How to Oil Decking

Author: | Last Updated: 12 Mar 2022

Maintaining a wood or timber deck can be a little tedious, but it’s worth it to keep your outdoor living space looking great. One of the best ways to maintain your deck is by regularly applying an oil sealant. If this seems like a daunting task, don’t worry, because it isn’t! Re-oiling your deck is simple and should be a part of your regular outdoor maintenance to ensure your deck stays in great shape. If your deck is starting to look a little worn-down, patchy, or discoloured, it’s a sure sign that you need to re-oil it! In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the quick and simple process of oiling your deck.

Why is it important to oil your deck?

Oiling your deck helps protect it from the elements it is exposed to outside. Remember that just by virtue of being an outdoor appendage, your deck undergoes a lot of battering from temperature changes, sun, wetness from rain or snow, and more. By re-oiling it periodically, you help maintain the protective coating on the wood that prevents mould, deterioration, and warping, keeping the integrity and structure of your deck intact. Decking oil creates that protective barrier by penetrating and absorbing deeply into the timber wood, which replaces the natural oils the wood used to have. With the replenished oil, the wood becomes stronger, and the excess oils on the surface eventually form the protective coating. Aesthetically, oiling your deck also gives it that new and shiny look, giving your outdoor hangout spot a classy and polished feel. It is recommended that you oil your deck every 12 months as part of its regular maintenance.

Should you use an oil or a stain?

Most people can get a bit confused or overwhelmed when choosing between a decking oil or a stain. The main difference is that decking oil is first and foremost a protective product, nourishing it from the inside and making it more resistant to the outdoor elements. A stain, on the other hand, is more for visual purposes: it can change the colour of your deck’s timber, but it will not protect it as well as a decking oil would.

Essential Steps for Oiling a Timber Deck

Oiling a deck is a time-consuming process, but the results are well worth it in the end. To ensure the best chance of success, you’ll need to do some preparatory work before you actually get to apply the oil.

Step 1: Check the weather

This may seem silly to note, but it’s very important! Always check the weather on the day you plan to oil your deck. You’ll want a nice dry day so that the oil can freely soak into the timber, but you don’t want it to be a scorcher of a day that the sealant in the decking oil solution will evaporate too quickly. If the weather looks like it’ll rain or be too hot, skip the oiling and find another day to do it.

Step 2: Gather your supplies and tools

Get all your supplies and tools together in one place before you get started on the oiling process. You will need the following:

  • Decking oil of choice
  • A broom or a vacuum
  • A hose or pressure washer and water source
  • Detergent or a commercial deck cleaning solution
  • A stiff cleaning brush
  • Oil applicator: rollers, brushes, or pads with a pole extension for large areas
  • Sandpaper or buffing pad

Step 3: Clean the deck

After preparing your items, you need to prepare the deck itself. Clear it of any furniture, plants, appliances, and other items. Sweep the area with your broom or vacuum it up to ensure you get as clean as possible at this stage. After the “dry clean,” wash the deck using detergent and warm water. Make sure to scrub your deck thoroughly with a stiff-bristled brush to ensure you get all the dirt and dust out from all the nooks of the timber wood. Rinse the deck clean with your pressure washer or hose and allow it to dry. If you notice mould on your deck, follow up your detergent solution with bleach to kill and remove the mould, then rinse well again and let the deck dry.

If you opt to use a commercial cleaning solution, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and use protecting gear such as a tight-fitting mask or gloves as needed. Commercial solutions are very effective at stripping away the old oil on your deck, but it can also cause some harm to humans in the process. With a commercial solution, you might have to wait a longer period of time (one or two days) for the deck to dry before you can proceed with oiling.

Once your deck is clean and dry, you can lightly sand it to smooth out the surface and help the decking oil absorb faster into the wood.

Step 4: Apply the oil

After cleaning, it’s time to apply the oil. Stir the oil well before applying it, and make sure to check the manufacturer’s directions on how long to wait in between coats, and the recommended applicator for the oil brand.

To apply, run the pad, roller, or brush all along the length of one single board, trying not to touch any of the other boards. Do this one board at a time, applying an even coat to every board and using long strokes for the best result. Wait the recommended amount of time for drying before applying a second coat—use less oil with every layer you add, up to three layers if your deck is particularly weathered. Have a rag handy to clean up any spills. Turpentine can also be handy for clean-up, since it can help thin the oil and make it easier to wipe away.

Once the whole deck has been oiled, leave it to dry for a few days. Depending on the weather, you may need to wait one or two days before you can replace the furniture and use your deck again.

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