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Thread: Durban !! My headboard STINKS

  1. #1
    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Durban !! My headboard STINKS

    A strange title, I know, but I need some help here.

    Durban and coastal residents, and furniture experts may be able to enlighten me here.

    We moved from GT to KZN's South Coast 4 months ago, bringing all our furniture along.

    About 2 months ago, we detected a strange odour in the bedroom ( yes, we do shower and wash the bedding !! ). Checked everywhere for dead bugs, mice, etc, etc. Nothing.

    Started airing the room daily with windows open and fan on, but still no change - just getting worse.

    Tonight I found the cause - the headboard. !!!

    Now all the backing panels that are visible from the front, are made of good old fashioned hardboard with a oak veneer on the front side to match the oak used for the main sections of the headboard.

    But there are 3 back panels that are not visible from the front - these are of a different material. I assume used by the manufacturers to reduce costs. About 3 mm thick ( like the hardboard ) but are light brown in colour. When wiped with a damp cloth, they have a light wood colour.

    Problem is that both sides of these panels, at the back and inside the storage section of the headboard, is now coated with a very fine dark grey powder. It is extremely dry and powdery. It is blotchy in places, so I assume it is some form of fungus or mould. The floor and skirtings behind where these panels are, is also coated with this powder - about 3 mm thick.

    So what could this be ? Is the board some sort of pressed organic material (pineapples / sugar cane / etc ) that rots at the coast ? Although I can't see any "breaking down" of the panels, so the powder must be growing on the panel ?

    The powder wipes off the board with a damp cloth without leaving a stain.

    Is this powder dangerous ? I have 2 little ones running around the house.

    Can these boards be treated, or should I strip and dump, replacing with conventional hardboard ?

    We did own this very same headboard in Gauteng for about 8 years and never experienced this before, so it must be related to the coastal humidity / conditions.

    Any advice really appreciated.
    Last edited by daveob; 21-Jun-09 at 10:05 PM.
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    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    Haha.......Welcome to Durban.

    Assume the smell is musty, mouldy and dank.

    Its a mould fungus that grows down here due to the hot and humid conditions. Its usually found in dark places like your cupboards and clothes and inside of suitcases and your shoes.

    Found this article which covers most of the points you need to know.

    I dont believe its poisonous and will not hurt the kids. I am not sure though whether it has long term effects like asthma or similar. Ask you doc next time you see him/her.
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    Dave A (22-Jun-09), daveob (22-Jun-09)

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply and the great informative link, Marq.

    What I find quite strange, is that of the 6 panels at the back of the headboard, the 3 that are hardboard, don't have a single speck of this dusk, whereas the 3 'cheaper' panels are covered in the stuff. Makes me think that the cheaper ones are made of a pressed organic material, making them excellent food for the fungi ?
    Watching the ships passing by.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Great link, Marq! Very informative.

    Dave, "softer" timbers are more vulnerable to fungal attack, hence the selective targetting of the mildew.

    Otherwise the article covers the ground very well.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    OK. so the first step would be to replace the organic boards with conventional hardboard which does not seem to act like a magnet attracting the fungi.

    The article mentions a few chemicals and methods to reduce the severity of this problem. Does anyone know of a source for these chemical solutions ?

    Also, any Durbanites have any 'old housewives' tricks that work for cupboards, drawers, etc ?

    And what do you do about important documents, passports, etc ?
    Watching the ships passing by.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    The main trick is to air the cupboards and things that are likely to be 'attacked'. Either get the slated cupboard doors or open the cupboards and air regularly. Spring clean more often than you used to. Windows and doors open. This stuff will grow in places that you haven't even thought of yet. The silicone gel stuff that one can buy works a bit but you have to keep replacing and its one of things that one forgets about.

    I use the zippy plastic bags for documents and important things but generally those sort of things do not get that badly attacked if in an airy type environment. You know that the stuff is there because the paper smells but cannot really see anything.

    Take out leather stuff, jackets, shoes, handbags,briefcases etc every now and again and wipe clean - use toothbrush for the stitched parts - use a bit of water with vinegar, let it air and then put back - this is where you are going to notice it most.

    Other than that - go surfing - that is why you live in Durban is it not?
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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Thanks again Marq

    UPDATE : made a few calls this morning and ended up chatting to PG Bison ( the board manufacturers ).

    Called their Customer Support number and Lincoln was a great help. Went and did his homework and came back with the following feedback....

    Nowadays, the only product that matches my description is Supawood. However, this is a wood based product with a high resin content, which should not create the problems we experienced. And the description of the colour didn't quite add up to what he told me.

    So off he went ....

    Feedback ... until about 7 or 8 years ago, they manufactured a product called "UltraBoard" from ( as I guessed ) organic based SUGAR CANE !!!

    This stuff was made inland and carted up to JHB. However, it was apparently discontinued as they had problems with mold and mildew when it was carted back down to coastal clients.

    So if I had stayed in Jozi for the next 40 years, it would have been fine. As soon as we moved to a humid climate, the fungi started feeding off the sugar cane product.

    End result - don't bother trying to coat or seal it - just replace it with hardboard.

    Hope this helps some other poor google'r sometime in the future.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    You can tell Marq is an expert on the subject, and he is spot-on
    My first line of advice is it's essentially a ventilation problem. Good circulation definitely solves the problem 99 times out of 100.

    Interesting about the sugar cane based product. The higher sugar content probably explains why the problem is so super aggressive.
    Quote Originally Posted by daveob View Post
    Nowadays, the only product that matches my description is Supawood.
    Probably the most inappropriately named cellulose product on the market. It's anything but super. The slightest moisture problem and it's history
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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