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From a preservation perspective wood products are less stable and therefore are less desirable materials for use in the construction of a case's display and maintenance chambers. When wood is required, it is advisable to select less hazardous wood products and isolate them with a vapor impermeable barrier. Two isolation methods are available:
- solid laminates - high pressure laminate (HPL) and plastic laminated foil (PLF), and;
- specialized sealant coatings - 100% solid epoxy resins and certain moisture-cured urethane coatings. (Caulk sealants should also be employed along any problematic seams.)
Metal framing and metal sub-structures are preferred for use in the construction of exhibit cases. From a preservation perspective the use of metal components within the display chamber avoids the potential for hazardous emissions commonly given off by wood and plastic products. Dimensional stability is gained as well. The primary conservation issue regarding metal cases is the finish and paint used. Finishes and paint systems should be conservation appropriate materials that do not outgas chemical substances; acrylic coatings and powder coatings are recommended.
Exhibit case furniture, such as display pedestals, platforms, shelves and panels used within a case's display chamber should employ materials, adhesives and finishes that are conservation appropriate. In sealed case designs, emissions from inappropriate materials can cause damage to objects. Because all of these materials reside within the object's environment it is preferable to avoid the use of wood products. Whenever possible, select metal and rigid acrylic sheet for fabrication. If textiles are used to cover furniture or case interiors, they should be conservation appropriate and attached mechanically or by safe adhesive systems. Designers should:
- carefully select all construction materials;
- apply appropriate isolation barriers to less stable materials, such as wood products.