Decks cost tidy sums but they become weather-beaten and age so very quickly.
You don’t want to throw money away or get a new deck every few years, so take the smart route: apply decking oil periodically to restore your deck, and to maintain and protect it.
It takes a beating from your feet. From furniture dragged across it. From the rain and snow.
Even from the sun’s rays! Yes, your floors take a beating from your feet but neither rain nor hail touches them. Okay, your roof has to weather the elements but water immediately runs off it and you certainly don’t walk on it. The fact is that it’s your deck and your deck alone that bears the brunt of everything. That’s the reason so many decks look so tatty and weather-beaten, and it’s also the reason that these much-abused structures need regular TLC, especially in regions where the elements are relatively merciless. And the best way to do so is by – besides keeping your deck clean and dry – is by periodic applications of decking oil.
How, though, should you choose the ‘best’ decking oil? Obviously, you should choose an oil that is at least suited to, if not specially made for, your deck’s type of wood. You could use an oil made for Douglas Fir for other lighter-coloured, low-tannin softwoods like Spruce but probably not for Oak. Similarly, you could use a made-for-Oak oil for other ‘grainy,’ usually high-tannin hardwoods like Ash but certainly not for Fir. However, you could use a clear or neutral oil for just about any type of deck.
Which Decking Oil?
All that said, it’s not only about the colour or finish, let alone the ‘best’ decking oil. It would be well to think about the added benefit or value a decking oil could bring to your deck to be able to zero in on the ‘best’ decking oil for your circumstances. For instance, if your household includes elderly persons who are unsteady on their feet or rambunctious young children, non-slip coatings and slip resistance may be of paramount importance to you. But if your deck has a northern exposure and is not sheltered or shaded from the sun, your primary consideration might be UV protection. What about the frequency and amount of rainfall and snowfall in your neck of the woods – is water-proofing and weather-proofing a priority?
Should you use an oil-based, solvent-based, or water-based oil? Hint: consider the just-previous factor. Also, the base of the decking oil will play a part in how easy or difficult it is to remove old decking oil when you want to apply a new coat. On which note, ease of application is also a consideration because not all decking oils are easy to apply. Some get tacky as you are applying them, others take an inordinately long time to dry, and a few absolutely need to be mixed very, very well.
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The five decking oils reviewed underneath are all quite easy to apply but they vary in other particulars so among these picks you’re sure to find the ‘best’ decking oil – for you.
A classy finish that shows off the character of the wood with an attractive sheen, Liberon’s affordably-priced Medium Oak decking oil also waterproofs decks.
Liberon, a company with a hundred-year history, makes a range of furniture-related products including decking oil in 5-litre cans. Our best pick is the ‘Medium Oak’ shade. ‘Teak’ and ‘Clear’ are also available.
This is a solvent-based oil that is meant to nourish hardwood and revive it and restore its colour. In practice, this oil also brings out the wood’s character and grain. It also protects decking from the elements.
Liberon’s decking oil is waterproof. The oil itself penetrates the wood but does not allow water to penetrate the waterproof barrier it makes; water will harmlessly pool on the surface.
It also has UV filters to shield wood from solar ultra-violet rays.
Though this is not an anti-slip oil as such, it makes for a non-slip surface.
Rated to cover 8 to 10 square metres per litre meaning 40 to 50 square metres per 5-litre can, actually a can will cover 33 to 37 square metres. Though drying time is specified as (only) 15 minutes it would be wise to budget at least three hours.
Meant to be applied with a brush or roller, this oil can also be sprayed provided a high-quality commercial sprayer is used. However, it is so easy to apply with a brush that even inexperienced DIYers can get the job done.
Liberon’s product is smellier than most but if you can get over that you’ll end up with a finish that is elegant with a lovely sheen but without being at all gaudy. Two coats will produce a shade that is not exactly ‘Medium Oak’ but a rich, dark tone. It is quite a long-lasting oil.
Although this product is an oil and not a stain, the quality is so good and the finish is so rich that you can even use it as a stain for outdoor furniture, fences, benches, and such.
And it’s exactly because – to quote ourselves – ‘the quality is so good and the finish is so rich’ that Liberon’s Medium Oak decking oil gets the Best Pick slot, and the fact that it is moderately-priced only helps its cause!
- Overall quality and finish are truly high class – brings out the wood’s character and leaves an attractive sheen.
- Properly water-proofs decking.
- The moderate price is a welcome bonus.
- Smellier than most other oils.
Though it takes long to dry, Ronseal’s ‘ultimate protection’ is priced very low, it waterproofs decking, and breathes new life into dry, worn-out timber.
Ronseal is well-known for its many wood- and furniture-related products. Among these, it makes quite an array of highly-specific decking oils. Besides the Natural finish reviewed here, Natural Oak, Dark Oak, Natural Cedar and Natural Pine are also available in the ‘Ultimate Protection’ range. These are sold in 5-litre cans.
They can be used for not only decking but wooden garden furniture.
This is a water-based oil that, according to the marketing material, uses ‘Linseed Oil technology’ and penetrates deep into the wood ‘to provide increased durability.’
Stated as having a non-slip finish, affording UV protection, and waterproofing your deck, it does an acceptable job of providing a non-slip surface. It is excellent at waterproofing; after application water simply beads and pools on the surface. That said, it is not ideal for regions that see frequent rain or wetness as that will cause this water-based oil to get tacky.
Ronseal says that a 5-litre can will be good for two coats on 20 square metres but this is too optimistic. Budget on getting two medium-application coats on more like 10 to 12 square metres.
This virtually odourless is particularly easy – very easy – to apply with a brush. Though it is best to use a brush, a roller can also be used in addition to which it can also be sprayed on provided a high-quality or made-to-purpose sprayer is used. Be aware that the drying time is not 4 hours. Double-check the weather forecast and budget at least 12 hours and preferably a full 24 hours, or you may be in for a jarring surprise. Any residue left behind can be brushed away with a stiff brush.
This ‘Natural’ variant has no inherent colour but it darkens just a touch. It has an excellent finish and leaves the wood looking ‘healthier,’ and is a very good choice for restoring dry, cracked or worn-out wood. It is not particularly long-lasting; in normal British weather it is good for about a year.
For all its various attributes coupled to its very low price, Ronseal’s Ultimate Protection ‘Natural’ is our Value Pick.
- Very good for restoring dry and worn-out wood without imparting any additional colour to it.
- Properly waterproofs wooden surfaces.
- Extremely low price for 5 litres of such good quality oil.
- Frequent rain or damp may cause the oiled surface to become tacky.
- Takes an unusually long time to dry.
Though costly, Osmo’s 430D oil gives a clear finish, covers a large area, and guards against mould and fungus, but verily stands out in slip-proofing decks.
Osmo’s Anti-Slip Clear Decking Oil is sold in 2.5-litre cans. This decking oil is positioned as having anti-slip properties and also as ‘protect[ing] against mould, algae and fungal attack.’
Not only does Osmo’s oil give you an anti-slip deck, your feet get a good grip on the wood after applications of this oil. The anti-slip protection appears to derive from polymer microbeads which contribute to a satin-matte finish that feels somewhat like emery paper to the touch. It remains non-slippery even when wet as water beads and pools on the surface.
This multi-purpose oil also protects against fungus and mould partly because it seals the surface of the wood and partly because it has mild biocidal properties.
The claim that ‘1 litre covers approximately 24 meter square’ is another somewhat exaggerated spec but it does cover a bigger surface area than other oils.
It can be applied with a brush and just as easily with a standard 4-inch roller.
Purely an oil, Clear Decking Oil 430D contains no pigments so it gives no UV protection. It can be applied as a topcoat over stained wood and also as a clear finish on bare wood. One coat of stain and one of Osmo anti-slip Clear Decking Oil would be a smart combination.
However, if you want to retain the natural look of the wood without interfering with it in any way and only want to protect the wood and obtain an anti-slip surface, this decking oil is perfect.
Though this product is costly, especially for a neutral, clear oil, it is the best choice if slip-proofing and safety from falls are the primary considerations.
- Unmatched anti-slip properties really guard against slips.
- Protects wood against fungus and mould.
- Litre-for-litre, covers a relatively large surface area.
- Quite costly.
- Does not provide ultra-violet protection.
Though it doesn’t protect decking, Wo-We’s Douglas fir oil is easiest to apply, it brings out grain and texture in a lovely finish – and even smells nice!
Cost: Price not available
Wolfgruben Werke’s contradictorily-named product ‘Douglas Fir Oil Hardwood Cedar Oil’ comes in 5-litre cans. Though both fir and cedar are softwoods, fir is a strong, tough wood that is suitable and much-used for building and construction.
This oil is meant for most all outdoor furniture and wooden structures – hot tubs, pergolas, fences, you name it. As Wo-We note, this oil is suitable for various woods, including cedar, eucalyptus, and acacia. It is ‘made to order’ for Douglas fir, shading it ever so slightly.
Wo-We’s decking oil protects against UV rays. It permeates deep into wood and, though it is not meant for waterproofing per se, it also protects against water and moisture which merely bead up on the surface. An unusual plus point in its favour is that it has a nice smell (or scent) that is somewhat refreshing or stimulating.
The manufacturer’s rating of 5 litres sufficing for one coat on about 70 square metres is wildly over-optimistic. A 5-litre can will give one coat over 30 to 40 square metres.
It is very easy to apply with a brush or roller, and can also easily be applied with a spray gun.
Its drying time is stated as being ‘approx. 24 hours’ and it takes every hour of the 24 so plan accordingly.
The best feature of Wo-We’s Douglas fir oil is not water-protection, UV-protection or such, though it certainly helps in those areas. We feel that perhaps its best feature is that it does not over-stain or darken much at all but brings out the grain and texture of the wood. As such, one probably should not choose this oil for functional reasons but for aesthetic ones.
- Very good at bringing out the grain and texture of the wood.
- Easy to apply not only with a brush but also with a spray gun.
- One of the best-smelling – or best-scented – decking oils!
- Does not provide a non-slip surface.
- Does not protect against mould or fungus.
Insufficient mixing can result in a poor finish but if well-mixed, Rustin’s textured all-wood oil guards against mould, and also provides slip resistance.
Cost: Price not available
Rustin’s Textured Decking Oil is supplied in 2.5-litre cans. It is meant specifically for timber decks and walkways but not any particular type of wood.
The manufacturer states that this oil ‘improve the slip resistance in wet and dry conditions’ and this is accurate; in fact, one may even call it ‘anti-slip.’
It protects against ultra-violet light by virtue of absorbing it. It also contains biocide to ward off mould and algae. These substances may induce allergic reactions in sensitive or sensitised persons.
A single coat may be sufficient for your needs but you can apply two or even three coats to obtain a deeper texture and finish. It darkens slightly but without overlaying the natural qualities and grain of the wood.
If this oil is not mixed perfectly and to a ’T’ you may get an unpleasant surprise – it may appear to leave a whitish, fine sand on your decking. You will have to mix and stir this decking oil, which appears to be a type of emulsion, particularly well otherwise the separated components will result in the particulate matter getting left over in the base of the container.
In comparison with other decking oil makers, Rustins’ after-sales surface leaves a lot to be desired.
- All-round, all-purpose oil suitable for decks made of any type of wood.
- Provides very good slip-resistance and makes for an anti-slip surface.
- Protects against mould and algae.
- Must be mixed perfectly otherwise the separated components of the emulsion may result in a useless coat.
- The manufacturer’s after-sales service is quite poor.
How To Apply Decking Oil
Apply decking oil any time of the year from late spring to mid-autumn. Before you start any step check out the weather forecast to ensure you will have a dry, sunny spell with no possibility of rain.
First, thoroughly clean your deck of dust and adhered dirt using a broom, brush, and/or vacuum. Next, pressure wash or ‘jet wash’ your deck. If the deck was previously stained or painted, prepare and use a solution with deck stripper or finish stripper. If you have not used a pressure washer on timber, be aware that it can damage any and all types of wood. Choose a low-pressure setting and a fan or spray nozzle.
After the entire deck is totally dry, if necessary, gently sand the deck with an orbital sander or random orbital sander using an 80- or 100-grit disk. Do not over-sand; the objectives are to level the surface and to open up the pores and grains of the timber.
If the wood is very old, greyed, or weathered, you may want to apply a light coat of decking or wood reviver gel before applying decking oil. Apply it using a stiff-bristled brush or scrubbing brush.
Again, allow the wood to dry completely.
Perturb the closed can of decking oil. Open it, stir it, and pour it out in a clean receptacle that can be closed to minimise evaporation. A fresh lever-lid paint tin is perfect. Scoop out any sticky or congealed residue remaining in the original can and put that in the receptacle. Now stir very thoroughly.
Use a natural bristle brush to apply the decking oil. You may also use a roller. Avoid using synthetic-bristle brushes.
Apply the first coat of decking oil in the direction of the grain with partial overlap between strokes, covering the whole deck in a single operation without any breaks. Let it dry thoroughly; give it about 24 hours. Now apply a second coat that is at a 45-degree angle to the grain of the wood, again doing so in one go. Let it dry for 24 hours.
How To Remove Decking Oil From Concrete
How to remove decking oil from concrete depends on how old or how recent the stain is, how large or how little it is, and what the decking oil’s base is, i.e. oil or water (or some solvent).
You may need to experiment to get the best results. Two easy methods that give good results are outlined below.
As you will be using harmful chemicals make sure to wear gloves and goggles.
The most straightforward method is to pour generous quantities of liquid laundry detergent and vinegar together directly on the stain, entirely covering the stain. Let it ’stew’ for about 30 minutes. Then pour very hot water on the spot as you scrub it with a stiff brush (which should have a long handle).
A multi-step method requires two chemical compounds. Make a sufficient quantity of 1:16 solution of oxygen cleaner aka ‘oxygen bleach’ (like OxiClean). Pour it on the stain and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Then scrub vigorously with a scrubbing brush, and rinse away with water. Then pour paint thinner aka mineral spirit directly on the stained area. After about five minutes, scrub it, as you gently pour a lighter layer of thinner while continuing to scrub.
Immediately hose away the thinner, and wait for the patch to dry.If necessary to lift any residue, pour a small quantity of the oxygen cleaner solution, scrub, and wash it away.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.