Timber decking is tough, but it still needs protection from the harsh Queensland environment. One of the best ways to keep timber decking in top condition is with a high quality decking oil, which penetrates the wood and protects it against excess moisture, humidity, and direct sunlight.
But not all decking oil is equal. In this guide, we will look at some of the best decking oils on the market, and some of the features that you should be looking for before you choose a timber oil for your deck.
Our deck oil review
When we review decking oil, we look at grain penetration, flaking/peeling potential, and finish.
Grain penetration is the extent to which a timber oil penetrates into the wood itself. That’s important because deeper penetration means a more even finish, and better protection against moisture absorption.
Flaking or peeling potential is an indicator of oil quality, and it affects not only the protection your timber receives, but also the visual appeal—flaky decks look “scaly” and unappealing. Certain timber oils are prone to flaking or peeling, and that normally occurs when the decking is exposed to direct sunlight. Once the oil starts to lift, moisture can permeate the timber grain and cause swelling, splitting, or rot. Choosing a decking oil with good grain penetration will prevent this.
Finally, there’s finish, which is the overall appearance of a decking oil—usually it’s satin, but sometimes finishes come in matte, gloss or high-sheen. Although durability is vital, you still need your decking to look good, which is why you should choose one with a good finish. We would recommend a Satin finish, as they accentuate the natural timber look.
Intergrain deck oil
Intergrain decking oil is one of our first stops because it offers a lot of the features we have described, including a “no flake, blister, or peel” guarantee. Intergrain products suit a lot of timber types, too, including native substrates such as Jarrah, Merbau, and Spotted Gum. However, those substrates are all rich timbers with dark finishes—that’s one reason they’re popular in exterior settings, but it means that Intergrain oils might not suit lighter timber. Of course, that needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Ultradeck is the most popular Intergrain product, and it’s easy to see why. Ultradeck is a water-based product designed specifically for exterior applications in Australia’s most demanding conditions. It offers economical coverage, at 10m2 per litre, which means that you won’t have to break the bank to recoat smaller outdoor decks. However, to get the best performance out of Ultradeck you need to apply it correctly, and prepare the decking surface before you do so. If your decking has been badly weathered, you will need to sand it back until untarnished grain is exposed, before you clean away all dust and apply the first coat of timber oil. If you’re applying it to decking in good condition, you’ll only need to clean the surface before applying Ultradeck.
Sikkens decking oil
Sikkens timber oil is an alternative to Intergrain, and it focuses on highlighting the natural qualities of timber decking, rather than over-coating it. Sikkens offers both water-based and oil-based options, which means that there are suitable products for exposed and undercover exterior decking. The water-based products are popular for undercover exterior spaces, while the tough and durable oil-based options are popular for outdoor decking that bears the brunt of a midday Queensland sun.
In addition, Sikkens offers non-slip timber decking finishes, which is appropriate for decking that is exposed to rain. It’s important to remember that well-treated timber repels water and can easily become slippery if water is allowed to pool on it. That’s why a non-slip timber finish is worth considering. Applying Sikkens products is no different to applying Ultradeck oil, so there’s no extra work involved regardless of which one you choose.