Taking care of your deck is as important as building it. What’s the point in spending all that money on a beautiful deck if one year later it looks old and uncared for? Obviously you want it at its best for as long as possible—this is where decking oil comes in handy! So what exactly does decking oil do?
You can use decking oil for two reasons:
To protect the deck’s timber
To refresh timber’s fading colour
Decking oil’s main job is protecting the timber of your deck, ensuring its quality throughout years of use. Over time, weather, foot traffic and general wear-and-tear will all eat away at your wood, damaging it and reducing its quality. This is why you need to give serious thought as to how you’ll protect the timber. Decking oil can help keep these natural weathering processes at bay, guarding your deck against erosive elements such as water and UV radiation. This protection means your deck will keep its beautiful ‘new-look’ for much longer.
For maximum protection, you should start coating your deck with decking oil two to three months after it’s built. After this first coat, it’s a good idea to re-coat it roughly once every three months.
As well as protecting your deck, decking oil can also refresh and enhance the colour of your timber. The oil penetrates the wood, seeping into its microscopic threads and pigmenting it. This can make older, faded decks return to something like their original look, with all the richness of new timber. It works especially well with dark and grainy hardwood timbers like Merbau and Jarrah, accentuating their quality and bringing out a warm, traditional colour in them.
That being said, if you really want to change the colour of your deck, to achieve a bolder and more dramatic flair to the timber, you should think about using decking stain.
Decking oil vs stain
So decking oil vs decking stain—what’s the difference? While the oil and stain might sound and seem alike (and do share more than a few similarities) they also differ in a couple of ways.
Decking stain is less about protecting your deck and more about colouring it. It has a higher level of pigmentation than decking oil, so can be used to add more colour to your timber. Stains work especially well for lighter-coloured, softer timbers such as cypress and treated pine.
Although stains might not be as hardy as oil when it comes to defending your deck, they also should not be dismissed entirely. Stains can still offer strong protection from weathering and are particularly good at guarding your deck against damage from UV radiation.
One thing to keep in mind when using a stain: the timber of your deck might appear to lose some of its grain or texture. Of course, that’s not ideal, but it isn’t unfixable either; you can just sand the stain off or wait for it to naturally fade. Once that’s done, apply the decking oil of your preference to refresh the look of the wood.
Acrylic and water-based oils
You have two options when it comes time to choose your deck oil: acrylic-based and water-based. Acrylic-based treatments seep deep into the wood and darken it, and they tend to be cheaper than water-based oils. Meanwhile, water-based oils add a natural tint to the timber, instead of darkening it, and they tend to be a bit pricier than acrylic-based decking oil.