Can you recommend a nontoxic waterproof wood sealer for my outdoor window boxes?

Asked by Sam Beck, Brooklyn, NY

I'm building and planting my own outdoor window boxes this year, and I'm having a hard time finding a nontoxic waterproof wood sealer that won't poison my plants or the environment, and that doesn't need to be reapplied every year. Any advice?


Matthew Bremer

Answered by Matthew Bremer

New York, NY

Architecture in Formation

July 17, 2007

While you're right that you still have to search hard among conventional wood sealers to find a clear finish that's a healthy alternative, that is changing.  

There’s no need to subject yourself and others to toxic chemicals, or to poison your plants as they begin to grow. 

  • Eco Safety Products offers a series of LEED-compatible nontoxic, low-odor, low- to zero-VOC sealers, made mostly from soy.
  • AFM Naturals offers other products; and
  • SoyClean has waterproof wood sealers too.

Reviews often point out that these products are not as durable and long-lasting as traditional sealers, and that they are hard to apply and costly, but with only planter boxes to cover, rather than a deck or fence, any of these products should serve you well.


For more information:

Read our backgrounder "Selecting Healthy and Environmentally Sound Clear Wood Finishes" for detailed advice and comparisons of clear finishes.

Tagged In: natural wood finish

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.