Best protection for new closets, pantry (MDF and birch)?

Mittens Cat
last year
last modified: last year

Just had custom shelves, rods, etc. installed in three bedrooms, linen cabinet and pantry. The finish is left to us. Most of the shelving is MDF, so I want to treat, coat or wrap it before we start dumping stuff on it.

Aside from one IKEA tall cabinet in the master closet, the rest is mostly Baltic birch and poplar, both of which we'd like to leave natural but wondering if that's a mistake in regard to long-term wear. A realtor friend said she'd leave the real wood alone if that's our preference, and we certainly like the idea of not having to take any more steps ($$). We are in SoCal, where closets stay pretty dry, if that matters.

Mainly I want to figure out what's best to do with the MDF shelves, as we are concerned about continued off-gassing, plus the long-term disintegration that happens with particleboard. Paint it? Coat it? Shelf paper? Our painter recommends two coats of BIN primer for starters, but one whiff of that stuff nearly knocked me out. I'm thinking maybe AFM SafeCoat sealer?

Thoughts? Thanks!

p.s. I know about MDF's dark side, so no need to remind me. At least we're in Calif., where the formaldehyde is somewhat less. We have HEPA air cleaners going 24/7 right now.


Walk in closet

Guest room (inc. small closet desk--needs artistic touch!)

Son's room (MDF shelves)

Solid wood rods

Linen closet (Baltic birch and poplar, no MDF)

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