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Safer Exterior Wood Finishes

5/13/2013 4:06:00 PM

Tags: wood finishes, natural, finishes, volatile organic compounds, Vicki Mattern

wood finishCan you suggest a nontoxic, protective wood finish for the unfinished exterior of my wood-sided home?

Several lines of wood finishes protect exterior siding, decks and fences from water and sunlight damage without the toxic solvents or heavy-metal drying agents found in many commercial wood protectors.

Architect Paula Baker-Laporte, president of EcoNest Architecture and author of Prescriptions for a Healthy House, recommends two brands: Rubio Monocoat Hybrid Wood Protector and Weather-Bos’ “The Boss.” “Both are natural oil products that don’t off-gas any more than salad dressing does,” she says. “Because they are oils, you just reapply them every few years, without doing any stripping between applications.”

These and other natural wood finishes, such as Earthpaint’s Rainforest Sealer and Eco Safety Products’ Acri-Soy, emit few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This new generation of natural wood protectors contains plant-based oils and resins — just like traditional linseed oil and tung oil do — but they’re more durable and require fewer coats per application.

Above: Natural wood finishes emit few or no volatile organic compounds.

Photo By Fotolia/bradcalkins


Vicki Mattern is a contributing editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, book editor and freelance magazine writer. She has edited or co-authored seven books on gardening, and lives and works from her home in northwestern Montana. You can find Vicki on .



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