Product Guide: Top 5 Deck Preservers


Protecting your decking is a process that takes plenty of patience and care. It is important that you use a deck preserver on old or untreated decking, this will prevent your decking from losing its vibrant appeal.

Our small but experienced team of woodcare experts have compiled the best deck preservers available, to help guide you to the product best matched for you.

Cuprinol garden decking

It’s important to note that preservers aren’t really designed for decking unless you incorporate a top coat. Generally speaking, they are used for sheds, fences, cladding, gates and other areas that don’t deal with a lot of foot traffic.

This does mean however, that you can buy the same product in the same colour to tie in your decking with other wood projects around the garden.

This detailed guide is here to assist you, by comparing and listing the best deck preservers on the market. Informing you of their more favourable attributes and of course drawbacks.

The Contenders:

If you’d like more expert advice on any of these products, contact us on our helpline at 01303 213838 to speak to our dedicated woodcare advisers. Alternatively, you can always email us at 

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What are Deck Preservers?

So, what are decking preservers and why might you need them? They protect your garden decking from rot, mildew and parasites, which are common factors in exterior timber degradation.

Treated Decking Example

Preservers usually come in to play halfway through the decking revival process. You’d start by cleaning your decking, followed by the deck preserver and finally your wood stain, oil or paint (depending on what preserver you choose).

This coating is essential for untreated decking, as it prevents deterioration and helps your decking keep its fresh appeal. Without it you run at an increased risk of decking damage.

How Does Deck Preserver Work?

Decking preservers soak deep into the cracks of your softwood or hardwood decking to help prevent your timber from worsening over time.

Treated decking

Deck preservers are also known to elevate the colour of wood, providing you select a clear preserver and not a colour.

Although, it’s important to note every decking preserver is different, with some containing more unique features than others.

Key Differences Between Decking Preservers

There are two decking preserver formula’s you need to be aware of before making your decision. The fresh-faced water-based preserver and an old-time favourite among many veteran consumers, the solvent-based preserver.

Deck preserver application

Water-based Deck Preserver

These decking preservatives are the most eco-friendly types of preservers on the market. They’ve come in as the solvent-based preservatives have become less favourable, predominantly due to its environmental impact.

The water-based and more eco-friendly formula typically contains a lower V.O.C content, also known as volatile organic compounds.

When a product has a low V.O.C, it not only contains less dangerous chemicals, but it also reduces the odour from the preservative while it’s being applied and drying.

This can sometimes make it more useable in interior spaces, giving the product more versatility (can be product dependent).

Solvent-based Deck Preserver

However, water-based preservers have only been on the market since the 21st century, before then the only formula on the market were solvent-based preservers.

These preservatives, although rivalled by a more eco-friendly version, still remain immensely popular to this day due to their effectiveness and finish qualities.

Solvent-based formulas contain a high V.O.C count and are typically only recommended for outdoor use, due to their pungent properties – although they usually have quicker drying times.

The traditional yet less environmentally friendly option, often penetrates the timber deeper than it’s water-based equivalent – therefore generally being more effective.

Some solvent-based preservers also contain wax, which make your wood water repellent. Formulas without wax will require a top coat, the product will need to specifically state it can prevent water from seeping into your timber to be effective.

Just before you start

Ensure that your wood is clean, dry and free from any surface dirt, debris or other contaminates. If your decking is in a real sorry state, take a quick look at Ronseal’s Decking Cleaner and Reviver first.

5. Ronseal Multipurpose Wood Treatment

Ronseal’s Multipurpose Wood Treatment is an eco-friendly deck preserver that offers plenty of flexibility. This environmentally friendly product can be used on interior or exterior timber.

Ronseal Multipurpose Wood Treatment
Pros and cons for this product from our team of wood care experts

As mentioned in one of our previous sections (the key differences between deck preservers), this treatment is environmentally friendly because it’s water-based.

Due to that, this product has a minimal V.O.C (otherwise known as Volatile Organic Compounds), which essentially means that it doesn’t contain lots of nasty smelling chemicals.

Because of its minimal V.O.C, it’s unlikely to cause you any harm. But, still air on caution when applying your wood care product and take the appropriate safety precautions.

This water-based preserver will be a great option for your decking if you are looking for an eco-friendly option. It also protects the wood from fungi, larvae, wood boring insects in addition to wet and dry rot.

On top of its versatility, this product provides long lasting protection that offers a clear and natural finish to your decks. It’s ideal for using before you start applying your decking stain, oil or paint.

However, this product doesn’t contain any wax or protective layering that would prevent water from getting into the cracks of your timber. To help with this, we would suggest you take a look at Ronseal’s Ultimate Protection Decking Stain.

4. Cuprinol Wood Preserver Clear

The Cuprinol Wood Preserver Clear is another interior and exterior wood preservative that is environmentally friendly with a low V.O.C.

Cuprinol Wood Preserver Clear
Pros and cons for this product from our team of wood care experts

Due to this, the product is also water-based – meaning it will still require a top layer for water-tightness. Without one, a pint of Adam’s ale will happily work overtime to plunge its way into the fine fractures of your decking.

If you’re looking for a product that won’t clash with your top coat then this is a great option to shortlist.

That’s because this Cuprinol preserver is only available in clear, meaning you won’t have to worry about any potential colour clashes.

A popular option to partner up with this preserver would be Cuprinol’s Anti-Slip Decking Stain, which is also water-based with a low V.O.C.

Making sure you have a top layer is important when using deck preservers like this, as it will ensure you have valuable long-lasting protection.

Cuprinol’s preserver has a drying time of 16 hours, so be mindful of the weather ahead – as you’ll need a few dry days to complete this.

This decking preserver actively prevents rotting and fungal decay, while also penetrating deep into the timber for long lasting protection. Cuprinol’s Wood Preserver Clear comes available in 2 sizes, 1 Litre and 5 Litres.

Expert advice: Use the Wood Finishes Direct calculator on the product page to help you save money and avoid wastage.

3. Ronseal Total Wood Preservative

Coming in at third spot is Ronseal’s Total Wood Preservative. This deck preserver offers some slightly different qualities to the previous 2, with this product being the first solvent-based wood preserver.

Ronseal Total Wood Preservative
Pros and cons for this product from our team of wood care experts

Solvent-based decking preservers offer unique protection in comparison to its water-based counterpart.

Solvents are more penetrative and often offer better wood protection, which will decrease the chance of rot and decay. This specific product also does a very effective job at preventing woodworm infestation.

However, due to its high V.O.C, when being applied and drying, it will have quite a strong smell. Due to this, Ronseal’s total preserver is for exterior use only.

On the Ronseal Preserver product page, you can choose between 5 different colours. The colour selector will give you an example as to how your wood should look after 1 or 2 coats of the product.

2 coats of the Total Wood Preservative will offer a much richer colour. We strongly advise that you don’t just put a single coat on your decking, because the protection will be nearly non-existent.

Which in turn will expose your decking to exactly what you and your preservative have teamed up to defeat in the first place.

If you’re looking for the best protection, 3 coats will give you ultimate protection. But, be aware that there is a 24-hour drying time between each coat, which would make this at least a 3-day job with consistently rain-free weather conditions.

2. Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver

Barrettine’s Premier Universal Preserver offers great protection and is an effective undercoat for most exterior wood projects. This product contains a very high V.O.C; however, it also contains a low odour formula which helps reduce the smell from your typical high V.O.C preserver.

Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver
Pros and cons for this product from our team of wood care experts

This deck preserver will provide a clear finish and is wax-free. Given that, you’ll need to apply a top coat to your decking, such as deck stain. It’s also excellent for sheds, fences, summerhouses and other exterior wood.

You can also apply decking paint or oil to Barrettine’s Premier Universal Preserver. Ronseal’s 5 star rated Ultimate Protection Decking Paint is a good option if you’re not too sure what to pick. It comes in an array of different colours and is straightforward to apply.

This decking preserver is ideal for preventing your decks getting wood boring insects, wood rotting fungi and blue stain.

Now, if you’ve read the whole article so far, you’d know that pretty much every product offers similar protection in regards to rotting fungi et cetera.

However, both the Barrettine products in the list (spoiler!) offer the best protection against blue stain fungus.

The universal preserver also offers one of the shorter drying times, with only 6-12-hours required between coats; breezing past some of the competitors drying times, such as Ronseal’s Total Wood Preservative.

The quicker drying times will help you complete the process a lot faster. While also giving you the advantage of not requiring an unrealistic amount of dry days, as we all know how unpredictable the weather can be.

As mentioned earlier, this product contains a very high V.O.C, however it won’t cause any harm to your plants or animals once dried.

1. Barrettine Premier Wood Preserver

Taking the top spot is Barrettine’s Premier Wood Preserver, an outstanding decking preserver that can be used for decking, sheds, fences and all other garden wood.

Barrettine Premier Wood Preserver
Pros and cons for this product from our team of wood care experts

Now the first question on the tip of most people’s tongues is, ‘what is the difference between this product and Barrettine’s Premier Universal Preserver?’

Well, in all honesty, there isn’t a great deal of difference. But, this decking preserver contains wax unlike its near coequal partner.

Due to this, it offers better protection against water getting into your timber. This is because the wax and water repellent resins will result in the water bouncing off the surface of the decking.

However, you will only be able to apply solvent-based decking oil as a top-coat with this product. This will limit your variety of choices with types of finishes and colours.

With all that being said, we are confident this is the best product available and that’s partly because it has over 2,300 trusted 5 star reviews on our website.

If you want to stick with the Barrettine family, we’d suggest taking a quick look at their Decking Oil. This product is an effective and popular top coat to follow this preserver.

Barrettine’s Premier Wood Preserver is another product with a very high V.O.C, so be mindful of that when selecting the best product for you.

The Premie Preserver should have a maintenance coat applied every two years to help keep your timber protected.

Specialist Tip – Osmo End Grain Sealing Wax

Now, it’s no secret that this isn’t a decking preserver. However, this is great little product we’d recommend adding on the end grains of your decking. It will seal the exposed ends of your decking while repelling any dirt and water.

Osmo’s End Grain Sealing Wax dries to a clear, natural finish, with an added benefit of preventing the decking from swelling and shrinking.

Osmo End Grain Sealing Wax

We hope you found this article informative and helpful. If there is any specific products or projects you’d like more information on, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts at or on 01303 213838.


  1. I have a garden chalet that has been supplied/fitted by a local company using tanalised (pressure treated) timber. In order to keep the existing natural colour of the wood I have previously treated the chalet with 2 coats of clear Barrettine Wood Preserver followed by a two coats of Clear Barrettine Log Cabin & Complete Decking Treatment – both supplied by Wood-finishes-direct.
    I would now like to re-treat the chalet in order to preserve it’s condition and as such would appreciate any advice as to how I can best achieve this please. Can I merely remove any dirt that has accumulated and re-coat the chalet using Barrattine (Preserver and Treatment) products as above or should I be using a different method/products?

    • Good Morning,

      Thank you for your enquiry. The products you are using are fantastic and are exactly what we would recommend. The Barrettine premier Wood Preserver will carry on protecting the wood for 5-7 years providing the Barrettine log Cabin Treatment has been topped up. Remove any dirt from the surface and just apply 1 coat of the Log Cabin treatment. If it has been longer than 5-7 years and some areas have gone back to bare wood then apply 2 coats of the preserver followed by 2 coats of the Log Cabin Treatment. What I am mainly saying is that if there is Log Cabin treatment on the surface of the wood this will hinder the penetration of the Preserver and it will sit on the surface.


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