How to Clean Decking


Sun, rain, frost, humidity, snow, sleet…we get it all in Britain, and every year our weather breaks yet another record: the wettest, hottest, driest, coldest.

As you can imagine all these temperature changes and different extremes can really knock the stuffing out of your decking, adding to the effects of everyday wear and tear. On the bright side, there are some brilliant products out there for cleaning decking and preserving it, all specially designed to keep your deck looking its best and in tip-top condition.

We’re not going to tell you how to do decking. That isn’t our job. But we can tell you how to do the best possible job of decking maintenance. Here’s how to look after your decking in the most effective way, for long-lasting life and beauty.

How to clean wooden decking

When to clean wooden decking? It might seem obvious, but you need a spell of dry weather if you want to prepare your decking for a (hopefully!) glorious spring, summer and autumn of gardening pleasure, leisure and alfresco fun.

How to clean garden decking?

Wooden decking is a wonderful feature, as practical and long-lasting as it is good-looking, but it can look very tatty if you leave it untreated and unloved. Thankfully even the ravages of the British weather can be overcome as long as you have the right products to hand. Better still, it’s a reasonably simple job. But first, what kind of problems might you have with your garden decking?

Common hardwood decking problems

  • Blackened wood is common, caused by fungus growing on the surface of the wood. This usually happens when water gets in and reacts with the natural tannin in the wood. Different woods contain different amounts of tannin, so the problem varies in intensity. You can remove black fungus with a special fungicidal wash.
  • Greying or silvering of the wood happens when it’s sun-damaged. Some people love the mellow effect but if you prefer your wood to retain its lovely colour, you can reverse the process using oxalic acid. There’s a brilliant product from Osmo called  Wood Reviver Gel, which contains the acid and can help to restore faded wood back to its natural colour.

How long do decking finishes last?

It can be a challenge to keep your decking in good order. Give it just a year and you’ll notice the effects of heavy foot traffic, spills and the elements, and see the surface deteriorating as the finish gets worn off a little at a time. This is why it can be so difficult for manufacturers to confirm how long a wood finish will last – there are so many variables. Then there are variations across a deck, where more direct sun in one area fades the wood more than in a sheltered area.

You may find you need more frequent decking treatment at the bottom of your decking’s spindles, where the wood can become extra dry, black or grey as the water runs down, taking the finish with it. This is where oils come in. Just rub the area with steel wool and treat it with more oil. Because oils deliver a seamless repair, they’re often a much better bet under these circumstances than finishes that seal the surface with a coating, much like a varnish.

A beautiful example of properly cleaned and finished decking. Photo credit to: Field Outdoor Spaces

What’s the best way to clean decking? The single most effective way to keep your garden decking in good condition is to sweep it regularly, keeping it free of anything that makes it damp or brings dirt to the party, such as a build-up of leaves and moss. If things are not too bad, a regular going over with a good decking cleaner should do the trick.

Is your garden decking pre-treated?

Before you do anything, you need to establish whether your decking has been pre-treated. Most modern decking is treated with a wood preservative to protect against wood disease and insect attacks, but very few if any come fully finished, protected with an oil or decking stain.

Pre-treated decking is sometimes called ‘tanalised timber’, and you might also come across the term ‘tanalith’, the industrial name for a wood preservative. How do you know if your decking has been pre-treated? Look for a green or brown tinge and check whether the surface colour is darker than the rest.

While clear wood preservers don’t contain pigments or dyes, the ingredients in them always influence the colour of the wood. As a general rule, if it has been pre-treated it’s ready for ‘finishing’.

Although tanalised decking is already protected from having been pre-treated, if decking boards are sawn, the newly exposed ends become vulnerable to rot and decay unless re-treated. For this we recommend Barrettine End Grain Preserver which is available in both a clear and green formula.

Does decking treatment always involve a wood preservative?

If your decking is bare wood, with nothing on it at all, we highly recommend you use a wood preservative to lengthen its useful life and protect it against the elements.

If your decking was originally finished but needs a makeover, it’s important to get the right product for the job. You need to know what finish was used in the first place and use the same thing again. Luckily there are only two types: oils and sealers. Unluckily manufacturers don’t always use the same terminology, which means this’ll be helpful…!

Decking maintenance – Oils versus sealers

  • About decking oils – Decking oils penetrate into the wood and become a part of it, with only a small amount remaining on the surface. The grain tends to show through beautifully and the wood retains its natural texture. An oil-based decking product is advantageous because it’s easier to maintain and repair. Most people also prefer to see the natural wood grain rather than cover it up.
  • About decking sealers – Decking sealers bond to produce a film on the surface, a lot like a varnish or paint. Because sealers sit on the surface the grain is slightly obscured, more like a semi-translucent paint. It also feels smooth, without much texture. A sealer is more problematic because at some point it will start to peel and flake. It’s just a case of when. This means you have to remove the flaky stuff before you can re-coat your deck with something similar, which you must. If you don’t deal with the flaking, it peels and flakes even more.

Removing existing finishes from wooden decking

Once you’ve determined which finish is currently on your wood decking, you’ll either need to prepare the surface for re-finishing or remove it altogether. Which is right for your deck? It depends what colour you want and which finish you use.

  • Sanding is only practical when your garden decking is smooth, with no grooves. If you have grooved decking, like most people, sanding won’t remove the finish from the grooves.
  • Jet washing is a popular choice for removing flaky or peeling sealers. You can use a jet washer to clean decking finished with oils too, but you need to take care not to push the existing finish out of the wood and into surrounding plants, ponds or soil.
  • If you want to re-treat your decking with a sealer, you need to remove oil-based finishes with white spirit.
  • If you want to re-treat a previously oiled decking with a fresh coat of oil, you don’t need to remove the lot first – just clean with a decking cleaner to remove any surface dirt, debris or other contaminates prior to re-oiling.
  • A varnish stripper is ideal for removing decking sealer completely so you can replace it with an oil-based product.

As a general rule, if you like the look and colour of decking oil, cleaning decking is your first step…then just re-apply 2-3 coats of fresh oil…easy!

Is my decking hard wood or soft wood?

Knowing the type of wood you’re dealing with helps you identify the ideal finish. Some exotic woods like Ipe and Bangkarai (also called Bangkirai) are very oily and sealers don’t work at all well. But don’t worry if you don’t know the actual wood type. It’s usually enough to know whether it’s made of hard or soft wood.

Making your garden decking water-repellent

Ideally, you want to make your softwood or hardwood decking water repellent. The idea is to get as much oil into the wood as possible, since hard woods are normally dense and oily. This means there are other things to consider.

Is the hard wood new or, more to the point, has it been cut down within the last few months? Most people will have no idea, but it’s important because the wood will be more oil rich when freshly cut than it will be 6, 12 or even 24 months later.

Some woods contain less oil than others and will allow 2 coats of oil, while others remain oily for at least a year. Teak, for example, is widely used for external decks because of its high oil content, making it very weather resistant. It’s often best in this case to do nothing to untreated Teak decking for the first year, then apply just one coat of decking oil a year later.

The best way of knowing whether a wood is ready for oiling or not is to drop small amounts of water on the surface.

  • If it beads up and sits on the surface, the wood is oily.
  • If the water sinks in and forms a blot or mark, the wood is ready for oiling.
  • If the water sits there for 30 minutes or so before it begins to sink in, it already contains a reasonable amount of oil and will welcome one more thin coat of oil.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the colour of the wood before finishing will greatly influence the eventual colour. For example using a Cedar Red decking stain will give you three distinct colours depending on whether you apply it to new untreated pine, new treated pine or old untreated pine.

When do you need to start decking care and maintenance?

While you can find out when the wood is ready for oiling via the water drop test, it’s often easier to tell what’s what by its appearance. If the wood looks, dry, patchy, black or grey then it’s asking to be oiled.

Demystifying decking product manufacturers’ terminology

The wood finishing industry is full of inconsistencies. The terminology can be very confusing. Most people don’t know that a lacquer and a varnish are the same thing, and many of us confuse pigments with dyes. Here’s some guidance to help you get it right:

Decking Stain – Tradesmen will probably tell you a stain is purely a colouring product, usually a liquid. It doesn’t give a sheen or protect the wood. Because it simply colours it, you need to add a protective finish. However a decking stain is rarely just a colouring liquid, it’s normally a colour with protective qualities. So far, so confusing. But things get even more complicated…

Ronseal are one of the leading suppliers of decking finishes in the UK and even they have two decking products, both called a stain although they’re very different.  Their Ronseal Decking Stain falls into the sealer category, a paint-like material that doesn’t enhance the grain and will eventually peel and flake. But they also make an Advanced Decking Stain that’s oil-based and far superior. In our opinion neither of these products should really be called a decking stain. And it’s a contradiction that isn’t unique to Ronseal.

How to differentiate them? Ronseal Decking Stain is best described as a coloured decking treatment while Ronseal Advanced Decking Stain, now discontinued, was best described as a coloured decking oil. Ronseal recently released a new and improved decking stain, Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain.

Decking Oil – If it’s called a  decking oil, it’s probably exactly that. In our experience it’s always a good choice when the product is made by a reputable company like Barrettine.

Decking Treatment – This could be an oil or a surface coating, and it’s best to find out which before use. A good example of a decking treatment, as opposed to an oil or stain is Ronseal’s Decking Protector. This protects the wood from rain and sun damage, without losing the wood’s “natural look”.

Decking Finish – This term is used to describe a myriad of products, so it’s always best to check with the manufacturer that the product you’re intending to use is suitable for the wood you are treating.

Best garden decking maintenance – The application bit

How do you apply decking oils and treatments to protect and keep your wooden decking looking good for years to come? The application techniques we’re going to talk about are relevant to oil-type decking finishes. There’s no need to discuss the sealer-type ones because we really don’t recommend them.

Note: This advice applies to decking that is either new wood, preserved new wood or wood that only has oil on it.

Once your garden decking is clean, you can apply a clear or coloured decking oil. Oils are easy to apply with no special skills required. It’s just a case of making sure the oil is pushed into the wood, not left on the surface. You can do it with a brush on textured decks, or with a long handled microfibre roller on smooth decks. If the decking is grooved you can attach a  floor brush head to a wooden handle and use it to force the oil into the grooves.

How many coats of decking oil should I apply?

Try and get as much oil into the wood as possible. Because the oil content gives the wood protection against water, UV rays and more, it’s best to do a thorough and comprehensive job. You should apply the oil thinly since a thick coat can’t penetrate easily and takes ages to dry. It’s better and faster to apply three thin coats than two thick ones. Remove any excess oil with a lint-free cloth.

As we mentioned earlier, oily woods sometimes don’t need further oiling for a while. Yours might only take one thin coat of oil before it won’t absorb any more.

It’s tempting to apply as much as you can in the hope that the more you apply, the better. But all you do is leave oily deposits on the surface which take ages to dry, sometimes more than two days. In the worst cases, the oil won’t evaporate or sink into the wood because there’s so much oil it forms a skin on the surface of the wood, which could peel off.

There’s no need to use a lot of elbow grease. Just move the oil around on the wood and apply a little bit of pressure until it has virtually all sunk into the grain. A well-applied coat of oil will comfortably dry in a day.

A beautiful example of cleaned and finished decking
Faded decking. Photo credit to: ashleigh290

8 Top Tips for Beautiful Wood Decking

  1. Never use ‘sealer-type’ decking finishes. Use a top quality coloured decking oil and stain like  Barrettine Decking Oil, a Complete Decking Treatment. It contains resins, waxes and colour pigments that stain and protect wooden decking, and we get excellent feedback about it
  2. Always apply the oil thinly
  3. Get an idea of how much oil is still in your decking – do you really need to oil it yet?
  4. Clear coats of oil best enhance the grain structure for a lovely look
  5. The darker a finish, the more UV protection and the longer it takes to fade
  6. Sweep your decking regularly
  7. Put grooved decking face down – it’s much less slippery that way, and requires less oil because the surface area is smaller. Which means it’s easier to clean and finish. Apparently the UK is the only country where it’s the norm to expose the grooves – everyone else lays their garden decking smooth side up
  8. Attend to any visible problems like greying, blackening and dryness quickly, with a suitable decking cleaner

Colouring your decking

Black finishes on decking are becoming increasingly popular and provide a wonderfully dramatic contrast with the vivid green of plants and the bright colours of flowers. The easiest way to achieve this it is to use 2 coats of Ronseal Shed and Fence Preserver in Black, finished with 2 coats of clear decking oil. Alternatively, use a clear wood preservative followed by 2 coats of Osmo Decking Oil in Black. Gorgeous!

Now you know how to clean decking, so yours can been properly prepared, treated and restored. Just add good company, food and drinks, and enjoy!

Handy wood decking maintenance links

Need help with your decking project?

For more information about wooden decking and their tretments, contact our team of resident experts who are always on hand to help with project advice and product recommendations. Alternatively, see our decking treatments FAQ page which covers many of the most commonly asked questions about wood preservers.

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

Other great blogs that talk discuss decking treatments

  • Winter Decking Care With Cuprinol
  • Decking Oil or Stain: Which is Best
  • Decking Finish Problems: Sticky Issues

    1. Hi. I have a 1 year old soft wood decking that has gone silvery in places & looks dirty when it is wet after the rain. I don’t know what to use to restore the colour back & clean the dirt off before I oil the decking. Please can you advise me.

    2. We had grooved decking installed a year ago and decking oil has just been applied for the first time.We noticed white marks on the
      Wood after 24 hours .
      Could you tell us what they are and how to get rid of them?

      • Hello Jeffery,

        If you could send me some photos I would be happy to take a look. The white could be a build up wax from slight over application or the product being a little cold before application, or more likely trapped moisture in the wood. Wood can often look and feel dry but still have a mid to high moisture content, when you apply and oil that seals the wood and then the heat of the day draws the moisture out, it can get trapped under the oil giving a slightly milky appearance. This will disperse naturally in the warmer weather the oil will slowly allow the moisture out and any milky patches will disappear.

        I hope that helps.

        kind regards Samantha.

    3. I really struggle with wood treatments. My decking needs cleaning and treating. I want an oil not a stain. However I do not want to colour the wood. I am happy for it to look the same colour as it does when it rains but I do not want any colour. The decking oils such as Ronseal and Cuprinol look coloured to me even in the ‘natural’ versions and in photos people have posted in reviews. I suppose I am expecting the decking oil to look something like the oils we have for cooking in the kitchen! There are other brands which you can’t get in the usual DIY shops and I wonder whether I will get what I am looking for with one of those, but have no idea. Please are you able to suggest something?

      • Good Afternoon Julia,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry and my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. Decking Oils are ideal for protecting your decking and so easy to apply and maintain over time. A clear oil will give you that ‘wet look’ and for this I would recommend either the Barrettine Decking Oil or the Manns Premier UV Decking Oil

        These will help make the wood moisture repellent and give some UV protection, although it is fair to say that a coloured oil will improve the level of protection against UV.

        If you take a look at those options and fee free to get back to me with any questions you may have. Always try a test area first.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    4. I had a new untreated deck laid last year but got confused bout treating it,I stained it grey without oil or preservatives,,I have used deck restorer reviver and jet washed the decking,Ihis year,,i put on one coat of stain the year before,this year I want to use same colour after cleaning deck and jet washing it it still has grey stain in parts but looks faded and silvery now ,can I treat with preservative as it is then stain?or just stain ,very confused with all advice about,

      • Good Afternoon Mick,

        If the decking still has some of the previous stain remaining on the surface of the wood, it will prevent the preservative from absorbing effectively. Perhaps if you are able to send me a photos of the current condition of the decking to and will be happy to take a look for you and advice further.

        But as a guide I would say that to apply a preserver at this stage you will need to consider removing all the current finish. If this is not a viable option then repair any areas that are flaking, with a light sand and then a full coat all over with the same stain used previously.

        Please do get in touch so I can advice further.

        All the best Samantha.

    5. Hi, thanks for this article, it’s really helped me make my mind up on how to clean up my decking. I do have one question though. Do you have any recommendations on what brush to use to clean my wooden decking that won’t scratch or splinter it? I used a wire scrubbing brush on a test area and it left marks. It’s super dirty so I need something that has a bit of scrubbing power but is still gentle enough to not destroy it. Many thanks

      • Hello Kelly,

        It can depend on the type and condition of the wood you are cleaning, a soft wood will mark far easier than a hardwood, although a hardwood will show up marks more that a soft wood and so it is important to use the right tools.

        Whether your decking is grooved or smooth, then a brush is going to be the best option and if you are able to find a broom with some mid to hard bristles you can use this to sweep thoroughly first and remove all debris and foliage. Then with a good quality decking cleaner such as the Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner you will be able get the wood back to a reasonable condition.

        If the wood has silvered considerably then you could also look at using a reviver product to restore the wood back to its original condition and for this I would also recommend a Barrettine product Barrettine Wood Reviver it is super fast and effective restoration product.

        As with all products a test area is strongly recommended and if you need any guidance with protective and finishing treatments please do let me know.

        All the best Samantha.

    6. Hello,
      We have just had grooved decking put down and had it painted with an anthracite grey stain . Sadly my husband hates the colour . What is the best way for removing the stain/paint.

      Many thanks

      • Hello Rosie,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. Its always disappointing when you are not happy with the colour result and this is why we always recommend doing a test area first, the wood you are applying to can impact on the finish or screen resolutions can vary meaning the swatches are a guide only.

        If it is a surface stain or paint you have used, then you may be able to strip back with the Barrettine Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover this is a gel that lift the paint to be scraped of it can be a messy job however the Paint Panther is quick and the most effective of many of the strippers on the market. I would recommend a test area first to ensure that there is no adverse reaction and that it is the right product for your project.

        You can also pressure wash the decking, this could help lift the paint if it is a surface coat product, although again take care as pressure washing can also damage and splinter the wood.

        I hope that helps and if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    7. Hello I’m thinking of ordering the Ronseal decking oil (to cover silver / grey boards) could you tell me which color is the lighter Natural or Natural Pine. Many thanks

      • Good Morning Sharron,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. They will be very close in finish and the wood that you are applying to will impact on the final colour, I would say that the Natural Pine will be not so much darker but has a stronger pigment to change the colour a little more than the natural will.

        However as you are applying it to wood that has silvered you will get a slightly different colour than expected, the UV will have changed the composition of the wood as well as the colour and so you may not get a different result. This is why test areas are always recommended as the condition of the wood will play an part in the final result.

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

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    8. Hello,
      I fitted new decking last year and painted it with the cuprinol anti slip decking stain (urban slate) and i’m really happy with it. The only problem I have is that I’ve had resin “bleed” out of a few areas around knots in the wood. This has resulted in white patches and a small build up of resin in half a dozen patches. What would you recommend to remove the resin before re-painting.
      Many Thanks

      • Hello Jason,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. This can be a regular problem, with some wood being more prone to resin leaching out. You can try wiping the area with White spirits to remove as much of the stain as possible. This should remove fair amount from the surface but you may need to lightly sand if it does not. Once dry you can then reapply your coat of Cuprinol, blending may not be seamless but it will improve the look of the area.

        Tannins and resins leaching out are a natural process with wood and can be difficult to stop. You can clean the areas and they will be fine for a fair while and then a period of wet weather can reactivate and cause the problem to reoccur.

        Barrettine Patent Knotting is a good option for treating before application of paints varnishes or oils and will help reduce future leaching but it does need application before top coat treatments are applied.

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

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    9. Hi there, we bought a boat with teak decking a(20years old) and it is splitering. I can’t find any advise on the internet. What would you recommend to stop or treat the splintering please?

      • Good Afternoon,

        Oh Ellie, I wish I knew what would help but this is not my field of expertise unfortunately. If the wood is splintering it could be a number of things, that could be linked with structure, type of wood, age and much more. We do not have any products that will help with preventing this from occurring unless the splintering is caused by the wood being too dry. I suspect that this is an unlikely cause. I would be happy to have a look at some photos if you wanted to send them in to but I can make no promises. Sorry.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    10. Hi there, looking for some advice…just had a brand new Yellow Balau deck fitted and have not used anything on it yet. What would you reccomend to use to make it and it’s colour last as long as possible?


      • Hello Dave,

        Thank you for your enquiry. The first thing to do is carry out a test area, put a drop of oil, vegetable or olive from the kitchen would be fine, on the surface of the wood and leave it for around an hour. It it remains unmoved there is still a high level of natural oil in the wood. This means it is unlikely to absorb any further treatment at this time and you will need to try again in 6 months. If it moves or soaks in then you are able to apply one or two coats of either Barretine Teak Oil which is a slightly thinner oil that is suited for tropical hard woods such as Balau, but has not got UV protection and so the wood will silver over time.

        Or the Barrettine Decking Oil which does have the UV Filters in it, but is slightly thicker so may need a bit or working into the wood. A test area should be done first. And if you have any further questions please do let me know.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    11. I have a mixture of hardwood in my garden: iroko, ipe and balau. It’s been there a couple of years now and you can just see the colour still but it is beginning to go grey. Would it be ok to use the Osmo gel on all 3 woods to revive it, and then straight to a clear oil, or do I need to apply anything else after the gel? There are only a couple of green patches in the shade which I can clean by hand, the rest is pretty clean. Is it better to use a tinted oil to delay the greying process? Is every couple of years ok? And finally which oil is best, and brush or pads? Thank you sooo much!

      • Hello Jane,

        That would be the ideal process, the Osmo Wood Reviver Gel will bring back the original colour ready for application of a protective oil.

        I would recommend the Barrettine Teak Oil, as this is ideal for use with tropical hardwoods such as Ipe and Iroko. And for application you could look at the Manns 147 Natural Decking Brush, which is ideal for grooved decking and working in the oil. Always try a test area first and if there is anything further that I can help with please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact page.

        Many thanks, Samantha.

    12. I have been trying to restore my deck and seem to have been over enthusiastic with the pressure washer in some areas! As a result some of the grooved softwood boards have raised grain, splinters and or deeper gaps.
      I don’t want to paint the deck – most of it I’ve managed to get back to a good condition.
      My question are…
      What is the best way to restore the jet wash damage?
      Can I sand grooved decking and if so, any tips on spreading up sanding within the grooves?
      Any tips on how to make a tool to form the ridges when filling in gaps?
      Looking forward to your advice.
      Kind regards,

      • Hello Tara,

        To sand grooved decking is difficult and would need to be done by hand, but in order to repair damage you have it may be necessary. Unfortunately there is no easy way to do it sorry.

        Many of our customers use the Manns 147 Natural Decking Brush for application of a protective treatment and it is ideal for grooved decking. And if you need an further advice of how to protect your decking please do not hesitate to get in touch.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    13. Hi,

      I have a massive area of decking, that covers part of a large sloped garden, It is two tiered and is roughly 480sq Meters. Although we have painted/stained it every year, it is now looking very tired and the paint/finish is peeling. My Mrs wants to go back to a natural finish and actually wants to replace all the boards (around 120 x 4.8m boards). I can’t use ant kind of paint or decking stain remover, due to a large Koi pond that is sunken into a part of the decking. I was thinking of sanding it, but with such a size (there is also a lot of horizontal laid boards), is it worth it. I don’t fancy kneeling there for days and days with a 3″ belt sander. I was thinking of hiring a commercial floorboard sander! Any suggestions?

      • Hello,

        You could try a pressure washer for removal to try to make the job a little easier. Pressure washers are good for removing lose paint or stain and may reduce the amount of sanding that will be required. I would say that if the decking is grooved sanding will not be an effective removal of all the treatment.

        When using the pressure washer take care not to hold the nozzle too close to the surface to avoid damaging the wood surface as well. Or failing that get the advice of a local trades man to get an idea of how long it will take and make a decision from there.

        Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    14. Hello,

      I used an oak coloured oil for new decking last summer, and although it has faded since then it is still too dark, so what can I do to bring it back to a state where I can re-oil it but with a natural colour instead?

      I don’t think I can just apply the new lighter oil as it most likely won’t have any effect on a darker colour.

      I have read reviews for strippers, but they seem to be more for paints/stains, so not sure if it would work on oil (plus the Ronseal one’s reviews are awful). Would white spirit work here and if so how should it be applied before jet washing?



      • Hello Dan,

        You will need to remove the darker decking oil in order to return to the natural tones of the wood and you are right about using White Spirit. This will help to remove some of the oil, but the most effective method will be to use a pressure washer.

        Care should be taken with using pressure washers on decking they can damage the wood, so take care not to hold the nozzle too close to the surface of the wood or concentrate on one area for a prolonged period. This will help to avoid damaging or splintering the wood. Once the existing finish is removed and the decking is clean and dry you can then move onto retreating.

        A good quality Preservative to protect from mould, mildew and rot. And then a clear Decking Oil to give water repellency.

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

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    15. Hello, I treated my new decking with an oak coloured oil last summer but it is a lot darker than I would like. I want to still use oil but a lighter colour, so what should I do? Shall I jet wash first to see if the old dark colour fades a bit first?

      • Hello Daniel,

        You could leave the decking for while to see if the colour fades naturally in the sunlight, this could take a year or two however depending on exposure, or using a pressure washer may remove a fair amount of the current treatment allowing for a new finish to be applied. Pressure washing needs to be done with care as very high pressure or holding the nozzle close to the surface of the wood can damage the wood, causing splintering or a rough finish. This in turn can have an impact on the treatment that you apply.

        There is also the option of wiping with white spirits if you have smooth rather than grooved decking.

        Always try a test area first and feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    16. Hi I cleaned my decking with ronseal cleaner and reviver then jet washed but there is rust marks and a couple of other stains other than that it has cleaned up well what should I use to remove these? Your advice would be very appreciated. Just hoping for dry weather to get it finished!!! Thankyou

      • Hello Jeanette,

        If the cleaner and jet wash have not removed these stains then its down to good old fashion elbow grease, I’m afraid. So sanding back to remove, just be careful not to over sand as this can effect how a new treatment is absorbed or adheres to the wood. If you have any questions please do let me know and we also have some very helpful videos on our YouTube Channel.

        Kind regards Sam.

    17. Your advice is so helpful – so thanks in advance re my query. I have a Balau deck, ridge side up. It’s about 2 years old and been treated each year with oil ( last year builder used oil with a tint to increase UV protection which made the wood go quite brown rather than its natural reddy yellow). It is now very grey/brown and tired looking so I’ve used Ronseal cleaner on about a third but all it seems to have done is made it a cleaner lighter grey. Should I try sanding, do I just repeat the cleaner or should I now oil to bring back some red colour?

      • Hello Natasha,

        If it possible can you send some photo to me at It does sound like it has silvered in the sun but I would like to see some pictures if possible. I would continue to clean at this point because you want an even finish all over. Once you have done this you could try a small test area with some oil and see what colour is achieved.

        If it has silvered from the sun then a Reviver Gel is a great product for bringing the wood back to its original state and then re oiling. I hope that helps and as I say feel free to forward me some photos.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    18. Help ! Bought a house with a deck at rear – it had been painted ! The paint is now shabby and flaking and wood bare in places – will take ages to remove paint entirely. Can you give me advice about what to do for this season – best way of removing paint and how to revive by re-treating onto previously-painted wood. Trying to avoid renewing decking completely but tempted to do this when I see the images of treated decking on your web-site ! Await advice with anne-ticipation. Thanks.

      • Hello Anne,
        Our first recommendation would be to remove all the previous paint and start again with bare wood. Pressure washers are good for removing loose paint and varnishes. And then a good Preservative and Decking Oil.

        But I understand that this is not always an option and so if you are able to remove as much of the loose paint as possible then you could have a look at applying the Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Paint. This is a good fix for any decking that has already got paint or varnish on it. Always try a test area first. And feel free to get in touch should you have any further questions.

        Kind Regards Sam.

    19. Hi there
      Last May we bought some ex-display decking tiles from a large department store and we were very pleased as we had managed to get a rather large area of decking for a relatively small amount of money. Unfortunately, the display tiles had been previously painted so we decided to prepare them and paint them again as the alternative of taking them back to bare wood seemed much more difficult. I did my reseacrh online and went with a decking paint which seemed to get the best reviews, however as soon as autumn came, the paint started to flake off. We tried to pressure wash off the paint and was left with very unsightly residue and contacted the manufacturer who suggested we use a paint stripper and sanding paper! The decked area is huge! My other half came up with the idea of flipping over the decking and we have today started this job. Hopefully we will get it finished tomorrow, however now I want to make sure I get it right. From reading through this site and your advice, I guess the best thing to do now is to clean the decking, apply a preservative and then oil the decking. I am very keen to keep it as natural as possible. When cleaning, is it OK to use a wire brush and jet wash, together with a cleaning solution? Can you recommend some products for me? Many thanks Bernadette

    20. Hi there, I’m looking for some advice about my decking. We have recently moved into our new house and the decking is looking very old and tatty, the previous owner said it had been down for about 5 years, and they hadn’t kept up it’s maintenance. I’ve never had decking before so I’m not sure how to get it looking nice again, I would like it to look like a dark wood effect, but what exactly do I need to do to get it looking nice?!

      Many thanks X

      • Hello Claire,

        Thank you for your inquiry, the first thing to do is establish if there is any product on it. A surface seal such as a paint will limit the products that I can recommend. If the wood is bare then the first thing is to clean it. Ronseal Decking Cleaner and Reviver is a good product to start with and then once the decking is clean and dry you could look at applying a Coloured Decking Oil.

        Using an oil will make future maintenance easier as you do not need to remove the previous treatment just ensure the decking is clean and dry and then reapply a year or two down the line when you feel that the wood needs it. And also the darker the colour that you apply the more UV protection the wood will have. I hope that helps to guide you in the right direction and please let me know if you have any further questions.

        Kind regards Sam.

    21. Thanks for sharing these great tips and ideas. It would be helpful for me to protect my deck, and maintains the deck beauty last longer by using these effective measures.

    22. My decking was pressured washed and then what I had left of my usual ordinary decking oil was applied to one area. It looked as it should. The kind person doing it for me then bought new textured decking oil and applied to a large area of decking with a spray last week. I had always used ordinary decking oil before. This time there are crystallised white areas all over the decking and it looks awful. Even where the oil has landed on plants it has turned white. Please can you tell me how to get rid of the crystals and why it happened in the first place? I have had the decking for 8 years and this has never happened before.

      • Hello Jane,

        Would it be possible for you to send me photos of the decking and details of what product you used and where you got it from and I may be able to help. You can email us on – Kind regards Sam.

    23. Thanks for replying to my question… it will need a second coat of oil… shall I remove the excess build up with the white spirit before I do a second coat? Many thanks

    24. Hi

      Two months ago I built my decking, I had been meaning to oil it but with August being one of the wettest ever I didn’t get chance… so I went to oil this sunday just gone… I used Ronseal ultimate Decking oil Natural with the pad applicator… what I found was is that it dripped in between the boards and also even tho I was careful… it left excess oil marks from the edge of the pad… In hindsight… I wish I had used a brush the old fashioned way!! I spoke to Ronseal technical services and she has advised me to break down the excess marks by pouring on white spirit to dissolve the excess oil and scrubbing with a broom… and use a smaller softer brush to get the marks left by the dripps in between the boards with white spirit!! Do you think this will be ok?

      • Hello Tommy

        It is true to say that the White Spirit will break down the oil and remove it for you, you could try using a brush for removal but you might find it easier to use a Finishing Pad as it could be a bit more accurate for you and easier to scrub off. Hope it goes well – Sam

    25. Hi,
      A bit of a daft question but what is the finish of the Barrettine Clear decking oil?
      I’m after a totally clear, satin/matte finish. Not the ‘wet look’ that some give (the Ronseal Natural for example)
      I’m hoping for the Osmo reviver gel to restore the grey boards back to some sort of yellow pine finish and then a clear oil to help preserve but not change that look too much, although I’m expecting a bit of a darker finish once the oil has absorbed but that will be fine.
      Any advice if the above products would be good for what I’m after would be much appreciated.

      • Hello Paul,

        Not a daft question at all. It is fair to say that all oils will darken the wood to some degree. How much will depend on the wood that you are applying it to, and also the amount of pigment in each product. Even clear oils will have a small amount of pigment in them, although you won’t see it when applied. The Ronseal Natural I believe has slightly more than some of the others, but it is difficult for me to determine which of the other Decking Oils would have the least in them.

        I am confident that the Barrettine Decking Oil would give you the finish that you are looking for and will only slightly darken the wood.

        There is one alternative that you might want to look at and that is the Osmo UV Protection Oil Extra Natural. It is designed to leave the wood looking as Natural as possible and not darken at all.

        Whichever product you choose, we always recommend a test area first to ensure that you do like the finish achieved.

    26. Hi
      I have moved in a house recently. It has a large decking area with sitting areas . It was painted black and flaking at most of the places. I power washed bot at some places the black paint stain would not go.
      I would like to paint it in dark so that these black spots do not show up.
      I cannot practically remove these black paint spots due to the large and awkward sitting areas. I cannot afford to hire someone to do it.
      Please advise what best should I do to paint over it in dark or black.
      Waiting four kind advice.

      • Hello Mahmood,

        Thank you for your inquiry. Realistically the only way that you will be able to cover black patches is by using a black product to finish your deck in.
        You may want to consider the Cuprinol Stain Stripper. We no longer stock these but still highly recommend them.

        If you are still unable to remove the patches, then Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain may be a good product for you to consider using, as it has black in its range. However, it is recommended that all previous products be removed before using this, as it would be with all products. A test area should be done first to ensure both compatibility and coverage. I hope you manage to achieve the look you are after – Sam.

    27. hi
      i had a large decking area fitted last sep 2014 abt 100m2 its now looking a bit dull the wood was pre-treated could u tell what is the best and affordable clear oil or varnish to put on and the preparation before and after also how many tins and wat type of brush

    28. We have a large area of decking. We used Ronseal restorer on half of it. It made no difference to the appearance whatsoever and needed another tin for other half. So we decided we’d just go straight to oiling the other half using Ronseal decking oil. After waiting for the half with the restorer to dry we then oiled that half too. A few hours later it rained. We panicked about the bit we’d just done but actually it’s fine, it’s the other half that’s the problem, the rain is just washing off the oil and it looks patchy and it had 2 days to dry.
      I can’t find any advice online. I’m presuming the restorer, while making no difference to the initial appearance, has increased the absorption of oil by the wood. I thought I should put the restorer on the bit we didn’t do but tin says don’t put on recently treated decking. Does that include oil that’s washing off?? Or do we need to buy something else?
      Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

      • Hello Sam,

        It is likely that the restorer has made a difference to the wood, it may not have brought the original colour back as well as you had hoped but it will have stripped any some of the dirt and oil in the wood and opened up the grain. By opening the grain it would have made the wood more absorbent allowing the Oil in much more easily. I would suggest that you treat the other side in the same way that you did the first and you should get a an equal result. Hope that helps – Sam

    29. We cleaned our ipe decking with a jet wash using a circular head but it now has dark circles all over the decking. I am desperate to get an even tone to the wood again and wonder if oiling the wood is the solution or whether I need to sand it back to a uniform state.

      • Hello Christine,

        I would anticipate that you will need to sand back the Decking in order to achieve a more uniform finish. Oiling will reduce the effect of the circles but not hide it entirely. feel free to email us some photos to and we can take a closer look for you.

    30. Have a major problem …… I own a pressure treated deck …. Approximately 10 years old …. and I applied Thompson’s WaterSeal (Waterproof PLUS clear Wood Protector) on my greying deck. I cleaned the deck first with a deck cleaner …. don’t want to hear about what I should or shouldn’t have done …. I need to remove the cleaner from deck as the WaterSealer has darkened the original light grey tone of the deck so much so my wife hates it …. really hates it!
      What’s the best way possible to remove the Thompson’s sealer to somehow get the old look back?
      I’m at fault for presuming the “clear” version of the sealer would not affect the outcome of the colour …. just need some serious professional advice as to how to regain the old look of the deck …. have to agree with my wife, I don’t like the look …. please advise me on what to do next (deck stripper, sanding, etc?)

      Thanks ….. Please hurray, my wife is pissed 🙂

      • Hi Steve,

        I believe the only way to remove the Thompsons Water Seal will be to sand back the wood. This will return the decking wood to it original colour rather than the Grey/ Silvered effect that you had previously. Once you are back to bare wood I would recommend using the Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative and then a Decking Oil this one has limited UV protection which will allow your decking to fade back to the silver effect if you want. Hope you are able to get it back to what you want and if you have anymore questions please let us know.

    31. we have oiled our new decking with a coloured oil. The result is much darker than I wanted and I now regret not using a clear oil. Also its patchy in parts and already has what look like scuff marks on it. We have only put on one coat. Is there any way to remove it and start again

      • Hello Gillian,

        A good going over with a pressure washer may get rid of a lot of the treatment and then any left may come off with some White Spirit. Failing that you would need to sand back to bare wood. Once you have it back to the bare wood I would recommend a preservative first. Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative is a great product that offers a lot of protection. And then follow with a Decking Oil in a clear finish for protection and water repellency. It’s worth noting that the oil will darken the wood slightly on application and the best way to get an idea of this is to wipe a damp cloth across the bare wood. Always try a test area first.

    32. Good morning,

      I recently laid some brand new decking tiles described as oiled acacia hardwood.

      After drying out following some recent showers there are some noticeable water stains. Is this normal? Presumably it will only get worse so in your view what would be the best course of action to maintain the original appearance of the product?

      Thank you in anticipation for your advice.

      • Good Morning John,

        It would be worth lightly scrubbing the water stained area with just a scourer and some warm water to see if it removes the stain, if not you will probably need to sand back the area to remove it. With out knowing what the Oil is that is already on the decking it is difficult for me to comment on the reasons why you have got water marks, but it may be that you just need to add some more decking oil to give the protection levels a boost. Generally speaking most Oil products will go on one another with out any problems but we always advice that you do a test area first to ensure firstly that you like the finish but also the differing products will not have any reaction. I would recommend Barrettine Decking Oil, which has UV protection and will enhance the natural look of the wood.

    33. Hi,

      This is a great help but I wonder if you can advise me on a product that I can use to remove old decking stain? We have had our decking down for 7 years and always used ronseal decking stain but it peals and flakes and generally looks tatty after 6 months. Our decking is in constant afternoon sunlight so I’m wondering if an oil would be better. We have jet sprayed it in the past but it never removes all the old stain and on a water metre we are always a bit cautious.
      Thanks Annabel

      • Hello Annabel,

        There are two options here for removing the Decking stain, the first and slightly more laborious would be to sand the areas where the varnish remains. The second would be to use Paint Panther Paint and Varnish, you would need to take care of any plants or pond areas that are near to the deck when removing. When you have managed to get the wood striped back I would definitely recommend using a preservative first to protect against mould, mildew, rot and wood boring insects. Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative is a great quality product. And then a top coat treatment of oil, such as Barrettine Decking Oil to finish your deck will give the best protection and will be easy to maintain. You can add maintenance coats every one or two years with out having to remove the previous coats and it won’t peel or flake like the stain has – Sam

    34. Hi there I wonder if you can help. Last year we painted our deck as there was a lot of green and black and my husband said IT was the only thing that could be done. I hated doing it as I prefer the natural wood colour, we chose an oak finish that looked orange brown and I hated it.

      At the weekend I power washed the deck snd pleasantly most of the colour has come off, still some stubborn patches. Whet can I use to get rid of the remaining colour? Also as I’ve power washed it looks like the deck needs sanding to remove bits of wood that have splintered slightly. I would appreciate your help ad it looks messy and I want to rectify it before the summer – 🙂

      Thank you, looking forward to your response

      • Hello Hayley,

        Thank you for your inquiry, it’s good that most of the product has come off with the power washer and for those stubborn areas you can use a product called Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover, but also if you are sanding back some areas to improve the look then that could help with removal as well. The first thing to consider is if there is any of that Black or Green remaining on the surface of the deck. This sounds like algea and mould issues that arise from damp or water penetration into the wood. if you have any of that then Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner will be the best thing to get rid of it. Once this has been done and you have some dry days, a preservative would be the first product that you would need to apply. This will protect against mould, mildew, dry rot, wet rot and wood boring insects. Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative is the best one to use. As a top coat product, I would recommend a decking oil which will water proof and protect the decking from the sun’s UV rays. We have a large selection of Decking Oils, all in a similar price range, so it would be worth having a look at a few and seeing if there is a particular colour or finish that you like. Once the 2 coats of oil have been applied, your deck will look almost as good as new and if you do regular maintenance and re-oil the deck every couple of years, then you will not need to remove or re-preserve for up to 10 years.

    35. Hi, I’m getting ready to re-treat my decking with oil. The general condition of the wood after 10 years of care is excellent save the fact that the oil treatment of two years ago wasn’t done correctly because it rained just after application and has now gone patchy. I’d appreciate some advice on which oil remover I should use to bring everything back to a neutral state. I’m not adverse to a bit of elbow grease to achive a good result.

      • Hello John,

        Thank you for your inquiry, the best thing for removal of the existing Oil will be White Spirit and a bit of elbow grease. To avoid getting a patchy look when you re-oil, your best option would be to remove all the previous oil so that you are back to bare wood again. It could also be an opportunity for you to apply a fresh coat of preservative to the decking before re-oiling. Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative comes in a clear or coloured finish and will protect against most wood related issues. Once the preservative has dried (48 hours) you can apply two coats of a good quality decking oil, such as Barrettine Decking Oil or Ronseal Decking Oil.

    36. I hired someone to power wash my decking and railings as I recently moved into a house with a very neglected area. After the power wash I was told the best thing I could have done to restore the area was to have it oiled. It had previously been stained dark brown and was in need to restraining. I agreed as the guy seemed to know what he was talking about, but the result is awful – patchy light orange areas where the staining has been removed and dark areas where the stain remains. It looks worse than it did before, except it’s clean! When I said I wasn’t happy with the patchy effect I was told in time the stain will flake off and next year I can have it oiled again and it will look better. It’s a big area and my lounge looks out onto it – it’s not a nice sight. Before it was dirty but I could live with the colour, now it looks like it’s half finished and in need of a lick of paint. Is there anything I can do? I’m a lady on my own and don’t have the means to pay someone to redo it.

      • Hello Jane,

        It sounds like you have had an unfortunate time with the treatment of your Decking. The original stain should have been removed completely before re applying a new treatment, even if the same product was used, the previous stain would make a fresh treatment patchy. It sounds like the previous treatment was a varnish as this is the only product that is likely to peel and flake over time. Ideally you need to remove all of the product that is on your decking back to bare wood so that you are able to get an even base to treat. You may be able to do this again with a pressure washer, but a varnish remover may be required. Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover is suitable for external use. Once all the old treatment is removed and you are back to bare wood, I would recommend a Decking Oil of which we have a few on our website. A Decking Oil will not peel and flake over time but can simply be cleaned and re oiled when required.

    37. I have a an Ipe decked area. Over the last year it has gone a bit grey and green with moss (It’s in the shade mostly).
      What products do you recommend to get it looking beautiful again?

      • Hello Mark,

        Thank you for your inquiry. There are a couple of products that you can use to refresh your decking. The first thing to do is to sweep any dirt and debris from the deck and then you can use a decking cleaner, such as Ronseal Decking Cleaner and Reviver. This will remove any moss, mould or algae from your deck and then to restore and revive the colour of the wood before treatment you could use the Osmo Wood Reviver Gel. You may need to use a little elbow grease with this product. Once you have done these 2 treatments your deck will begin to look like new again and ready for a preservative, such as Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative, and as you have a hard tropical wood decking I would recommend that you use the Barrettine Teak Oil as this is a slightly thinner oil that will penetrate easier.

    38. Useful article! Thanks a lot for sharing! I have a beautiful deck and it was kind of a hard work to clean it perfectly, so, I am really thankful about this post!

    39. excellent website! As someone who helped a joiner friend set up a decking firm long before Titchmarsh etc., I can confirm that grooved is a UK aberration- Americans I spoke to were mystified by the use of grooved decking many years ago. I had to explain that when decking became popular here, the major timber suppliers were terrified that Joe Bloggs would simply buy 4″ x 2″ tanalised boards from their local yard- so they convinced the TV progs etc that American-style flat decking was dangerous; grooved (which they produce) was vital. Like flat concrete, flat decking should get a quick wash maybe 3 times a year (grooved needs more because the grooves cast tiny shadows that encourage moss). Quite honestly, grooved is insanity. And ugly. If you don’t believe me, look at American decks (even in the wetter parts!).

    40. We had decking and a balcony around it last year. We oiled it with Libaron and this year the decking is OK but the balustrades have resin coming out of them, they are looking dirty and considering others around us ( this is around a caravan) ours is looking very tatty. What did we do wrong and please how can we make it look nice again?

      I have sanded the rails today but they still look dirty so I think if we just oil again it won’t make a lot of difference.

      Thank you
      Ann Truan

      • Hi Ann,

        It sounds like the balustrades have taken the brunt of the weather and with the combination of wind, rain and sun, the oil has been stripped from the wood. This can result in the wood loosing it’s natural colour and turning grey silver over time which can give it the appearance of being ‘dirty’. It’s always difficult to tell without seeing pictures so please feel free to email us at

        In these situations, as long as the wood has been sanded back to bare wood, we would recommend scrubbing the wood with Osmo Wood Reviver Gel. Follow the instructions and this should return the wood back to or certainly nearer to its original colour. Once this has been done, you can treat the Balustrades with a UV-resistant product, such as Osmo UV Protection Oil Extra 420. Alternatively, a coloured / pigmented decking oil will colour the wood and protect it from the elements. As both of these products are oils, they will not crack, peel or flake and maintenance will be a case of just applying a fresh coat of oil every year or two.

        Whichever approach you choose, always do a test area first and follow the product instructions on the tin.


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