The weather is changing and it’s time to get our decks ready for summer!  Decks need regular maintenance – cleaning, staining or sealing – to combat the effects of UV rays and water, and especially after such a harsh and snowy winter.

Image by wgcbear

Conventional petroleum-based sealants and stains emit the same volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in indoor paints.  These VOCs, including benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene are known carcinogens or neurotoxins and are linked to a variety of short and long-term health problems, including allergic reactions and problems for asthmatics.  The toxic chemicals are outgassed into the air and can seep into the water table.  Some of these vapors can remain active for several years.

Fortunately there are a wide variety of safer water- or bio-based formulas on the market today that are free of harmful solvents and with zero VOCs.  Red cedar oil, mineral oil, and linseed oil (flax seed oil) are some of the ingredients used.  These products are not harmful to human health and will not seep toxins into the environment or waterways.  Another bonus, low VOC sealants are comparable in price to conventional products!

Below is a list of websites carrying a line of safer deck maintenance products, though I wouldn’t be surprised if your local hardware store carries a non-toxic line as well.


When I see my dog lapping up water on the deck after it rains, I’m thankful we didn’t use a toxic sealant or deck cleaner.   This year, think about your kids and pets playing on the deck and take a safer approach to maintenance. You’ll be doing the right thing for your family’s health, the air, the water and the earth!

Information compiled from Green Living, environmental magazine,,,

3 responses to this post.

  1. This is exactly what I needed today. It’s time to re-oil or Epe deck. I’m going to forward this to my husband who takes on this task.


    • I’m glad you found my post helpful! Let me know how your deck comes out! Thanks –



    • Posted by DA Powers on June 14, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Can you use mineral oil on a cedar deck? I started experimenting on cedar deck furniture. I love the natural and ease of applying.


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