Decking Oil

Decking Oils

Decking oil nourishes, preserves and protects garden decking from weathering, the day to day wear and tear of foot traffic, water, dirt and other surface contaminates.

Types of decking oil

Choosing the right decking oil and the one that best meets your requirements can depend on the type of decking you have, the desired finish, budget, performance and maintenance expectation.


Decking Oil Application | Shutterstock

Decking oil for new decking

Applying a decking oil to new decking is usually straight forward as there is no need to take in to account previous decking treatments or coatings.

While softwood decking can be oiled from new, new hardwood decking boards often need to be allowed to weather for a time before applying a decking oil. Dense exotic hardwoods are naturally oily and have a tight grain. If a decking oil is applied too soon, there’s a chance that it won’t penetrate into the surface of the decking boards. Allowing hardwood decking to weather for several months allows for some of the natural wood oils to dissipate and for the grain of the timber to open up. This allows the applied decking oil to penetrate into the wood grain. Some types of exotic hardwood timber such as Ipe, Yellow Balau, Massaranduba Cumaru, Iroko and of course Teak may require a highly refined or extra thin decking oil such as Osmo Decking Oil for the best results.

Clear decking oil

Clear decking oils are designed to nourish and protect garden decking while retaining the natural character of the timber. Applying a clear decking oil will tend to darken the wood, giving it an almost damp like appearance while enhancing the natural colour and grain of the wood. To get an indication of how decking will look when oiled, simply wipe over a section of the untreated decking with a damp sponge.

Although many clear decking oils contain UV filters to help protect the wood from the greying effects of UV rays from the Sun, Not all do. Clear decking oils with UV filters work like sun tan creams. Although they help to filter UV rays, they don’t stop them. This means that decked areas will naturally turn gey over time, albeit at a much slower rate than decking treated with a non UV resistant decking treatment.


Coloured decking oil

Coloured decking oils are great for changing the appearance and character of wooden decking. Available in a wide range of brands and colours, coloured decking oils are a great way to restore the appearance of old, tired and grey decking. Coloured decking oils tend to offer a higher UV resistance to sun damage because of the colour pigments suspended in the oil.

What is the best decking oil to use?

Deciding on what is the best decking oil largely depends on the individual project, the desired look and performance. Some factors are straight forward such as whether to buy a clear decking oil to retain the natural colour of the deck or a colour tinted oil to add character or to achieve a specific look. Other factors to take in to consideration are do you require UV resistance, protection against mould and algae or a decking oil that offers slip resistance, especially useful on decking steps or decked areas at commercial properties such as pubs and garden centers.

Anti slip decking oils

If you have wooden steps leading to and from decking, consider an anti slip decking oil. These oils contain small particles that bond with the surface of the wood to create a microscopic textured layer that is slip resistant. Perfect for raised decks with steps and decked areas at commercial premises where safety is a top priority.

How and when to apply decking oil

Applying decking oil to new, bare wood decking is quick and easy. Simply follow a few simple rules and your new garden decking will look amazing in no time.

  1. Ensure that the decking to be oiled is clean, dry and free from surface contaminates
  2. Sweep with a stiff broom to remove any lose leaves and other surface debris
  3. Treat any mould or algae (green or black patches in the timber) with a suitable decking cleaner. A second application may be required if the decking is heavily soiled
  4. Apply the decking oil thinly and evenly working the oil in to the surface of the timber – avoid pools of oil on the surface and wipe of any excess
  5. Wait the specified drying time on the tin before applying a second coat

Most decking oils only require two coats. Although there may be a temptation to apply three, four or more coats this can actually cause a number of issues such as.

  • Extended drying times of days or weeks
  • Sticky or tacky surface
  • A surface skin or film that will be easily marked or peeled off

If wooden decking hasn’t been treated for a number of years and is exceptionally dry, it may absorb 3 coats of oil. After applying the recommended amount stipulated on the tin, wait a couple of days and try a thin third coat on a small test patch. If the third coat is absorbed by the deck and dries normally it’s probably ok to apply a thin third coat. If the oil on the test area sits on surface and does not dry or remains sticky after 24 hours, it’s an indication that the wood has taken as much oil as it can and is not ready for more.

When to apply decking oil

Decking oils should only be applied when the air temperature remains above 10 degrees centigrade for a period of several days and nights. Spring, Summer and early Autumn are ideal times to oil decking.

Recommended Decking Oil Products

The following decking oils are available in both clear and coloured variations and are suitable for both soft and hardwood decking.

  • Ronseal Decking Oil: An established decking oil that offers excellent value for money
  • Holzol Decking Oil: A trade quality, all-in-one decking oil suitable for all wooden decking
  • Osmo Decking Oil: A German manufactured, premium grade decking oil suitable for all softwood and hardwood decking
  • Manns UV Decking Oil: A multi-purpose exterior decking treatment. Unique UV formula resists the greying effects of the sun
  • Barrettine Decking Oil: An advanced formula decking oil that nourishes, protects and stains wooden decking

Clear Decking Oils

  • Cuprinol Total Deck: An all-in-one decking restorer and decking oil
  • Rustins Textured Decking Oil: A high quality, clear anti slip decking oil for use on softwood and hardwood decking. Contains Ultra Violet light inhibitors to protect decking from sun damage
  • Osmo Anti-Slip Decking Oil: A high quality, anti-slip decking oil top coat for all garden decking. Perfect for decking steps and decking situated in commercial areas such as pubs and restaurants

Autumn maintenance

Although most people tend to think of oiling decking as a spring only project, it is also recommended to apply a maintenance coat before winter sets in to help protect the decking timbers through the cold, wet months.

When is decking oil not suitable?

Decking oils work by penetrating in to the surface of the decking boards where it oxidizes, dries and hardens. This cannot happen if the decking is already treated with a decking paint or varnish like decking stain. These types of decking treatments seal the surface of the timber with a plastic like film therefore preventing the deck oil from penetrating into the wood.

Decking preservation and cleaning treatments

For information on decking preservation, maintenance and cleaning, see our decking cleaners, restorers and decking preserver pages.