If you are considering installing new decking or replacing existing decking, you will be aware that wood can be high in maintenance. The acidic contaminants in rainfall as well as the drying effect of the sun can quickly take a toll on wooden decking within a year. This puts you is a conundrum. Do you forgo the natural warmth or real wood for a synthetic deck? Or do you use a decking treatment to protect and preserve a real wood deck from the elements? This article looks at whether decking treatments are really eco-friendly and explores your options for installing eco-decking on your property.

The Most Expensive Treatments Last The Longest

As the Canadian government is always tweaking rules about which chemicals are allowed into decking treatments, it’s hard to shop for treatments by brand. Manufacturers can change their formulas from one year to the next to keep up the current regulations. A clear rule of thumb is that the costliest treatments will outlast all other treatments. The question remains, how good are these products for the environment?

Greener May Not Be Better

According to Environment Canada, decking treatments cannot contain more than 400 grams of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) per liter. VOCs are carcinogenic and are not good for the environment. People who are exposed to VOCs over the longer term can develop repertory illnesses. Manufactures admit that removing VOCs from their products dulls their effectiveness and shortens their lifespan. While low-VOC stains can provide long-term mildew resistance in some cases, they may not offer long-term protection against weather-related damage.

The Problem With Frequent Application

The best decking stains will offer three years of protection, even if they meet strict limits on the amount of VOC’s they contain. The problem is that after this time they must be reapplied. Poor products may even require reapplication sooner than three years. Even protective stains with ultra-low levels of VOCs such as under 100 grams per liter, still contain VOCs. Reapplying them still releases VOCs in to the atmosphere and immediate environment.

Is No-Stain Decking An Option?

Traditionalists would argue that non-wooden decking lacks the warmth of real wood. Synthetic decking offers many environmental benefits and the realism of such products has improved in recent years. It is certainly worth looking at the latest range of synthetic decking made from reclaimed plastic and wood. The plastic and wood complement each other. The plastic offers water-resistance to the wood particles while the wood protects the plastic from fading UV radiation. According to one leading firm of deck contractors in Ottawa, the best way to help the environment is to use reclaimed wood and choose decking that doesn’t need any protectant.


If you are looking for eco-decking, the choice really boils down to whether you want real wood that requires staining or synthetic decking that does not. If you choose real wood, you can minimize your environmental impact by choosing a stain that has low levels of VOCs. If you wish to eliminate your environmental impact, synthetic decking made from reclaimed materials is the way to go.