Merbau timber deck, sanded and finished with Intergrain Ultradeck Natural
A timber deck is a gorgeous outdoor feature of a house, but it requires maintenance to keep its lustrous look. If you’re oiling a deck for the first time, there are some things you must know before you start the process. The preparation for oiling your deck will be different if your deck is newly installed, or has been part of your house for years. Here are our top tips for getting it right—a comprehensive guide on oiling your timber deck. It covers everything you need to know, including why you need to oil regularly, how to know when it’s time to oil, the best decking oils on the market, and a step-by-step guide on how to apply the oil for the optimum result.
When timber is harvested from trees, its oil content starts to decrease. This happens over a period of years, and the less oil content of the timber, the weaker it will become. Decking oil penetrates deeply into a deck’s timber to replace its natural protective oils, which nourishes the timber, makes it much stronger, and protects it from weathering and foot traffic. It also brightens it up again, restoring its original colour while keeping the grain visible. Decking oil makes your deck beautiful once more.
Protecting your deck from Australia’s harsh weather is one of the biggest reasons for oiling a deck. Decking oil protects the timber from regular bouts of UV light, and creates a waterproof seal that prevents rain from getting in. This allows the timber to handle our intense climate. Timber decking is precious, and decking oil is one of the best ways to keep it healthy, strong, and beautiful.
We recommend that you oil a deck every 12 to 24 months, to keep it in good condition. But for maximum protection, you might want to consider having the process completed every 3 to 6 months. We also highly recommend having it done professionally, as this will ensure that your expensive deck is properly protected.
If you’re tossing up between a decking oil or stain, it’s important to know the difference. Decking oil is mostly about protecting the timber, whereas decking stain is more about colouring it. If you’re unhappy with the colour of your timber, and want a completely different hue, you might want to consider a stain (although this won’t give you the same level of protection).
You can determine if a deck needs to be restored by checking whether it’s still waterproofed. To identify this, pour some water onto a small area of the wood. If the water creates a bead (and doesn’t sink into the surface), your deck is still protected, and doesn’t need to be restored.
If you have had a new deck installed around your home, it may be tempting to oil the deck straight away to remove the dullness and bring it to a glistening shine. Before you get started on oiling your new deck, however, check with your timber supplier as some timbers need to weather 4 to 6 weeks prior to coating. Some may require as much as two to three months.
The reason for the weathering is that your deck is still full of tannins and oils and the exposure to sun and rain will leach these out to ensure the timber surface is ready for penetration of the oil and better adhesion of treatments. If the oil is coated on the timber too soon, the coating can be ruined. To help the leaching process, you can use a chemical solution or you can hose your timber deck every couple of days. Brisbanes Finest Floors can tell you the amount of time needed for your timber deck to weather and the correct ways to leach the tannins and oils from your deck so you can apply the oil sooner.
Once the timber deck has weathered for the right amount of time, it’s time to prepare the deck for the oiling process.
The best decking oils
When we review decking oil, we look at grain penetration, flaking/peeling potential, and finish. To get more information about our review process, check out our article: Best Decking Oil | The Ultimate List.
There are two kinds of deck oil: water based and non-water based. Many deck oils are manufactured with UV blockers to minimise sun damage, and most are resistant to fungus and mould.
Merbau and Spotted Gum are two of the most common types of timber used in decks. Here are the best oils to use for each of them.
The best decking oil for Merbau
Water-based treatments add a natural tint to the decking, instead of darkening it. They can be a bit more expensive than oil-based treatments, costing between $136 to $360 for a 10l can.
Two high-quality water-based treatments are Intergrain’s UltraDeck Timber Oil, which provides a guarantee against flaking, blistering, and peeling. This oil also works really well with Jarrah.
Spotted Gum can produce a dazzling array of colours, making it a popular choice for house decking.
Here are our two top choices for water-based and oil-based treatments.
Intergrain’s UltraDeck Timber Oil is one of the best water-based treatments for Spotted Gum. It’s recommended by many professionals, as it provides extreme protection against harsh weather and heavy foot traffic. It also dries quickly, and doesn’t smell.
As with the Merbau, one of the best oil-based treatments is Intergrain’s Nature’s Timber Oil, which creates a strong protective layer for the wood, and saturates every cell of the timber to prevent it from drying out.
Again, we strongly recommend that you hire a professional to oil your decking, as they’ll have the experience to do a great job. But if you’re determined to do it by yourself, read on!
Oiling a new deck is a fairly easy process, but it can be time consuming. Here is a checklist of how to prepare your new deck for oiling.
Preparation checklist for oiling a new deck
Ensure the deck has weathered as per the installer’s instructions.
Check the weather forecast before you decide to oil your deck. You will want dry conditions to ensure the oil penetrates the timber for an even coat.
Remove all furniture, plants, and other items. Then vacuum or sweep with a broom.
Use sugar soap and warm water to clean the dust and dirt from the timber decking. A stiff decking bristle brush is the perfect tool to clean your timber deck. Rinse with a hose and allow to dry. For a deeper clean, some flooring manufacturers will recommend an appropriate cleaning solution. The boards can be lightly scrubbed with this solution, left for 15 minutes, then rinsed off with a hose. The deeper clean will strip the old oil from the wood. Your deck may require a day or two to dry before it can be oiled.
If there is mould on the deck, use bleach (check with your timber supplier for the right type) on the whole surface to remove the mould from the timber. Use a hose to rinse off the bleach and allow the deck to dry.
Once the timber is clean and dry, it’s time to add the oil.
Choose an oil that will highlight the natural grain, colour and texture of the timber. A quality oil to consider for your deck is one that is easy to coat, repels water, resists mould and fungus and offers UV protection so the timber can’t be damaged by the sun. Decide on whether to use a brush application or pad application. For larger areas, a pole extension with a pad application may save time and your back.
Once your deck has dried, lightly sand it to make it nice and smooth, and then vacuum or sweep away the dust.
Oiling your new deck
Once your timber decking is cleaned and prepared for oiling, it’s time to apply the oil. Stir the oil thoroughly before application. Read the instructions on the tin to get an indication of the drying time and how long you have to wait between applications.
To apply the oil, run the pad or brush as far along a single board as you can, without touching any of the other boards. Do one row at a time and, once one row is done, move across the rest of the deck. For an even penetration, don’t rush the application. Use long, continuous strokes to ensure an even coat is applied to each board.
Once the first coating has been applied, wait as per the instructions on when the next coat can be applied. Less oil will need to be added the second time as the timber won’t be able to absorb as much oil. Too much oil can make the deck surface sticky and gluggy. Have a rag and some turps ready to clean any spills; the turps helps thin out the oil.
Leave the deck to dry after the second coat. It may take a day or two depending on the weather before furniture can be placed on the deck.
Once complete, you should oil and seal the deck every 6 to 12 months.
On average, decking oil takes about four hours to dry. But this differs from brand to brand, so you’ll need to check the instructions on your tin to get an accurate idea.
The term “dry” is also a little misleading when it comes to decking oil, because it can technically take a week or longer, and varies depending on the weather. What people usually mean by “dry” is how quickly you can walk on the timber, which is the definition we’ve used in our drying table below. If you haven’t purchased an oil yet, and you want to learn about the drying times for some common brands, here they are:
Drying time (how long before you can walk on it)
Sikkens Cetol Deck
Cutek Extreme CD50
Johnstone decking oil
Feast Watson Matt Look
To test if your deck is dry, place the tip of your finger on one of the boards, preferably in a tucked away corner. If the board is sticky, it needs longer to dry.
Timber can only hold so much oil, so if it’s been days and your decking oil still isn’t dry, you may have applied too much. You can fix this by wiping off the excess oil with a lint-free cloth. The timber also won’t dry if you’ve applied it over a stain, paint, or varnish, if you haven’t cleaned it well enough,
Timber deck maintenance
Once your timber deck has been oiled, you should keep a regular schedule of oiling and sealing the deck every six to twelve months to ensure the longevity of the deck and keep it looking its best all year round. Deck maintenance is an important part of the general upkeep of your deck.
Old deck restorations
If your timber deck has never been maintained and it’s been severely weathered, it can still be restored to its original glory. You may consider using a professional service like Brisbanes Finest Floors to reinstate the timber deck to how it would have looked when first installed – or even to a new, character-filled beautiful version of a timber deck look. It may be tempting to pull up your old deck, but an expert can recommend a plan to repair or restore your deck.
If you have a timber deck that needs to be brought back to life, contact the team at Brisbanes Finest Floors. Their years of experience and expertise can offer you an affordable solution to restore your timber deck so you can use it as another area for the family to enjoy and entertain.
If you’re oiling a deck for the first time, or you’re time poor and need someone else to oil your deck, contact the expert team at Brisbanes Finest Floors on 0411 220 488 to discuss all your decking needs!