Decking Oil or Stain, Which is Best?


Here at Wood Finishes Direct we’re often asked, “ decking oil or stain, which is best?” This can sometimes be a tricky question to answer. Why? Because decking stains and oils can sometimes be the same thing and sometimes very different. Confused? Let’s explore this further.

Decking Oil or Stain – Which is Best?

What are these differences, we hear you ask…?

Although both decking stains and oils come in a wide range of natural wood tones and colours, only decking oils offer ‘clear’ or ‘natural’ versions. Clear decking oil products do however tend to enhance the natural colour and character of decking boards meaning that some colour change is still likely. If it’s a clear finish you’re looking for it’s decking oil all the way.

So what’s the confusion with decking stains?

A wood stain or decking stain can be defined as any product that uses a colour pigment to change the natural colour and appearance of the wood. As far as decking products go, this can mean a coloured decking oil or one of the alternative coating type products that leave a plastic or varnish like film over the surface of the wood. To better explain the differences between these products and to help you make an informed choice, read on to find out the pros and cons of each.

Decking Oil

Decking Oils are widely available in both clear (natural) and coloured formulations. Designed to penetrate in to the surface grain of the timber, decking oils protect wooden decking from within. The high concentrations of oil and wax make decking boards highly resistant to water and dirt ingress whilst providing a highly durable and easily maintained finish.

10 Benefits of Decking Oils

  1. Excellent coverage usually in the range of 8 to 12 square meters per Ltr. Some decking oils can cover up to 24 square meters per Ltr
  2. Rainproof and ready to use for light foot traffic in around 4 to 8 hours depending on the decking oil brand and product used
  3. Many contain UV filters to slow down the effects of UV damage to the timber. As a guide, darker coloured decking oils provide better UV protection than lighter coloured or clear decking oils
  4. They help to replenish the natural oils of the timber to keep the wood nourished and supple
  5. Oils work from within to help prevent cracking, splitting and warping of the decking boards
  6. Decking oils are easy to apply, clean and maintain. No need to strip back to bare wood before applying a replenishing or maintenance top coat
  7. It’s easy to carry out localised patch repairs to worn areas in high traffic environments
  8. Decking oils will not crack, peel, flake or blister from the surface of the wood
  9. They help to protect decked areas from mould and algae when well maintained
  10. Decking oils tend to be less slippery than stains as they don’t cover the wood with a plastic-like film, meaning that the naturally uneven texture of the timber provides better grip potential

Potential Decking Oil Issues

  • Not all decking oils may be suitable for exotic hardwood decking such as Iroko, Balau, Massaranduba, Teak and Cumaru because of their oily character and dense grain. Highly refined or extra thin decking oils may be required
  • Cannot be over-coated with a decking stain or decking paint unless the decking has been completely and thoroughly stripped or allowed to weather for several years
  • The final colour of the oil can be influenced by the colour of the decking timber. This means that the final finish of the decking may not match the colour shown on the tin

It is worth mentioning that water-based decking oils and solvent-based decking oils are not compatible and cannot be used over each other. Always read the labelling on the tin before starting any project. Another way to check which is which is to read the brush cleaning instructions on the tin. If it says to use water to clean brushes, it’s water-based. If it says to use white spirit, it’s solvent-based.

Decking Stains

Decking stains tend to be varnish like products that coat the surface of the deck. Often available in a wide range of attractive wood shades, decking stains effectively seal the timber from the elements. It’s worth remembering that coloured decking oils are also often labelled as a ‘decking stain’.

For an in-depth guide on how to stain decking, check out our other article How To Stain Decking For A Flawless Finish.

7 Decking Stain Benefits

  1. Surface coating decking stains seal the deck with a plastic-like film or layer. This seals the surface with a highly durable layer that protects decking timbers from weathering and foot traffic
  2. The colour pigments in decking stains help to reduce the amount of UV exposure the wood receives, therefore helping to protect the timber from the greying effects of the suns UV rays
  3. Decking stains work well and looks great on decking accessories such as hand rails and spindles
  4. Stains provide good coverage and depth of colour
  5. Many decking stains are quick drying and are shower proof and ready to walk on in just a couple of hours
  6. Decking stains make it difficult for mould and algae to form on the surface of the deck

Potential Decking Stain Issues

  • Can reduce the visibility of the wood grain due to the pigmented film between the timber and the surface
  • Can potentially start to crack, peel and flake if the seal is compromised and moisture gets under the stain
  • Must be fully removed if re-coating with a different stain or if the decking stain has started to break down and degrade
  • Can be difficult to strip from grooved decking if applying a different decking treatment
  • Cannot easily be applied to a decking that has been previously oiled. Any oil that remains in the decking may repel or prevent adhesion of the decking stain
  • Can be problematic on new, naturally oily, dark exotic hardwood decking such as Iroko, Balau, Massaranduba, Teak and Cumaru. These timbers should be allowed to weather naturally for around 3 to 6 months to allow the surface grain to open and for some of the natural oils to dissipate

Please Note: Not all decking stains are compatible with each other. Always check with the manufacturer before applying any decking treatment over another.

Recommended Decking Oil and Stain Products

Unsure of which decking oil or decking stain to use? Here are some of our top recommendations. All of these products deliver great results and will ensure that decked areas will stay protected and looking great for longer.

3 of the Best Selling Decking Oils

Manns Premier UV Decking Oil: A multi-purpose exterior oil treatment. Excellent water-beading properties and weather protection. Reduces the risk of timber cracking, splitting and warping. Suitable for both softwood and hardwood decking, sheds, fences & pergolas. Unique UV formula keeps wood looking good for longer and resists the greying effects of the sun. Can be used on all pre-treated, pressure treated and preservative impregnated timber.

Sadolin Decking Oil: Is a high quality, solvent-based, clear decking oil for all softwood and hardwood decking. It Nourishes and enhances the natural beauty of decking boards and protects from UV damage with UV filters. It is resistant to mould and algal growth and offers excellent weather protection and water resistance.

Osmo Decking Oil: Osmo Decking Oil protects, maintains and beautifies the wood surface, producing a smooth satin finish which is extremely resistant to water and dirt. The microporous finishes are based on natural vegetable oils and allow the wood to breathe and helps regulate the moisture content, reducing swelling and shrinkage. The finish will not crack, flake, peel or blister. This product offers excellent coverage and is especially suitable for dense, exotic hardwood decking.

2 of the Best Selling Decking Stains

Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain: Uses advanced technology to penetrate deeper into the wood for increased adhesion and hardness, to provide up to double the foot traffic protection and weather resistance versus the standard Ronseal Decking Stain formulation (based on Ronseal’s weathering data).

Ronseal Decking Stain: A pigmented / coloured deck stain. Suitable for a wide range of soft and hardwood decking. Hard-wearing and weather resistant. Available in a range of attractive natural colours. Quick and easy to apply. Suitable for high foot traffic areas. Dries to a semi-translucent, matt finish. Contains UV filters to reduce greying.

Top Tips for applying decking oils and stains

  • Always, stir the contents of the tin thoroughly, at least for a couple of minutes before applying. This ensures that colour pigments and other important ingredients of the product are well distributed and not concentrated at the bottom of the tin.
  • Always do a test patch and allow the decking oil or stain to fully dry before starting any project. This provides an opportunity for you to see how the product will look when dry. Does it meet your expectations?
  • Only apply in double figure temperatures and when the weather is set to be dry for at least the minimum drying time displayed on the tin. Single figure temperatures, damp or wet conditions could adversely affect the application and final finish of the product
  • Look out for special and end of season offers. Decking oils and decking stains can be had at a discount towards the end of the summer season, meaning that you can stock up for the next year and make a saving in the process

Need help with your decking finish?

Unsure about which decking product to use on your garden decking?

For more information about decking oils and decking stains, contact our team of resident experts who are always on hand to help with project advice and product recommendations. Alternatively, check out our Decking Treatment FAQ’s Page that answers many of the commonly asked decking related questions.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project. If you would like to share your decking project pictures with us, you can either send us some photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Other great decking related blog posts

Here are some of our other top ‘decking’ related blog posts that cover all aspects of cleaning, maintenance and some of the more common issues with decking finishes.




    • Hi Shirley,

      This would be dependent on what product you are using, the information can often be found on the product page.


  2. I am having a hardwood (jatoba – Brazilian cherry) deck built next week. The hardwood has a beautiful cherry coloring, and I would like to preserve the color as long as possible. What product do you recommend? Can new jatoba wood take decking oil, or do I need to wait and weather it first? I don’t want the deck to go grey just because I have another deck on the property, built about 15 years ago, that is stained brown. These two decks will sit in proximity to one another and I would like them to so somewhat similar visually. But I don’t want to stain the new deck, just to preserve the hardwood’s beautiful appearance. Many thanks.

    • Good morning Maria,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your question. It is a common question asked for beautiful tropical hard woods such as Ipe, Balua and Iroko. Jatoba is a less common one, however if it is anything like the others it will require a period of weathering. Tropical hardwoods tend to have a naturally high oil content when they are relatively new, these oils will prevent the uptake or adhesion of any product that you try to apply. So a weathering period to allow these oils to naturally disperse is the recommendation.

      This period is often around 10 – 12 weeks and can allow the wood to start to silver some, it depends very much on the time of year and level of exposure to the wood. You may find that it this time of year you may get away with minimal fading as we go through the winter. And the wood may then be ready for application come the Spring.

      If you do find there is any fading of the wood, then you could look at using a reviver product such as the Osmo Wood Reviver Gel this can restore the natural tones of the wood.

      You will need the wood to be dry before any treatment can be considered and then a test area to check for uptake, it may be that the wood is still not ready to take on any product. For a natural look and feel I would recommend the Osmo Decking Oil the 007 clear is ideal for hardwoods as it is a little thinner, and the coloured options are also possibilities, although pigments can start to have an impact on uptake and so test areas to ensure they soak well into the wood are advised and there are samples for this purpose. The clear decking oil is the most recommended for this type of wood, however it does not have UV filters and will allow the wood to silver naturally, a coloured option will help to prevent this, even the lightest of colours will filter UV and slow down the silvering.

      Its a bit of a battle to maintain the natural colour of these types of woods I am afraid, they will just naturally silver and for many people this is the desired result. It is a balancing act to get the best for the wood, protection or colour.

      I hope that goes some way to helping with your project and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page and we can offer further advice, if required.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  3. My grooved decking has been neglected for a few years and, although sound, has turned grey all over. I don’t know what the previous owner used, so what would you recommend to clean it and then get rid of the grey? I would like to be able to re-treat it when necessary with the minimum of preparation.

    • Good Afternoon Bill,

      This is a situation many people find themselves in when you purchase a property. A thorough clean is the first place to start, sweep, wash, pressure wash, sweep again and allow to dry. Getting all debris and dirt off the wood. It is likely you will be left with a light grey, faded wood and you can then look at trying a Reviver such as the Barrettine Wood Reviver this can restore the natural colour of wood that has been sun damaged. I would recommend a test area first and it may be that two treatments are needed, it will really depend on the current condition. And if there is still any previous product on the wood after your through clean and pressure wash, this may also prevent the gel from working.

      Once you have the wood clean and where you want it too be, it is vital that you allow it to fully dry, this could take a few days or even weeks. Once dry you can look at application of an oil. Barrettine Decking Oil is a good option to consider, this soaks into the decking and gives not only a natural look and feel, as well as really good protection too. To avoid further fading of the wood from UV damage, the application of a colour, even a very light one, will benefit the wood.

      The benefits that come with using a decking oil are the ease of maintenance, a simple top up coats to a clean dry surface can be an annual part of preparing the garden after winter for the year ahead. With regular sweeping and cleaning throughout the year the oil will be great for repelling moisture. And I would recommend taking a look at all of our other Decking related blogs for some very helpful tips on how to care for your decking.

      And of course if you have any further questions for us, please do not hesitate to get in touch via or contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  4. Hi, What a great site ! I’ve just built a large deck area using new, untreated softwood scaffolding boards and am now looking at the best way to preserve these and maintain the natural look… do I put preservative on before deck oil ? Or is it straight on with deck oil ?? Any advice much appreciated !

    • Good morning Jeremy,

      Its worth going that extra mile with your decking and putting a preserver on first followed by a couple of coats of the Decking Oil. Decking is the most exposed area garden and the hardest area to protect and keep looking good. However with some extra care you can protect it all year round.

      The preserver will help to reduce mould, algae and decay in and around the surface of the wood. Make sure the wood is cleaned and dried before application. And then a Decking Oil will repel moisture and can help to reduce UV damage over time.

      And then once treated I would recommend regular sweeping and the occasional clean, much like our interior floors decking needs some TLC through out the year. Sweeping will help to avoid decaying foliage and insects, that will break down the oil. Cleaning can wash away any algae that starts to develop, as this is what makes your decking slippery when it gets wet.

      And if you have furniture or plant pots on the decking, moving these around regularly will help to avoid varying aging of the decking that over time can create a patchwork effect.

      I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  5. Could you recommend a decking oil or stain which is very light in colour but doesn’t have an orange/yellow tinge to it. We’re trying to match our decking, handrail and decking panels to new composite fascia and steps which are ‘Himalayan Cedar’ colour. Previously used Cuprinol ‘natural’ but it is too dark and orangey. I appreciate it depends a lot on the wood colour to begin with aswell.

    • Good Afternoon Gail,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your question. Colour matching can be difficult, especially for exterior projects where the colour options are slightly more limited. There is nearly always a way to get close however, and I would recommend taking a look at the Osmo Decking Oil with in this range there is a clear option and a range of colours and if there is not anything close to what you need, there is the option of creating a new colour, you would do this by getting the clear oil, 007, and a sample of one of the coloured oils and adding the colour to the clear.

      It would need a little bit of experimentation first to get the right result, it may be that you only require a very small amount of the coloured oil added to the clear, it is vital to thoroughly mix them together. So small ratio measures first and tests on your wood, until you get the desired result and then you are able to mix up a larger quantity in the same ratio to complete the project. This will help you to control the colour a bit more for getting the lighter result.

      I hope that helps and if you have any questions.

      Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  6. Hi can you offer any advice on this question I have decking on my patio I would like it to be grey as this is a well trodden area to the garden for both us and the dog needs to be hard wearing colours wise and usable asap any help would be appreciated

    • Good Afternoon James,

      Thank you for your question. Decking needs to be able to take a real battering, nearly all year round, it is exposed to all the elements 365 days of the year, as well as foot traffic, pets, plant pots and furniture. So my first bit of advice will be to make sure you have a regular cleaning routine. Like our interior floors, the exterior needs the occasional sweep, clean and maintenance, to ensure a long lasting protection that also looks good. is s great option for regular care.

      As you have a dog I would recommend considering an oiled finish, this will be far easier to maintain over time, oils soak into the wood surface and so is less likely to be effected by claw marks, and even if it is, you can simply patch repair and the oil will blend well. Oils are also easy to maintain as they wear, simply ensure the surface is clean and dry and then you are able to apply a top up coat when needed, usually around 1 or 2 years down the line, depending on use.

      I would have to recommend if possible, avoiding allowing your dog to use the decking as his own personal toilet facility, this will very quickly damage the finish, however if the occasion mistake happens just rinse it down to wash away and the mess and this finish should be fine.

      For a grey finish, and there are not many on the market at this time I would recommend the Osmo Decking Oil which comes in a Grey colour 019. It requires application to bare wood and two very thin coats applied only. I would absolutely recommend the sample tin for test areas to ensure you like the result that will be achieved. It allows you to still see the grain of the wood.

      if you take a look at these products and do feel free to get back in touch or for more help and advice please ask via our contact us page.

      kind regards Samantha.

  7. I stumbled upon your informative article so thank you but I do have a query that I hope you can help with.

    We have a lovely fully silvered deck around our cabin and in front of it there is an expanse of old stone paving stone. The deck and the paving when dry at least are the same beautiful silver colour.

    What’s the best way to preserve and protect the deck while also preserving the silver stone like colour that it has developed?

    Many thanks


    • Hi Steve,

      Thank you for getting in touch. I can make some recommendations for a protective product, however anything you apply may darken the wood slightly, much like water does. Over time this could fade down although you may not be able to fully maintain that silvered appearance.

      As a standard I recommend a preserver followed by a protective oil for decking, this protects against mould and decay, as well as moisture ingress and further UV damage. To apply both products will very much darken you wood however and so as an alternative you could look at the Barrettine Premier Wood Preserver this is a preserver that contains wax and so for a period of time will also repel moisture, it is not quite as good as the application of an oil, however it can be topped up when you feel the wood needs it.

      If you have a look at these options and do feel free to get back in touch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  8. Can you suggest a decking oil suitable for what I’ve seen described as ‘exotic hardwoods’?
    We had this decking installed about 11 years ago but the invoice simply calls it ‘Hardwood’; I believe it may be Balau or Bangkirai and over the years we have used several different decking oils including Barrettine, Liberon and Osmo (the latter from yourselves).
    The wood (which all faces due South) is now almost black across much of its surface, possible solution to this being heavy sanding followed by a clear oil. Any thoughts will be most welcome.

    • If the current finish is looking tired and has darkened somewhat over time, then taking back to bare wood is going to be the best option. This will help you to get a better level of fresh protection and over all appearance.

      Removing existing decking oils is not easy although if you have a smooth surface decking you can sand back, smooth decking has this benefit over grooved. You could certainly try the pressure washer first however, as this can remove much of the oil and clean the wood thoroughly for fresh application. Take care not to hold the nozzle too close to the wood as it will cause splintering.

      Sanding back a tropical hardwood will restore much of the original appearance and bring natural oils to the surface again, and so may require a period of weathering , although a good scrub with Methylated Spirits will speed this up.

      And then the best product for hardwoods such as this is definitely the Osmo Decking Oils Osmo Decking Oil the clear 007 is thinner and penetrates well into hardwoods although offers little in the way of UV protection.

      Regular sweeping and a few cleans a year with a decking cleaner will help to prolong the life of the treatment and in turn the wood, and help to prevent discolouration.

      I hope that helps and do please get back in touch if you have any questions.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  9. Hello

    I have just had decking laid and I wanted a dark finish It so I have used Cuprinol Hampshire oak decking satin, on the tin it gives the impression that this will leave a dark finish but this is not the case it’s still very light, what do you advise is best to get the dark brown finish I am after, many thanks

    • Good morning,

      A second or third coat will darken the colour further. Often on new woods colours can be slightly lighter than expected, this is because the wood type, age and condition will all impact on the end result. And because of this we always recommend full test areas first, this help to ensure you like the finish before full application. Its easier to remove a test area than it is to strip the full decking.

      Its is always better to stick with the same product once it is applied and Hampshire Oak is the darkest with in that Cuprinol range, except the Black. Other stain may have some slightly darker options, however many will require all previous products to be removed first.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  10. I had a hardwood decking laid at our holiday home in southern Italy 2 years ago and allowed it to naturally silver. I now want to give it a bit of colour, a sort of light oak, so want a UV decking oil that can be applied easily and want to avoid applying any ‘revivers’. Applying straight onto greyed hardwood after pressure washing, what sort of colour can I expect?

    • Good Afternoon Robin,

      You are able to apply decking oils to silvered wood, however you need to bear in mind that the colour and condition of the wood will impact on the colour that will be achieved, application to silvered wood will dull down the colour some what and the drier and more aged the wood is the more of the oil, and in turn the pigment, that will be absorbed. Resulting an a darker and duller tone of colour.

      I would recommend some test areas first to check out colour results and over all uptake of the oil, and ensure you like the result that will be achieved.

      kind regards Samantha.

  11. Hi
    I am just finishing a 10SQM deck project (DIY). I would actually like the pressure-treated softwood decking boards to go greyer i.e. to achieve over time a natural weathered look. The deck is in the middle of the garden and surrounded by grey natural stone walls and that seems to fit.
    But I would also like it to last as long as possible.
    Can you suggest the best approach for this situation?

    • Hi David,

      Using a clear decking oil will help to protect the decking from weathering, general wear and tear and dirt. Not all clear decking oils provide UV protection and even those that do have a limited ability to do so. As a general rule, the darker a product is the more UV protection it provides. This is due to the colour pigments in the product partially blocking the sunlight from reaching the wood.

      Osmo Decking Oil is a premium decking oil but does not contain any UV filters. This will allow the decking boards to naturally grey / silver.

      If not done already, it is worth treating the wood with a clear wood preservative such as Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver prior to oiling. The preservative will protect the decking timbers from biological threats such as mould, algae, wood rot and insect attack. If possible, treat all sides of the decking including edges and especially any cut ends with both the preservative and decking oil.

      I hope this helps.

      • Thanks Nick. Most helpful.
        I’ve got a full tin of Ronseal Multipurpose Wood Treatment (which is clear and solvent-based). Is there any reason why I shouldn’t use that rather than the Barrettine product?

  12. Good Afternoon,

    Thank you for this incredibly helpful article and for your detailed responses. It’s awesome to see a business taking the time to provide customers with such helpful information.

    This has been helpful in aiding my decision on what products to use on my decking boards. However, I was wondering about the timber frame sub-structure. It’s obviously not visible and so there’s no need to add a coloured oil etc. What do you advise using on this in order to protect it to length it’s life?

    Many thanks, Chloé

    • Hi Chloe,

      If you can treat the sub structure and support posts before it is installed, it will definitely help to preserve them and will indeed lengthen the life of the support structure. As with decking boards, we recommend that all surfaces including the edges and especially the cut ends are treated with 2 coats of wood preservative. This will help to protect the wood from biological threats such as mould, algae, wood rot and insect attack. Once dry, again treat all sides, edges and ends with 2 or 3 coats of decking oil. This can be clear or coloured depending on what you have to hand. The oil will help to nourish the wood and keep it supple, this helps to prevent cracking, splitting, and warping of the timbers. It will also help to protect the supporting structure from moisture.

      I appreciate that this process will add to the overall cost of the project but the benefits in protecting the support posts and framework of your decking are well worth it.

      Kind regards,

  13. Hi,
    I have decking that is approx 12 years old. I’ve used a stain on it previously, but it has been neglected and hasn’t been treated for about 5 years. It’s weathered well under the circumstances (it’s partially covered with a port) but it is patchy. What would you recommend I do next to restore it to its former glory ( or near enough).

    • Good Afternoon Bev,

      Thank you for getting in touch, the first thing to do is give a real good clean. If you have access to a pressure washer this will help remove dirt and grime and then use the Barrettine Driveway Decking and Patio Cleaner you will be surprised how different the decking will look at this point and then you can either use a restorer if the wood has silvered, such as the Osmo Wood Reviver Gel which will begin to bring back the natural colour and condition of the wood or if you are happy with the condition move on to treatments to protect.

      Once you are at a clean, dry, bare wood point you are then able to apply a good quality preserver such as the Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver and this will help to prevent mould and rot. Followed by two coats of a decking oil. There are many brands of decking oil on the market and in terms of durability and wear there is very little difference between then. They all require a top up coat approximately a year to twelve months down the line in order to upkeep the protective properties. Coverage may vary slightly and the range of colour will certainly differ, but two thin coats will give a durable and natural protective finish that is easy to maintain, which is what you really need for Decking, as this is the most exposed are of wood in the garden.

      I hope that helps and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get back to me. And always try a test area first.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  14. I had someone chainsaw carve an eagle from a dead elm tree in my backyard. I want to protect it from the weather(from algae, mold, cracking, greying etc). I want the top of the eagle’s head to be white, the beakand feet to be yellow and the body to be a dark color. What do you recommend to seal this outside carving with?

    • Good Afternoon June,

      What a great project !! To achieve those colours you will need to look at some of the Osmo products, here at Wood Finishes Direct we nearly always recommend oils for exterior protection, they are durable and easy to apply and maintain and will not peel and flake. You could have a look at the Osmo Country Colour this is a more opaque finish with the colours that you require, but at the same time can allow the wood to look and feel fairly natural.

      A little goes a long way and it is likely that you will only need the 125ml tin of each colour to complete your project, although this is dependent on the size of the sculpture and the condition of the wood, for example if it is particularly dry the uptake of oil will be more. Test areas are vital to ensure you like the colour that will be achieved.

      If you take a look at these products and feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions via our contact us page.

      All the Best Samantha.

  15. Just come across this website, a lot of useful info hon here.

    I have always oiled my deck with two coats once a year with Ronseal Decking oil. Just given it one coat and ran out of oil. On this website I came across Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Oil, which is suppose to last longer.

    Fir the second coat, could I apply the Ultimate protection? Or should I stick to what I used for the first coat?


    • Good Afternoon Nathan,

      The Ronseal Decking Oil is a solvent based product and the Ronseal Ultimate Decking Oil is a water based, they will not be compatible and there will be adhesion problems and probably quite a patchy finish should you use one over the other.

      So my advice would be to stick with the current decking oil, or allow it to wear away for a year or more and then try the Ultimate. If the test results prove to be okay than you can move forward to use the Ultimate.

      I hope that helps and for more information or advice please feel free to get int ouch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  16. Hi
    My garapa decking is untreated and 6 years old, so it has gone grey.

    I’m considering oiling it, but I’m not sure about whether to use an anti-greying reviver beforehand.
    Would that make a difference to the appearance? Or does oiling effectively hide the grey on its own?



    • Good Afternoon Jo,

      The Oil will not restore the natural colours of the wood and if you apply a coloured oil to the silvered wood it will not look as expected. The silvered wood has also changed in composition as it has been impacted by the UV and this will in turn impact on how it takes on any product applied.

      For the best result a Osmo Wood Reviver Gel and a some elbow grease will help to restore the wood back to it original colour, sometimes it will take two treatments, particularly if the wood has been left for a number of years.

      Once restored and dry, I would recommend a wipe over with Methylated Spirits also and then a test area to ensure you like the finish that will be achieved it is ready for which ever oil you choose to protect with, a test area is always recommended first and if you have any further questions I am here to help.

      Kind regards Samantha.

      • Thanks for your answer.
        Also – let’s say I use reviver then decking oil, as you suggest; what happens in a year or so, when the oiled wood has become grey again due to UV?
        Would I need to use some kind of oil-stripper before I can use Osmo reviver again?
        (Your website says the Osmo reviver is “only suitable for bare wood or wood that has not been oiled for a number of years.”)

        • Hello Jo,

          Thank you for getting back to me. With out regular maintenance the wood will again silver over time, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure the wood maintains its colour for longer. The first and main one is to apply a coloured oil. The pigments in an oil act as a sunscreen, if you think of the decking oils in sunscreen factors a clear oil will be about a factor 10 so limited protection, needs more regular top ups.

          When you start adding a little colour, the factor increases, so a light or natural oak for example will bring you up to a 20 – 30 factor and then a dark oak, rosewood, or dark brown will bring you up to a factor 50. This is the best way to maintain the natural colour of the wood over time, but of course if you don’t want to add colour then a clear oil with UV stabalisers will require annual top up.

          Regular cleaning and sweeping of the decking will avoid damage to the treatment, any damage will reduce how effective the protection is and the silvering can occur sooner rather than later.

          If you keep up with regular maintenance there should be no need to retreat with the reviver, but if you do need to use it again in the future the oil will need to have worn away or you can use a pressure washer to remove the last of it.

          Kind regards Samantha.

  17. Hi, i am looking to finish our softwood smooth decking, we left it to weather before treating for a number of months as that was advice I read somewhere, but have left it slightly longer than we planned. It was fitted about a year ago and is starting to silver which i like a lot, but also split ever so slightly. We are going for the pale wood look offset against black framing and fence panels. I want a finish that is as invisible as possible and doesnt bring out the orangey wood colours as i have seen on some decking oils, but protects and ideally nourishes the wood. It is between the osmo clear oil (007), which im assuming will be better for the wood, or the ronseal decking protector, which seems to be the most invisible, (and is a huge amount cheaper).
    Firstly, what is the ronseal decking protector, it doesn’t seem to say whether it is an oil or what? And secondly, how much darker will the osmo make the wood, and is it overkill for softwood decking? I cant seem to find any before and after images of the osmo oil on softwood deck and seeing some of the other brand oil products has worried me with just how much they darken the wood.
    many thanks for any advice you may have.

    • Good Morning Sam,

      It can be a bit of a mind field when trying to choose the right product for your decking. I can tell you that any clear decking oil will darken the wood and highlight the natural tones of the wood, that may be yellow or orange. To get an idea of a clear oil finish you can wipe the bare wood with a damp cloth. As the wood has weathered some what the colour is likely to be some what subdued.

      The Osmo is a good option and as you know one of the top brands when it comes to wood finishes, however decking is a really tough area of wood to protect and which ever product you consider the key to protection and longevity, is good maintenance.

      The Ronseal Decking Protector is a surface sealer and one of the more basic finishes with limited protection. My recommendation will be to apply a good quality preserver first such as the Barrettine Premier Universal this will help to prevent mould and rot. Then followed with two coats of decking oil, whether the Osmo Decking Oil or the Barrettine Decking Oil. They will darken the wood somewhat and unfortunately there is not one that will not a little, the Ronseal Protector is likely to darken less however you then loose out in longevity and protective levels.

      I hope that helps a little and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  18. Hi, can you advise what would be the best type of finish to use to prevent slipping on a decking with a hot tub situated on. We have used the anti slip ones before but would prefer something that will look good and require little maintainence as the decking is in our holiday cottage, I have stripped it back to bear wood.

    • Good Afternoon Alison,

      We do have some great Anti Slip products on the website for decking that include Osmo Anti Slip Decking Oil and Barrettine Anti Slip Decking Oil

      These are good for increasing grip on the wood, but really the key to keeping decking non slip is to keep it clean of dirt and debris, particularly foliage. Allowing leaves and foliage to decay on the decking encourages algae which is often the main cause of a slippery deck.

      Both the above Anti slip decking oils must be applied over the same brand standard decking oils. to give the best protection and all details are on the product pages. If you have any questions however please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  19. Hi,
    what do I have to use first on a pine decking board?
    It is a garden project.
    Preservative or oil?
    Do I have to leave it as it is for a couple of months? It is pressure treated.

    • Hello Alex,

      My advice will be to get a preservative on the wood first, this will protect against mould, mildew and rot. A popular option is the Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver which is a clear finish.

      You can follow this with a top coat product, Barrettine Decking Oil to help give moisture repellency and UV protection. This come in a coloured or clear finish. Test areas are always recommended to ensure you like the finish that will be achieved.

      We have some great Blogs on decking that will give you all the information you need on where to start and how to maintain the deck over the years and we also have a some really helpful videos on our You Tube Channel >>> with hints and tips for preparation and application.

      I hope that helps and if you need any further advice please do not hesitate to get back to me.

      All the Best Samantha.

  20. Hi. We’ve just finished installing a spruce log cabin and your site has been really helpful for deciding on wood treatments. However, we’ve not found a direct answer to exactly what we now want to do.

    We plan to lay vinyl flooring as the cabin will be used by lots of kids. We’ll probably want to lift the vinyl in a few years when the kids are older. At that time, we’ll probably apply an oil. We almost certainly won’t want to varnish the floor.

    What would you recommend we do to the floorboards now? Should we treat them with an oil now, before laying vinyl? Or would that be a bad idea? Or is there a basic preservative that we should apply, to ensure that they don’t get damaged by damp or whatever? Or will they be fine, as long as the cabin is well enough put together?

    Thanks for your help

    • Good Morning Peter,

      My advice would be to leave the floor treatment free as you are putting vinyl down. As it is an internal area preservative are not really recommended or required. Its not wise to apply an oil and then cover it with any floor covering the wood does not require protection.

      When you remove after a period of time it is possible that you will need to sand back the surface when the the covering is removed. This will depend on the type of wood and how long it is covered for, some wood will darken over time, some won’t. There is also the question of adhesives used on the vinyl and if this will need sanding off the surface of the wood.

      Also oiled finishes although dry and ready to use after 24 – 48 hours continue to cure and get more durable for days and weeks following application. Covering will prevent the natural curing process from occurring and this is one of the reasons we do not recommend putting rugs over and oiled floor for the first month.

      I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to let me know.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  21. Hello and thank you for all good advice I keep reading here.
    I’m in need of advice myself.
    I’m in process of sanding off peeling translucent stain in gray color from pressure treated wood. I decided to sand because I wanted to start fresh with like new wood.
    Unfortunately deck is 11 years old and has some cracks sanding won’t help with that but we getting nice clean surface. I don’t want anything that could peel in the future. So possibly oiling is the way to go? Would be nice to give some warm shade to this new exposed wood and I’m interested to hear what do you think would be best option for this project? And what steps I should take to prepare the wood for application? Should I additionally washed it with some conditioner? I been reading a lot about decks and now I’m little confused what to do next for the best results. Looking for almost maintenance free deck ??
    Thank you

    • Hello Donata,

      Thank you for getting in touch, I wish I could say that there is a product out there that will give a maintenance free decking, but it does not yet exist. What I can give you is the easiest maintenance system at a very reasonable cost. And that is Decking Oil, it soaks into the surface of the wood and protects, gives a moisture resistant finish and slows down UV damage.

      It will not peel and flake over time ( unless over applied ). And the maintenance is super easy. Just sweep and clean the decking when needed and reapply a fresh coat of oil to the surface, this can be annually or bi annually, depending on exposure to the elements. And there is no need for stripping or sanding first.

      A popular choice is the Barrettine Decking Oil and it has some good natural colours in the range. There is also the Manns Premier UV Decking Oil which is a good choice to slow down the silvering process.

      The Decking will need to be totally stripped to bare wood before application as anything left on the surface will prevent penetration. And for an even better level of protection I would also recommend the Barrettine Premier Universal to be applied before the Decking Oil, this will help to prevent mould, mildew and rot and so giver a longer lasting protection.

      I hope this helps and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

      All the Best Samantha.

  22. Hello. I have inherited an oak bench from my dad.. I have rubbed it back to bare wood, and it’s so beautiful, I want to enhance it. I would like to use an oil. My question is if I oil it, will the oil transfer onto clothing when the bench is used?
    Many thanks Tess

    • Good Morning Tess,

      This will not be a problem, if you look at an oil such as the Barrettine Garden Furniture Oil this will dry hard and not come away on clothing. It will protect the wood from moisture ingress and help to prevent cracking and warping and will enhance the tone of the wood.

      I would recommend allowing the oil to cure fully for around 24 – 48 ours before putting the bench into full use and avoid over application as this will slow down drying time dramatically and can leave a tacky finish.

      I hope this help and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to let me know.

      All the Best Samantha.

  23. Hi there
    I have recently had balau decking installed. Do I need to seal it or oil it ? With all the sun we have had recently, a couple of boards have started to split.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Good Afternoon Mark,

      The heat this summer has certainly been extreme for this country, and I think many decks have been impacted by this. Applying an oil such as the Osmo Decking Oil will certainly help to nourish the wood and slow down any splitting, it will not prevent it however and sometimes splitting can be the result of not only the extreme weather but how and where the screws are placed when building and securing the decking.

      As the wood is Balau there may be a naturally high oil content already and a test area first to ensure the wood will accept further oil is strongly recommended. You could wipe down the surface of the wood with Methylated spirits first as this will encourage the wood to accept more oil. Then two thin coats are all that is required.

      I hope that helps and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  24. Hi

    I have had brand new decking installed and I want to protect it from the elements while keeping the fresh new look of decking.

    My garden is south facing and the decking can get very hot and is exposed to high uv rays.

    Also have kids.

    What would the best oil/wax based product to use to protect my decking from the elements and from staining from the kids muddy feet?

    • Good Afternoon,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. Decking Oils are ideal for easy maintenance and good protection. Two coats need to be applied to give a moisture repellent finish. Clear Oils will slightly darken the wood and enhance the natural colour of the wood but is limited in its level of UV protection and so to increase the UV filters and reduce the chance of the wood silvering you can apply a coloured decking oil, the pigments act like a filter and the darker the pigment the more the protection.

      For a clear and coloured Decking Oil you could have a look at the Barrettine Decking Oil its a popular choice. Always try a test area first.

      If you take a look and feel free to get back to me if you have any questions.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  25. Our deck is complete! We’ve just had a deck built along with our garden being fenced. I want to be sure that both rails and decking are the same colour as the fencing. Can you please advise matching deck oil and fence protection?

    • Good Afternoon Julie,

      Thank you for getting in touch and I bet your garden space looks amazing now you have a new deck and fencing. You are able to use a Decking Oil for both projects and a great option is the Barrettine Decking Oil . I would just say however that if the woods are different, and it is likely that they are, then the colour may vary, even if using the same coloured oil on both.

      Different species of wood will absorb oils at a different rate and in turn the pigment and so you will get the same tone but perhaps with a slight variance in intensity of colour. Test areas will show what colours can be achieved.

      One other thing to bare in mind is if the fence is rough sawn it will absorb far more of the product that the recommended guidelines and so give a more intense colour.

      I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get back in touch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  26. Hi,

    Thanks for your most helpful article. Do you have any recommendation for lazy people?

    We have decking on our balcony. The wood is in decent shape though somewhat faded. Main problem is dirt, mold and algae accumulating because it doesn’t get cleaned often.

    We are set up to do a big deep clean with oxygen bleach and want to apply something that is as indestructible, low maintenance and long lasting as possible. Basically hoping to get it done and forget about it for as many years as possible!


    • Hello Adrian,

      If only such products existed. Unfortunately decking will require regular maintenance in order to get a continuous protected finish for a long time to come. And we nearly always recommend decking oils such as Barrettine Decking Oil . They soak into the wood and will not peel and flake over time. And despite needing regular maintenance it is the easiest to do as there will be no need to strip and redo, you can simply apply a fresh coat of oil to the clean dry wood when you feel that it is needed.

      Test areas are always recommended to ensure you like the look to be achieved and if you use a colour then this will also increase the UV protection to the wood and slow down the silvering process.

      If you take a look and feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  27. Hi Sam

    We have new decking and are currently applying a 1st coat of decking oil. The tin states 2 Coates should be applied, but we really like the colour of the 1st coat. We have done a small tester and feel when a 2nd coat is applied to the wood then it looks too dark. Are we ok with 1 coat of oil?



    • Good Afternoon Nick,

      My apologies for the delay in getting back to you. It is likely that one coat will not offer enough protection for your decking. You do have the option of applying a clear decking over the top. It will still darken very slightly but will not change the colour.

      I would advice applying a second coat to ensure that the wood is protected against moisture as this is the biggest threat to exterior wood. For further advice please feel free to get in touch for further advice on 01303 213 838.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  28. Hi,

    My decking is looking rather old and in need of restoration. Some of the boards have gone rotten (probably through sunlight/rain and lack of treatment).

    Two questions –

    1) How can I tell what is currently on the decking (i.e, oil or stain?)
    2) What is the best product to treat the decking with. I’m not too worried about colour. I just want the wood protected so it doesn’t rot etc.

    Any thoughts/advice?

    kindest regards

    • Good Afternoon,

      An oil soaks into the surface of the wood and will wear away over time. A stain, paint or varnish is a surface sealer and over time could peel and flake, exposing bare wood underneath. Paint, stains or varnishes can be removed with a stripper such as Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover. Oils unfortunately can not and if you can’t wait for them to wear away naturally the you can use a pressure washer to remove much of it, care must be taken not to damage the wood however.

      Once back to bare wood the best protection you can give is two coats of a good quality preservative such as Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative will protects timber against wood boring insects, wood rotting fungi and blue stain.

      And then two coats of a Decking Oil such as the Barrettine Decking Oil Provides excellent water resistance – beads rain thereby stopping water ingress and has UV stabalisers to slow down the silvering process.

      If you take a look at these and feel free to get back to me if you have any questions.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  29. I have decking in my new house, it has been treated previously but I have no idea if it was with stain or oil, is there a way to tell?

    Am I right in saying either would have to be removed before applying more stain or oil? And if so how is that done?


    • Good Afternoon Mike,

      I am sorry for the delay in response, it is a super busy time here at Wood Finishes Direct. A stain or paint is a surface sealer and is likely to, over time, peel and flake, if the treatment appears to be lifting it is likely that this is the finish you have and this can be removed with a pressure washer or stripper product such as the Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover

      If the finish is an oil it should have soaked into the surface of the wood and will naturally wear away over time, it will not peel and flake unless it has been over applied.Oils can not be removed with a stripper, some lift will come from using a pressure washer, but take care not to hold the nozzle too close to the woods surface as this will damage and splinter the wood.

      My best advice for a fresh treatment will be to get the wood back to bare and use a Decking oil such as Manns UV Decking Oil its easy to apply, clean and maintain over time, will not peel and flake and can slow down the silvering effect of UV damage.

      I hope that helps and of course if you have any questions feel free to get in touch via our contact us page.

      Many Thanks Samantha.

  30. Hi there,
    I just recently installed wooden deck in my garden, I was wondering what would be the best option to prevent weathering from occurring or just any damage occurring from rain , something which allows protection but also the natural colour of the wooden deck is maintained.
    Thank you very much

    • Good Afternoon Shear,

      A really good choice for decking is Barrettine Decking Oil this is an easy to apply protective treatment that soaks into the surface of the wood. It helps to make the wood moisture repellent and will give UV protection to slow down the silvering effect. There is a clear in this range that will enhance the natural colours of the wood, or if you would like to add colour this will increase the UV protection to the wood.

      If you take a look at this product and feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  31. Hi Maureen,
    What is the most penetrating decking oil available? I have a cumaru hardwood deck which has been a real pain to keep looking good since I put it down 6 years ago. I’ve tried several products including the ludicrously expensive Owlatrol D1, and even that didn’t last 6 months before it began failing. I’ve just sanded the deck yet again and this time treated it with Barrantine Premier wood preserver (because its very thin) and it looks superb. However there is no water beading when it rains, and I suspect it won’t look good for long. I need an oil that will get into the wood like the preserver, but everything I’ve tried just forms a film on the top, which fails in patches. Any suggestions would very welcome.
    Thanks Guy

    • Good Afternoon Guy,

      The Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative is a great starting point and one that we often recommend to be applied first. It will help to prevent mould, mildew and rot and has some wax for moisture repellency. To follow that I would always recommend a Decking Oil and as you have a Hard wood decking the best option will be the Osmo Decking Oil this will give the moisture protection that you need and it is a slightly thinner oil more suited to hardwoods. It requires just two very thin coats for application.

      It does not contain UV filters however and will allow the wood to silver naturally, to have the UV filters will thicken the oil and make it less suitable for Hardwoods. Generally a Decking is likely to need maintenance annually, it is the most exposed area of wood in the garden and will be subject to wear and tear. The benefit of an oil is that it is super easy to top up by simply ensuring the surface is clean and dry and then apply a fresh coat, no need for any stripping back to bare wood.

      I hope that helps and of course if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get back to me.

      All the Best Samantha.

  32. I have just treated my decking with Ronseal decking rescue paint (charcoal).
    Would I be able to apply Ronseal ultimate decking stain of the same colour over this?

    • Good Afternoon Paul,

      The Rescue Paint is an quite a thick, opaque finish, where as the stain is a more translucent finish that needs to penetrate the surface of the wood, the Rescue paint will prevent this from happening and so I would not expect them to be compatible.

      If you have any questions or if there is anything further that they can help with please do let me know.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  33. I have a trough that has been made from decking. It is new and not been outside yet. Do I oil it straight away or leave it for a few months to let whatever the wood has been treated with wear away?

    • Hello Maureen,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. It depends what was previously on the wood and how long ago it was treated. You can do an oil test, leaving a small drop of oil on the surface of the wood for around an hour and see how it reacts. If it moves or soaks in then you are likely to be able to apply an oil if it remains unmoved then the is something on the wood that is preventing penetration.

      When the wood is ready to take an oil then you are able to use a Decking Oil such as Barrettine Decking Oil it will help to keep the wood protected from UV damage and repel moisture. It is available in a clear or coloured finish. Always try a test area first.

      And if there is anything further that I can help with please do let me know.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  34. We have just finished our brand new garden decking (60m2) yesterday , and I am now waiting for five /six months to protect it by decking oils. The information I have read above are quite good for care taking of our decking.

    I read as well that if I used Decking oils there are several colours that I can use so our decking will look colorful especially in the summer when all plants and trees all in good conditions. I am thinking of using green, yellow, blue, red, and white. We did plant boxes and benches. Please advice if any will come into your mind.

    Thank you

    • Hello Ernie,

      We do supply a wide range of decking oils and colours. Not in those bright primary colours however. The Osmo Natural Oil Woodstain is available to order Ral colours, this means that you can chose a colour form the chart on our website and have this made up in the colours that you want. It is suitable for use on decking, however care must betaken with correct application and regular maintenance.
      If you have a read up of the product and feel free to get back to me with any questions you may have.

      Kind regards Samantha.

    • Hello Jill,

      Iroko is a tropical hard would and so a slightly thinner oil is required. A good option is a good quality Teak Oil which would be ideal for both your decking and bench. A test area is always recommended.

      Have a read up on these products and feel free to come back to me if you have any questions.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  35. I have treated my decking with Ronseal ultimate decline oil. On the tin it suggest two coats, so I ordered more tins but got the ordinary decking oil ,same colour. Can I use this to give a second coat now.

    • Hello Beryl,

      Thank you for your enquiry. You can not use these two together as they are not compatible. The Ronseal Ultimate is a water bourne product and the Original Decking Oil is an oil based product and so there could be adhesion problems.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

    • Hello Matthew,

      Oils and Varnishes are not compatible except in very rare situations. So I would not advice it, the varnish is unlikely to adhere to the oils surface. If you need any further advice on your project please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      All the Best Samantha.

    • Hello Wendy,

      It would be one or the other as they are not compatible products. The Oils are designed to soak into the surface of the wood and protect. It gives a natural look and feel to the wood and is easy to apply and maintain over time, by simply re-coating when you feel the wood needs it.

      A Decking Stain is a surface sealer and similar in finish to a varnish, it can be slightly more durable than an oil and longer lasting, however over time could begin to peel and flake and need removing in order to retreat.

      Both require application to bare wood, and if you are treating decking with a previous treatment you may need to remove this first. Stain cannot go over oil it will not adhere and oil can not go over stain it will not dry. I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  36. I used oil a couple of years ago on my decking I now want to stain it what should I use because of the oil being on it already

    • Hello Martha,

      You can give you decking some colour by using a coloured decking oil. Both Barrettine and Ronseal have coloured decking oils that may suit your needs. And are likely to be suitable for use over the old treatment that you have on there. I would strongly recommend a test area first, to ensure compatibility and to check that you like the finish that will be achieved.

      And if there is anything further that I can help with please do let me know.

      Kind Regards Samantha.


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