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What is the best way to treat decking?

Summer has landed! The sun is out, the grass is green and it’s that time of year we want our gardens looking their best for summer get-togthers, BBQs and snoozy Sundays lapping up the vitamin D.

Often there are lots of garden odd jobs to do, and if you have a deck, giving your decking a little TLC is likely to be one of them. After a good sweep and clean, you may be scratching your head and wondering if it needs something that bit more… And, you’re right to be thinking that.

decking stain

A key part of deck maintenance is treating your deck. But what does that really mean? What are the best decking treatment products to use? And, how do you actually go about treating your deck?

There are lots of questions to be answered about deck treatment and it’s not surprising considering how many different types of deck oils, stains and treatments are on the market. It can be difficult to suss out what you need to use.

Fear not. If you’re new to decking maintenance, you can find everything you need to know about deck treating in this blog. We’re giving you a full guide to decking treatments and stains so that you can suss out what the best course of action is when it comes to maintaining your deck.

First things first; should a wood deck be treated?

Many people wonder if using deck treatments such as oils and stains is really necessary. You’ve got to remember that timber is a natural material that deteriorates over time.

Thankfully, oils and stains can help to slow down this process and provide protection from outside elements.

Failing to treat your decking will shorten its lifespan, and there will be noticeable side effects such as rotting, cracking and warping. Decking treatment won’t stop this from happening completely but it will significantly slow down the process, giving you more bang for your buck with a much longer-lasting and aesthetically up-together deck.

So yes, we definitely recommend you treat your deck.

When should I treat my deck?

treating your decking
If you’ve just installed a new deck, you’ll be pleased to know that, actually, you don’t really need to do anything for a short while. Most decking boards come pre-treated, or pressure treated, providing some level of initial protection.

This coating needs to weather, before you start splashing oils or stains on the surface. This usually takes around 6 months.

Don’t forget that if you are planning on installing a deck, it’s important to use cut-end preserver on any freshly cut ends that will not be protected by pre-treatments.

If you’re maintaining an older deck, we’d always advise you choose a dry and relatively warm day. Not only does this make the whole experience much better for the person doing the work, but stains and oils will dry much quicker.

Spring and early summer are the perfect times to treat your deck.

We also advise that you set a day or two aside to make sure you do the job properly. This isn’t really something you can rush. From making any repairs and cleaning the deck to sanding off any previous treatment and applying the treatment, all is doable in a day given that you set aside enough time to complete the job.

If you plan on applying a second coat, of course, you’ll need to wait for the first coat to dry. Depending on the product you choose to use, this could take anywhere between 10 and 15 hours. So, do factor this in.

Decking oil

What is decking oil?

Decking oil is a deck sealer designed to penetrate the surface grain of the timber to protect the decking from within. It helps to replace the natural oils found within the timber.

What does decking oil look like?

Decking oils wouldn’t necessarily be used to change the appearance of the deck, however, you should expect that the deck may be darker in appearance after application. Some decking oils come with colour variations, enabling you to stain your deck whilst providing a penetrative, protective treatment.

What are the key benefits of using decking oil?

Oils are a great way to seal and maintain the condition of your deck, preventing cracks, splits and warping.

When to apply decking oil:

Spring and summer are great times to apply decking oil to a deck. Ideally, you should wait between 3 and 6 months before applying decking oil to a newly laid deck. Apply at least once a year, or as and when needed.

How to apply decking oil:

Choose a dry day. Sweep and clean your deck. You may wish to sand your deck to remove any old varnish or stains to ensure even coverage. It’s important that the deck surface is completely dry before applying deck oil evenly with a stiff brush. Allow the first coat to completely dry before applying a second coat.

Our decking oil recommendations:

We stock both Osmo Decking Oil as well as Barrettine All-in-One Decking Oil. Our team would recommend both as quality decking oils.

Osmo Decking Oil provides a microporous finish which enables the timber to breathe and reduces swelling. You don’t need to sand the deck down when topping up the coating. It provides a high water and dirt-resistant teak oil-clear finish.

osmo decking oil

Similarly, the Barrettine Decking Oil is water-repellent and non-flaking. It also provides protection against mould and includes UV fade-resistant pigments.
barrettine decking oil

Anti-Slip Decking Oils

What is anti-slip decking oil?

Decks can be susceptible to algae and moss build-up. Anti-slip decking is designed to create a resistant non-slip surface on the top of the deck. They often contain some form of sand or aggregate to provide additional traction.

What does anti-slip deck oil look like on application?

Similarly to standard decking oils, non-slip decking oil is not designed to change the appearance of the deck, however, you may see some darkening in the timber shade on application.

Benefits of anti-slip decking oil:

Water and moss can make a decking surface slippery. Like standard decking oils, anti-slip decking oils are a great way to preserve the wood, as well as provide an additional non-slip safety measure. It is a great way to maintain the condition of your deck, preventing cracks, splits and warping.

When and how to apply anti-slip decking oil:

An annual treatment is ideal for most decks, however depending on the position of your deck, you may wish to treat it more frequently – for example, if your deck is under a tree dropping lots of debris.

You should always read the label, however, most anti-slip deck treatments are applied with a stiff brush and only require one coat.

Our anti-slip oil recommendation

osmo anti slip decking oil

We’d recommend Osmo Anti-slip decking oil. The great thing about this product is that it is microporous, providing a water and dirt-resistant penetrating finish that does not crack, peel or flake.

Sanding is not necessary when topping up coating. It includes active ingredients that protect your deck against mould, algae and fungal attacks whilst providing a clear, natural finish that ensure the timber deck characters are still visible.

Are oils or stains better for a deck?

decking in garden

Really oils and stains are two different things, but both work to maintain your deck.

Decking oils work to preserve the timber’s condition from the inside, while stains are designed to change the colour of your deck by enhancing the appearance of the timber’s natural grain.

Stains are great if you’re looking to achieve a certain look, and they often provide great UV protection, particularly the darker or thicker the pigment. Oils are used solely to seal and preserve the wood, although some do come with added pigment.

That being said, stains that are oil-based can help to preserve the wood whilst protecting it from the elements and UV rays.

A great example would be creocote, which can be used for a variety of exterior wooden surfaces, including decking. It’s available in a choice of colours and will change the colour of your deck whilst providing a water-repellent finish. Please note, creocote is only available in dark, and is sold for professional use only, not domestic use.

The key takeaway is that both oils and stains can work to protect the timber, but oils typically penetrate deeper while stains create a surface layer of protection. Oils and oil-based sealants are generally the best for waterproofing and renourishing timber. Stains include pigments to enhance the colour of the deck, which in turn provides UV protection but only moderate moisture protection.

What about paint?

Painting a deck is a really simple yet effective way to add an extra touch of colour to a garden.

Sage greens, bold navy blues and even bright pastel pinks and tropical greens seem to be on trend.

While paints do provide some level of UV and moisture protection, it generally doesn’t last as long as stains and oil sealants.

What is the best way to treat a deck?

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to treat your deck:

1. Sweep the deck to remove debris
2. Clean the deck with water and a hard bristle brush
3. Sand off any excess stains
4. Apply a coat of decking oil on a dry deck surface and leave to dry for 12 hours
5. Apply a second coat and allow to dry for a further 24 hours
6. Apply deck stain or paint onto the deck

Shop online for a range of decking and deck maintenance products.

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