A couple days ago, I purchased a "Gerton" Desktop from IKEA. On their webpage, it says nothing in terms of it being finished/unfinished, merely that you should wipe it down with oil. As I drove it back home, I noticed it had a strong smell that gave me a headache. This furthered my assumption it was finished. However, Googling it for the smell and how to get rid of it, all the posts are about finishing it, either using the IKEA recommended oil or some other type of finish. But I don't understand why the IKEA desktop would smell so strongly if it was not finished, as it should just be raw wood. IKEA doesn't have a live chat, PERIOD, and their phone merely gives a robo-message about COVID and no chat agents. Is the wood raw, or is it finished?

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Unfortunately, smells and decorating choices are off-topic here. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know you'll know the details of contributing here. Aug 13 '20 at 0:16
  • maybe you purchased an item that was returned by another customer
    – jsotola
    Aug 13 '20 at 0:37
  • is the tabletop solid wood? ... maybe it is a composite of some type and you are smelling the binder
    – jsotola
    Aug 13 '20 at 0:39
  • All the Ikea stuff I've purchased has manufacture location/date info stamped on it somewhere discrete. Take a look at that - since they're out of so many things because of this COVID craziness, maybe you got something that was made in the last week or less and you're smelling the glues used to hold the whole thing together. Fresh particle board will reek for several days or more as the glue out-gasses. Does Ikea even sell anything that's made out of actual, solid wood, not some sort of reassembled wood bits?
    – FreeMan
    Aug 13 '20 at 12:13
  • @jsotola it looks like blockboard, so small amount of glue rather than lots of binder. And beech, which doesn't have a strong smell (I looked because I wondered if it was just very fresh and unfamiliar pine/spruce/etc.). They used to do the same sort of stuff in longer pieces, which I've got as worktop in my campervan, and as my workbench. That had been factory-oiled, not finished, but treatment had been started.
    – Chris H
    Aug 13 '20 at 15:51

Back in 2016, I bought a Gerton table top and did not notice any smell. I bought another one last month (June 2021) to provide a desk for my daughter and, indeed, it has a very strong smell that triggers allergies and migraine with her. May be because, this time, it came wrapped tightly in a plastic bag within the cardboard box, so that it could not off-gas until unwrapped? I think the smell is from the glue used in assembling that butcher block. As a remedy, we try coating it with polyurethane, hoping that it would seal in the formaldehyde smell, but my daughter is still allergic. So... we'll have to be patient and wait until it finally off-gas on it own. Hopefully, it will not take more than another month.

  • For your daughter's health, I hope it eventually out-gasses sufficiently. But from experience talking with friends, I can tell you that when people are having a reaction to a chemical, they will still usually have some reaction even when the chemical is reduced. I had a friend give his new home 3 months for the cabinets to out-gas sufficiently, but even after 3 months of having all the windows open and multiple fans running, he had to move out of his new home due to his continued reaction to the chemicals. Jul 21 at 8:30

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