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Off Gassing and Wood Finishes

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

Ahhh....there is nothing like that "new car smell" when buying a new car. The odors are caused by the new plastics used in the production process of the interior of the vehicle. This "off gassing" is the process of the plasticizers in the plastics dissipating out while at the same time making the plastics a little less pliable as time goes by.

This same phenomenon happens with other common materials used around the house, only in this case they can do a lot damage to wood finishes. The off gassing will soften and sometimes even melt a finish, requiring it to be completely removed to repair the damage.

Here are seven items that should be used with caution:

  1. Plastic placemats are famous for this. It's ok to use them, just put them away after use. Do not leave them on a table for long periods of time.
  2. Placemats with a rubber backing. They are ok to use, just put them away after use.
  3. Felt pads that have a glue backing. Some adhesives contain chemicals that will off gas and cause the felt to stick to the surface.
  4. Paper packets of potpourri. These scented packets of dried flowers have powerful ingredients that off gas as a pleasent aroma. Always place these on plates or bowls. Be very careful with self contained air fresheners as well.
  5. Clear plastic surface protectors used under glass tops. I use nothing under glass.
  6. Plastic bubble wrap. This packing material will do a lot of damage especially if used in a situation where there is a lot of heat present.
  7. Plastic wrap used in furniture shipping and storage. Again, heat can cause this material to actually remove finish if left on for long periods of time.

Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:

French Polish Workshop , September 7, 2011

Antiques Show and Tell , September 10, 2011

Antique Restoration , September 17 & 18, 2011

Spray Finishing , September 24, 2011

Coloring Wood , September 28, 2011

Antiques Show and Tell , October 8, 2011

Finishing the Finish , October 26, 2011

Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at .

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