Hey Mr. Green,
I would like to protect my outdoor wood furniture, but I don't want to use a toxic finish. I'm also wondering what to use for a deck sealer. Any ideas? --Augusta in El Sobrante, California
I wish I'd considered this question before my outdoor tables and chairs began to list and collapse when termites invaded them. For furniture made of softwood, green-building experts recommend a low-toxicity antifungal (and anti-termite) borate salt such as disodium octaborate tetrahydrate, which is sold under the brand name Timbor. Since DOT is water soluble, cover it with a low-toxicity water repellent to protect against mildew. You can whip one up by mixing an ounce of paraffin wax into three cups of exterior varnish and adding enough mineral spirits (a healthier substitute for paint thinner or turpentine) to make a gallon. Reapply every six months to one year. For hardwoods, try products such as Sunwax, an outdoor-furniture wax with a UV sunscreen and orange oil.