Oiling A Deck | Everything You Need To Know [Easy Guide]

Merbau timber deck, sanded and finished with Intergrain Ultradeck Natural

Merbau timber deck, sanded and finished with Intergrain Ultradeck Natural

The back deck is the location of choice when Australians get together. There’s nothing better than inviting friends and family over for an afternoon of good conversation, great food, and even better drink.

But after a while, the barrage of sunshine and foot traffic will start to take its toll on your once-glorious timber decking. And to keep it in top condition, it needs to be regularly oiled.

That’s why we decided to create this 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.

Let’s jump in!

Why do you need to oil a deck?

Timber decking is precious, and oiling it helps to protect the wood from natural weathering and foot traffic. It also keeps it beautiful!

We recommend that you oil a deck every 12 to 24 months, to keep it in great condition. We also highly recommend having it done professionally, as this will ensure that your expensive deck is properly protected.

Does my deck need to be restored?

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’d like to know more, check out our Top Five Deck Oiling Tips and Tricks.

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

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.

Our other recommendation is Sikkens’ Cetol BLX-Pro, which is non-toxic so a great option for young families.

Oil-based treatments

Oil-based treatments penetrate deeply into the wood, and darken its natural colour. They’re a little cheaper than water-based treatments, costing between $109 to $300 for a 10l can. 

Two great oil-based treatments are Sikkens’ Cetol HLSE, which is a good choice for humid climates such as Queensland’s. The other is Intergrain’s Nature’s Timber Oil, which is completely sustainable, and very long-lasting.

For more information, check out our article on The Absolute Best Decking Oil for Merbau.

The best decking oil for Spotted Gum

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.

Water-based treatment

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.

Oil-based treatments

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.

For information, check out our article on The Best Decking Oils For Spotted Gum.

How to oil a deck

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!

Preparation

If you’re oiling a brand new deck, you’ll need to chat to your deck installer about whether it needs to be weathered before being oiled. Tropical woods such as Merbau need to be weathered, whereas other types of timber might not need to be. This is a very important step, so chat to your installer and get their recommendation. Once you have a clear answer, you can proceed.

Before you start the process, make sure the weather forecast is showing warm and dry conditions for the next couple of days. If your deck gets wet or damp shortly after being oiled, you’ll need to start over.

Cleaning

  1. Remove all furniture, plants, and other items. Then vacuum or sweep with a broom.
  2. Clean your deck with a store-bought deck cleaner, being sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. Alternatively, you can use a sugar soap and warm water solution. You’ll need to use a stick-bristled brush to clean, and rinse with a hose once done.
  3. If there’s mould on the deck, try removing with bleach (but check with your timber supplier for the right type).

Sanding

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 you’ve completed your prep, you can start oiling. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Stir the oil thoroughly
  2. Apply the oil by running your brush as far along a single board as possible, without touching the other boards. Complete until the board is done, and then move onto the next.
  3. Once you’ve completed the first coat for every board, wait for the oil to dry (read the instructions on the tin to understand drying time).
  4. Once dry, apply a second coat by repeating the same process, but adding less oil to the brush. Be sure to keep a rag and some turps ready to clean any spills.

Once complete, you should oil and seal the deck every 6 to 12 months.

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For more-depth information, check out our Five Things To Do Before Oiling A New Deck article.

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