If you’re tempted to skip oiling your timber deck, think again – oiling provides essential protection from sun, wind and rain which can easily cause long-term damage. Decking oil is a must to ensure your deck both looks fantastic and stays structurally sound for many years to come. But what is the best technique to use when applying oil to your timber deck?
Making the deck oiling process quick and headache-free comes down to selecting the right tools and oils for the job. And with re-application needed every six to twelve months, it’s well worth learning the fastest way to oil a timber deck without compromising on the results.
Want to know the secret to oiling your deck in a single day? Read on to learn the best techniques for fast, effective deck oiling.
Is It Best To Oil Decking Quickly Or Thoroughly?
Decking oil is well-suited to a quick application – as the oils are designed to penetrate the timber, there’s no need to work it in manually or spread the oil too thinly. Of course, you’ll want to make sure all regions of your deck are covered to ensure all-round protection and an even colour, but the application process doesn’t need to be too fiddly.
It’s best to apply your decking oil in long, steady strokes along each board or section – don’t rush the application, or the finish may be uneven, but don’t linger either. Think controlled, smooth movements, and use breaks in the timber boards as natural stopping points. The oil will absorb on its own, so avoid going back and forth to rub the oil into the wood, or you may end up with marks once the oil dries.
However, when it comes to deck oiling, it’s important not to skimp on one crucial step – cleaning your deck thoroughly before you apply oil. Any dust, dirt or grime left on the timber will keep the oil from soaking in and may ruin the look of your deck completely.
Always clean your deck with a sugar soap solution or specialised deck cleaning product and a stiff decking brush, then hose thoroughly and dry before applying an oil or treatment to your deck. If you’re working with older timber, using a deck cleaning solution will help strip back greyed wood and any previously applied treatments before oiling it anew.
Should I Let Decking Oil Dry Between Coats?
Decking oil should always be left to dry before recoating, or the wood will be unable to properly absorb the treatment. However, the recoat time is typically far less than the time it takes to dry completely, and the instructions for your chosen decking oil should specify both dry time and recoat time.
For the second coat, use less oil than the first and soak up any excess with a cotton cloth to reduce drying time. With decking oil, two coats are usually sufficient, but a third coat can be applied for longer-lasting protection.
It can take up to seven days after application for a decking oil to be fully cured, but the deck will be functionally dry well before this.
What Decking Oils Have The Fastest Drying Time?
Colour and finish are important considerations when choosing a decking oil, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard quality or drying time when making your final selection. Some traditional decking products can require 1 to 5 days between coats, so be sure the drying speed fits into your project timeline.
While it may sound like a contradiction, there are many water-based decking oils on the market boasting greater longevity and a much quicker dry time compared to oil-based options. If speed is a priority, it’s worth looking into a water-based decking oil to find out if it’s suitable for your variety of timber.
Fast-drying water-based decking products include:
- Cabot’s AquaDeck – recoat time 1 hour
- Feast Watson Matt Look Decking Oil – recoat time 4 hours, dry time 12 hours
- Intergrain UltraDeck Timber Oil – recoat time 3 hours
- Quantum ECODEX QUIX – recoat time 1 hour, dry time 4 hours
If you’d prefer to stick with an oil-based product, some quick-drying options include:
- Cabot’s Natural Decking Oil – recoat time 6 hours
- Feast Watson Traditional Timber Oil – recoat time 1 hour, dry time 18 hours
- Intergrain Nature’s Timber Oil – recoat time 4 hours
Note that decking oils will be easiest to apply – and fastest to dry – during warm weather. The reverse is true for water-based oil products – applying in cooler weather gets the ideal performance out of these treatments.
What Are The Best Tools To Use For Fast Deck Oiling?
Tackling your deck with a paintbrush in hand will guarantee the process is long and tedious. Using a pole-and-pad style decking applicator is your best bet to make deck oiling fast and easy – and your back will thank you, too! Picking up a proper applicator is the best investment you can make for a relatively painless oiling process.
A pole-and-pad decking applicator is similar to an indoor Swiffer mop, with a replaceable lambswool cover attached to a head and pole. This inexpensive tool will massively reduce the time it takes to oil your deck for a relatively small cost, allowing you to oil two to four boards at a time.
Lambswool is the superior material for applying decking oil – the natural fibres pick up the oil quickly and help to create a smooth, even finish.
For the most precise result, you will need to tape off any walls that run up against your deck and apply the oil to these edges accurately with a brush, just as you would when applying paint. It’s certainly easier to avoid getting the oil on walls and railings than to clean up the stains later, but if you do get any decking oil where it doesn’t belong, tidy up with some turps and a rag. A brush is also helpful to touch up edges and crevices.
It’s recommended you keep a rag and turps on hand to clean up any spills quickly, leaving you free to get on with the job.
Do I Have To Oil My Decking?
Oiling isn’t obligatory for timber decking, but it will require some kind of protective treatment to keep the timber in good condition. Other treatment options for outdoor decks include stains – which will modify the colour of the timber more than an oil – and other sealing products which protect the timber from UV rays and moisture without affecting the colour.
Are There Types Of Timber That Don’t Need Oiling?
It’s a misconception that certain types of timber – such as hardwood – don’t need treating or oiling. Hardwood still absorbs and releases moisture and is prone to the same splitting and cracking as softwood if it isn’t treated. Oiling your timber deck protects your investment and also vastly improves its appearance, preventing greying and weathering from exposure to the elements.
Sam Christie is the owner and operator of Christies landscapes, founded in 2013 Sam and his team of landscapers and designers have many years experience in the landscape construction industry. Over the years they have developed and refined a broad range of skills, qualifications and techniques to deliver outstanding projects throughout the Canberra region.