Paint Weathershield Low Sheen Vivid White for the outside and Dulux 1L Interior Paint Wash&Wear Low Sheen Vivid White for the inside of the sleepout.
If the plywood is still fresh and has a very strong smell, I suggest leaving it out in the sun for few days, the hotter the day the better. Please make sure that the paint is totally dry and all the smells have left the sleepout. Make sure the sleepout has large windows for ventilation. I suggest having a small fan inside the sleepout to keep the air flowing.
However, If you're still worried about your child being exposed to formaldehyde I recommend considering building the sleep out of other materials such as timber pallets, pine panels, or building a timber frame and cladding the inside with plasterboard.
If you need more advice or information, please let us know.
As far as I'm aware, formaldehyde levels in processed timber products aren't as bad as they used to be in the 80's or even the 2000's.
That is not to say that the advice given to you by EricL doesn't mean anything.
Certainly a good sealer coat on the top of any flooring, especially if it is MDF, although I don't know why you would lay a floor in MDF,
when you have things like plywood.
What sort of heating are you looking at having in the sleep-out?, that might seem like a stupid question, I don't know what part of the
country you're from or if you even need heating, the reason I ask that is when the room temperature is elevated, you can end up with
leaching of the chemicals from the timber floor.
Just something to think about.
MDF- formaldehyde etc and the leakage of such under certain condition :- I have the same concerns as @MikeTNZ has with the leaching of chemicals as specially in confined space. I would go with the ply and more inclined to use formply. I am also under the impression regardless of what sealers used the chemicals still leach out under certain condition. Yes the MDF is cheaper. I have just completed a quick check of the net and it seems the problem still exists.