Decking Oil – Application and Product Reviews

Cleaning and restoring timber using deck cleaner and oil based coatings requires a little thought, do you use an oil based product or a water based acrylic one ? . We look at and review application methods for decking oils, choosing the right one is the key to success, as is using the right equipment.

We here many stories of ‘sticky decking oil’ and ‘footprints on the new deck’. The latest problem is build up with some acrylic products. With so many products on the market choice can be a little confusing, we look at methods and products.

Timber Deck before cleaning

Decking Oil Review – Timber deck before oiling and cleaning

New timber decks do not present the same issues as older, neglected ones. We do suggest leaving a new deck for 2 – 3 months before oiling to allow it to dry properly, ask your builder if in doubt.Restoring an older timber deck is not really a project to start if you do not have the time, and the weather is not right. Just brushing on and washing off some deck cleaner is not enough. We tell you how to avoid some of the pitfalls.
If you have a timber deck that has not been oiled, or has been coated with a decking oil, this is the process to restore old graying wood to a stage where it can be oiled, sealed or stained.

And if after reading this it looks a little daunting, a few professional deck cleaning contractors can do the job for you. They will use similar equipment, just heavier duty and a lot quicker. These professionals will also seal, stain or oil your newly cleaned deck for you.

Review of decking oils.

Our Decking Oil Reviews have led us to a few conclusions. We have trialled, a reviewed a few of these and despite ‘advances’ in technology we keep coming back to the oil based products. In our opinion they are easier to use, easier to re coat and can generally be cleaned back before re coating with napisan. We have had problems with some of the acrylic based products in terms of a film building up after recoating also with proper drying, and remaining sticky.
At present we are using Haymes ‘Simply Wood Care’ decking Oil. 3 coats on an old uncoated deck that was cleaned back and it looks great. We re-coat in late summer to autumn and again in spring, just one coat for the re coat and it is quick and easy.


Deck cleaner is not a ‘magic’ product, you will need to have access to the right equipment.

  • High pressure cleaner (Karcher, Gerni etc)
  • Stiff broom
  • Bucket to mix deck cleaner in
  • Deck cleaner – Napisan, Cabots, Feast and Watson and others
Using a high pressure washer to clean a deck

Pressure washer to clean a deck

Use high pressure cleaners carefully, test on a small section to make sure you are not damaging the timber.

Choice of cleaner
For decks that have been oiled or never coated
For those that have have had an oil based product used (usually a combination of linseed oil and mineral turpentine) you need to clean the surface of any grime and dirt before commencing.
For decks in good condition often a good scrub down clean water or maybe with some added napisan will do nicely.
Those that have been neglected may require a deck cleaning product, Cabots, Feast and Watson and others.
Read the label, some are stronger than others, some work using oxalic acid, others use hydrochloric acid as well.

Before you get out the deck cleaning gear

  • choose an overcast day, or start early in the morning
  • clear the deck of all furniture
  • remove any paint, grease or other build up with a paint scrapper or sharp blade

Cleaning Procedure
We like to commence with a high pressure

Review of timber deck cleaner before applying decking oil

Review of deck cleaning procedure before applying oil

cleaner, this will remove a lot of dirt build up. But take care, high pressure cleaners can also loosen and damage wood grain.

  • decide if you need just a gentle clean (napisan) or the heavy artillery (proprietary deck cleaners) And follow the instructions
  • Mix the deck cleaner according to instructions
  • Apply using a stiff brush, and brush well
  • Leave for the recommended time (usually about 20 min’s)
  • If the deck begins to dry, dampen with a fine mist spray
  • Clean off deck cleaner with a high pressure spray

Once the area is dry, check the results, it will look different dry to wet and the dry look is easier to judge. You may then need to repeat the process.
For decks that have had an acrylic based decking oil
These are a relatively new product, and from our experience tend to leave a build up, or film that needs to be removed. It seems that you need to sand these back after a few coats, rather than clean gently with napisan.
Why is sanding a problem ? All nails need to be punched, it really requires a professional sander, and it wears the timber.

Decking oil is still tacky or sticky after application.

This is usually because the oil has been applied to thickly and therefore has not dried. Often this happens with the second coat where the surface of the timber has been partly sealed by the first coat. The second coat when applied needs to be thinner as a film on the top of this coat will dry quickly and the layer beneath can not soak into the timber quickly enough.
Temperature, humidity and sunlight all can affect drying time, warm weather will speed drying, cool weather or humidity will slow it. Sunlight will speed drying, shade will slow it. So all of these factors need to be taken into account when seeing how long your newly oiled deck will tack to dry.
So ensure that any excess oil is wiped off when applying each coat to prevent the deck drying to slowly and therefore being tacky or sticky.
Some recommend, thinning the second coat with a little mineral turpentine to help with drying. Consult with the manufacture before modifying products.
Areas of decking in shade will take longer to dry than those in sun.
Try to apply a thinner second coat, leave to dry slowly over a few days, longer in cool weather.
Footprints on decking, again this is from the oil not being dry yet, the footprints will easily wash away with no damage.
Scratches can be repaired by using a soft cloth dipped in the oil and rubbing a little into the surface.
So that is it for our Decking Oil Review, although we will be updating when we next re-coat our oiled deck.