Troubleshooting Conversion Varnish Off-Gassing Odor

      Formaldehyde or catalyst odor can draw customer complaints. July 26, 2010

Has anyone experienced extreme odor inside of finished cabinets after using Mohawk conversion Varnish Low 275 VOC? I may be asked to remove cabinets from a house, which I didn't get paid for yet. Any suggestions on this issue?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Just the way it is. As conversion varnish reacts it emits formaldehyde (which is why it's barred in parts of Europe as they really have a problem with formaldehyde and is why they use so much 2K urethane). After time it goes away but in an enclosure it can linger for months. Only baking can speed this process up. When I use conversion varnish inside of anything I let the part sit outside in the sun for a day (and I live in Phoenix which gets hot) to bake and off-gas. I do this with drawer boxes.

From contributor T:
Generally, the odor people complain about is either formaldehyde or excess catalyst (acid) from a product that has been over catalyzed. Formaldehyde is very obvious and has a very distinct formaldehyde odor. Excess catalyst also has a distinct rotten eggs smell (for lack of a better term). When the sealer coat has been over catalyzed (and topcoated with the correct amount of catalyst) the rotten egg smell can be hidden for up to a month or so. However, free catalyst or over catalyzed sealer will eventually migrate to the top and create an obnoxious order. If the topcoat has been over catalyzed you will have the rotten egg smell after a couple of days. The problem can be worse depending on the resin system used in the conversion varnish. CAB resins seem to be the worst.

From contributor S:
Did you use any universal tint colors in the CV? The vehicle in the colors can react with the CV and it can stink for months if not longer.

From contributor C:
I know that shellac can be use to seal in smells. I'm not sure if it will work over other finishes but I know it can be used to seal the inside of cabinets exposed to mothballs and the like.

From contributor F:
Get some box fans and run them on the offending pieces for a few days. Moving the air is your most friendly technique right now.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2017 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article