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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

Decking oil: How to transform a tired deck

Updated: Jun 11


Newly oiled deck

Looking to rejuvenate your outdoor space with a DIY decking restoration project? Look no further than decking oil! With its big impact and easy application, decking oil provides long-lasting protection while enhancing the appearance of wooden decks. How do I know this? Because we have a large deck that I stupidly didn't maintain properly for a couple of years, so needed a super-effective and easily achievable process to revamp it and found decking oil was amazing. There were a couple of downsides of the specific product I used which I'll cover shortly, but decking oil is such a good idea because of its nourishing properties. 


What is decking oil?


Decking oil is a protective coating for outdoor wooden decking. It penetrates the wood to enhance its colour, protect against weathering, and prolong its lifespan by shielding it from sunlight, moisture, and wear, offering a protective finish. It differs from decking stain, where the primary focus is to change the colour of the decking boards rather than nourish them. You can get clear decking oil or coloured, so it doesn't have to be ruled out if you want to inject some colour to your tired old deck.  


Ronseal decking oil 

Before and after decking oiled

I've always used Ronseal decking oil on our deck. Initially, because it was on offer in B&Q, but I was really happy with how it performed with the exception of the smell (more on that in a minute). They say, "Nourish and protect your decking while leaving a lightly tinted finish. Rainproof in only two hours and ready for a second coat in only six hours. Our Nourishing Decking Oil stops water from seeping in and damaging your deck. It also protects against the sun and stops it from turning grey." Source: Ronseal


Decking drying after cleaning
Deck drying after cleaning

Benefits of solvent-based decking oil


  • Provides water resistance

  • UV resistant

  • Prevents mould, mildew and fungi

  • Nourishes decking, which should reduce cracking, splitting and warping



Negatives of solvent-based decking oil


  • High V.O.C - I found the smell VERY strong despite being outside and the neighbours even noticed it. 

Can you get water-based decking oils? 


Yes! I wish I had bought the Ronseal Ultimate Protection decking oil as it is water-based and low VOC so it wouldn't have created the same stink for my poor neighbours 


How to clean decking


Our decking was 2-3 years old and had quite a build-up of dirt. It had play sand in the grooves and mould in the shady places where leaves had fallen and collected. Therefore, the clean-up operation was far more intense than would be needed for a relatively new or well-kept deck. I tried a couple of cleaning products and found them to be equally effective but massively different in price, so check this out if you are on a tight budget. 


You will need


tools and materials for cleaning and oiling a deck laid out

  • pressure washer & hosepipe

  • cleaning solution

  • decking oil

  • stiff brush

  • soft paintbrush / decking pad

  • gloves




Here's how I cleaned the decking..

Hose down decking
  • Sweep the boards to remove any debris, especially any sand that might be stuck in the cracks.

  • Wet the decking with a hose

  • Apply decking cleaner of choice

  • Brush cleaner into the decking, getting into the grooves and removing the surface layer of grime. I used a long-handled stiff broom for this task. 

  • Allow the cleaner to soak

  • Rinse the decking off with a jet wash. Take care not to hold the nozzle close to the decking boards, as the pressure of the washer can damage them and cause splinters. 

  • Allow to dry,

  • Repeat the above process in areas which don't come up clean enough.

  • Allow to fully dry before applying decking oil. 


Decking cleaning products


Initially, I used the Ronseal decking cleaner, but it was really expensive, so when I ran out, I was reluctant to buy another one. Instead, I tried Fairy Platinum washing up liquid diluted in a bucket of water which was just as effective for only a few pence in cost. 


Note: Both of these products contain chemicals - the decking cleaner has a range of hazardous ones which might put people off. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have bought it if I'd researched the ingredients properly. It also smells which might be another concern. If you have small children or animals, or a patch of beautiful grass near the decking you are cleaning then you might want to opt for a gentler product. The Fairy liquid also contains chemicals and I've stopped buying it in favour of an eco-friendly alternative. If I were to clean the decking today, I'd opt for a combination of baking soda and vinegar which should do the job without any nasty side-effects. 


How to apply decking oil

Decking being oiled

Before applying the first coat, ensure the surface of the wood is clean and dry, and consider using a high-quality brush for best results. Test a small patch in an area that's not easily visible to check if you like to colour and finish. 


  • Stir the decking oil thoroughly before use

  • Apply the oil using a brush or decking pad, following the grain of the wood for even coverage. 

  • Work in small sections to prevent the oil from drying too quickly.

  • Plan your escape route so you don't end up trapped in a corner and have to walk over your newly oiled deck!

  • Apply decking oil evenly across the entire surface of the deck, including the railings and any exposed edges. 

  • Pay special attention to areas prone to wear and tear, such as high-traffic areas or where the wood is exposed to direct sunlight. 

  • Allow to dry

  • Check for missed spots

  • Apply second coat 


Tips for success with decking oil


  • The best deck oil for no added colour is a clear, microporous finish that allows the wood to breathe while offering a protective barrier against moisture and UV damage.

  • For those looking to add a pop of colour, coloured decking oils are available in a variety of options to suit your taste.

  • Remember to test a small area first and apply thin coats for an even finish. 



Ongoing maintenance for decking oil

After decking being oiled

After applying a protective coat of decking oil, ongoing maintenance is crucial to ensure long-lasting results. Regular cleaning with a mild detergent and water helps maintain the breathable finish and UV-resistant properties of the oil, preventing the risk of swelling due to moisture buildup. Inspect the surface of the deck periodically, especially in high-humidity areas.  For hardwood decking or tropical wood species, using a high-quality brush for application ensures even coverage and penetration of the oil into the wood grain. Good ventilation during application and drying is also essential. When cleaning, avoid using pressure washers at a close distance, as they can damage the surface coatings and previous finishes. Instead, opt for a decking cleaner specifically formulated for wooden decking (or baking soda & white vinegar, as discussed above). By following these maintenance practices, your wooden decking will maintain its natural colour and appearance for years to come, making it the best option for your outdoor space. 


With regular maintenance and the right decking oil, your outdoor oasis will be ready for anything, from children's toys to heavy foot traffic, while maintaining its natural beauty for years to come.


Choosing a great decking oil is essential for preserving garden furniture and exterior wood surfaces. Look for water-resistant options with high amounts of natural extractives and UV filters for maximum protection.


Where next?


Here are some other garden-related posts that you might enjoy...


Paths & Patios



Rockery & driveway



Storage



Decking




1 Comment


Tannu Rawat
Tannu Rawat
Jun 12

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