How to apply decking oils, stains and treatments?
In Part 2 of our Complete Decking Guide we covered some of the common problems that affect decked areas and gave some handy tips and remedies to help you get it right. In part three, the final part of our decking guide, we look at how to apply decking oils as well as giving more top tips about how to protect decking so it looks fantastic for years to come.
The application techniques we’re going to discuss cover oil-based decking finishes as in our opinion these are much easier to maintain and patch repair. As such this decking maintenance advice is suitable for:
- new wood
- preserved new wood
- wood which only has oil on it
Once your decking is clean, dust-free and physically sound, with any damage mended, you can apply a clear or coloured decking oil.
Oils are easy to apply with no special skill required. It’s simply a case of making sure the oil is ‘pushed’ into the wood rather than leaving it on the surface.
If your decking is smooth, a long-handled microfibre roller is ideal as it works really well with decking oils. If your decking is grooved, you can attach a floor brush head to a wooden handle – the firm texture will help you push the oil into the wood much more effectively.
How many coats of decking oil do I need?
Because it’s the oil content that protects decking against water, sun damage and more, you need to get as much of the product into the wood as possible. It’s important to apply the oil in thin coats because thicker coats can’t penetrate the wood as easily and take ages to dry. It’s much quicker and more effective to apply three thin coats than two thick ones.
There’s no need to use a lot of elbow grease. Just move the oil around the wood and apply a little pressure until it has virtually all sunken into the grain. A well applied coat of oil will comfortably dry in a day.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes – if the wood is already naturally oily such as Teak, Ipe or other exotic hardwood. In which case it might not take in any more oil or might just accept one thin coat. If your wood is already saturated with oil you’ll know because you won’t be able to get it to absorb any more. In which case you can simply wipe the excess off.
What happens if I use too much deck oil?
Sometimes people apply as much oil as they can in the hope that the more they get on the wood the better. All this does, though, is leave deposits of oil on the surface that can take a very long time to dry, often more than forty eight hours. In the worst cases the oil can’t evaporate or sink into the wood and it forms a skin on the surface which can ultimately peel off.
Top tips for decking maintenance with oils
We highly recommend a quality deck oil like Barrettine Decking Oil, also known as The Complete Decking Treatment. It contains rich resins and waxes and we invariably get excellent feedback about it.
- Get an idea of how much oil is still in your decking first – if you can’t tell, test a small area with a thin coat of decking oil. If it doesn’t sink in, your wood probably isn’t ready for extra oil yet
- Try to avoid sealer-type decking finishes. In our opinion, they’re not as good as decking oils
- Always apply the oil thinly
- Bear in mind that thin coats enhance the grain structure best
- As a general rule the darker a finish, the better the UV protection
- Sweep decking regularly – keeping it clean means it stays in better condition for longer
- Attend to any visible problems like greying, blackening and dryness promptly and they’ll cause less damage
How often do I need to oil my decking?
You can play it by ear. Less oily woods tend to need more frequent treatment than oilier woods. Keep a supply of your favourite decking oil handy and test a small patch somewhere unobtrusive every spring. If the oil refuses to sink in or takes ages to dry, you can leave it until it gets ‘hungry’ for more oil. If so, test it again at the end of the summer, just in case it needs to be fed more oil to protect it over the winter.
Colouring your decking
Black finishes on decking are becoming increasingly popular. It’s no surprise when the deep, rich colour complements the vivid greens of plants so beautifully. How do you dye your decking black? The easiest way to achieve the look is a black timber stain. The same goes for other colours. Osmo, for example, feature a vast range of lovely wood colours in oil tint form, from cool, subtle amber to rich gold, bright silver and dramatic white.
Once you’ve achieved the colour you want, whether it’s black or something else altogether, simply apply two to three coats of good quality clear decking oil on top.
Can I buy non-slip decking oil?
Yes. If you’re concerned about slipping over, Osmo decking oil comes in a special anti-slip variant.
What’s next? Simply enjoy your garden decking!
When your decking has been cleaned, treated and restored, it’ll look beautiful, a real asset to your garden. Now all you need to do is magic up some sunshine, add friends or family, good company, food and drinks and you’re off. Here’s to a glorious summer!
If you have any questions about garden decking maintenance, we’re always delighted to help – just give our resident experts a call.