How to Oil Decking (Step by Step Guide)

If you want your deck to stay looking great all year round, it is important that you take care of it properly.

Decking is a great way to improve the look of your backyard. It can make a great spot to entertain friends and family, or just to sit back and relax.

In this article, we cover everything you need to know about oiling your deck to keep it looking its best.

Why oil your deck?

Deck 1 | BBQs and Outdoor Dining

Timber decking is susceptible to damage from the elements, especially if it has been exposed for long periods of time. UV radiation, water damage and mould can ruin your decking in no time at all.

Regularly oiling your deck will help prevent cracking and splitting while protecting against water damage caused by rain or snow.

By protecting it from the elements, oil reduces the potential for rot, warping and splitting and prevents algae growth in shady spots.

When should you oil your deck?

To preserve your timber deck, it is good practice to oil it at least once per year.

This is especially important if you live in a harsh climate or if the deck gets a lot of foot traffic.

If you are unsure whether your timber deck needs some attention, here are three key things to look for:

  1. Does my timber deck look tired and worn?
  2. Do I spend a lot of time on my timber deck (this includes kids or pets)?
  3. Is my timber deck exposed to harsh weather conditions?

It’s best to oil the deck in late summer or early autumn when the weather is mild, and the sun and rain can be anticipated.

If possible, avoid oiling the deck during winter when there are fewer hours of sunlight. If you must do it during winter, ensure that there are at least two days of dry weather predicted.

It is better to wait until after a dry spell of weather, as this helps to ensure that no water will be trapped below the surface of the timber.

It is recommended that you wait at least 48 hours after rain before you start oiling your deck so that it has enough time to completely dry out (although some decking oils do require a damp surface, so this will differ based on your product).

Types of deck oils

There are two types of penetrating oils:

  1. Natural oils like linseed and tung; and
  2. Synthetic oils which have greater UV protection properties.

Both types will waterproof timber and protect it against the elements; however, if you live near salt water or in a high traffic area (such as around a pool), we recommend using a synthetic oil.

Whichever you choose, make sure it’s suitable for exterior use on decking boards – not all penetrating oils are designed for this purpose.

How to oil a deck

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Materials needed

You’ll need a bucket, gloves, deck cleaner, deck oil, a 50 mm paintbrush, and a larger oil or paint applicator.

1. Preparation

Make sure the weather’s going to be good for the whole day of oiling and for at least the next 2 days (check your specific product for how long it needs to dry).

Be sure that the area you’re working on is well ventilated.

Remove all outdoor furniture from the deck and sweep away any debris.

Important: Some decking oils require a damp surface while others are best applied when the surface is dry. It’s important to check the prescribed preparation requirements of your specific product.

2. Clean the deck

If your oil requires a damp surface, use a hose to wet the entire deck. This should also wash off any remaining dust or debris.

Clean your deck using napisan or a specialised deck cleaning product.

Rinse again using a pressure washer to ensure all product is removed from the surface.

3. Mix your oil

Mix up your decking oil in a clean bucket according to instructions provided by the manufacturer. Add water to dilute the oil as required.

Ensure the oil is mixed thoroughly for even application.

4. Apply your deck oil

Use the large applicator to apply oil to the deck. For any hard to reach places, or where you don’t want to get the oil on a surrounding surface, use the paintbrush.

Try to smoothly apply the oil to each section of boards, without stopping. This will reduce the chances of there being visible lines from the oil.

Let the oil dry then apply your second coat (if applicable).

Deck care tips

  • Keep timber clean and free of debris
  • Inspect the timber regularly for signs of wear and tear
  • Clean any stains with a mild detergent as soon as possible
  • For decks in very poor condition, you may need to sand them first
  • For best results, apply two coats of oil
  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Cover up plants, furniture, and anything else you don’t want to get oil on
Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY and is always looking for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking meals with produce harvested from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.


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