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Decking oil vs stain: How to treat decking

Learn the difference between staining and oiling and follow out steps on how to treat decking in your home this summer.


By Cleanipedia Team

oil stain on decking
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Key steps

To stain or oil your decking, follow these key steps:

  1. Decking oil vs stain? Either is fine – choose based on how you want your finished deck to look.

  2. Clean your decking thoroughly.

  3. Apply the stain or oil in even strokes, working methodically.

  4. Wait for it to dry and check the finish is as expected.

  5. Enjoy your newly protected decking!

Sealing and treating your decking may be an essential part of caring for it but have you ever thought it sounds more complicated than it needs to be? Well, worry no more! Our guide on treating your decking will offer step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow and discuss how to make the choice of decking oild vs stain when choosing your deck’s treatment.

Clean your hands thoroughly after treating your decking using a gentle but effective handwash – like Dove.


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Decking oil vs stain: Pros and cons

One of the reasons learning how to stain wood can seem difficult is because the terms ‘oiling’ and ‘staining’ are often used interchangeably. In fact, they are different treatments.

There’s no real right or wrong choice – just what’s right for you. Here are some things to think about when choosing what to use when learning how to treat decking:

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  • Staining can change the colour of the decking.

  • Oiling is designed to enhance the current colour of the deck.

  • Stains can be oil- or water-based. Oil-based stains are more durable but dry slower.

How to stain a deck

If you’ve read the above and decided that staining is the best approach for you, here’s how to apply wood stain.

You’ll need: A brush to clean the decking, the wood stain, a roller brush to apply it, and protective clothing.

  1. Before you start, give your decking a good clean to avoid getting any dirt and grime stuck in the decking. Try our tips to using a pressure washer if you have one.

  2. The best way to stain a deck is with a large roller brush as this ensures a steady and even application but you can also use a large brush if you prefer.

  3. Load up the roller or brush carefully – you don’t want to waste the deck stain – and apply in even strokes in the direction of the grain of the wood.

  4. Work carefully from the outside in. Split the work over multiple days if needed.

  5. Once applied, wait for the wood stain to dry. This usually takes around 24-48 hours. You should try to apply the stain on a dry day. If it starts to rain, cover the decking to protect the stain while it drives.

Safety Warning

Decks will be slippery after oiling so make sure they are completely dry before you start using them again.

How to oil a deck

Now you know how to stain a deck, what if you decide you want to oil your deck instead? Here’s how to treat decking with oil.

You’ll need: A brush to clean your decking beforehand, a long-handled microfibre roller, a smaller floor brush for the detailed areas, the oil you’ll be using, and protective clothing.

  1. Test your chosen oil on a small patch first to check you’re happy with the result.

  2. To apply decking oil, you need to follow the same process as applying deck staining.

  3. The main difference is to use a microfibre roller to ensure the deck oil is pushed into the wood rather than remaining on top.

  4. If you don’t have a microfibre brush then you can use small brushes instead.

  5. Make sure you push the oil into all nooks and crannies in the wood grain.

Those are the key things you need to know when it comes to staining or oiling your deck. This is a pretty simple job when you know how so don’t delay, give your decking the VIP treatment in a jiffy.

Originally published