A good decking oil will nourish the wood and protect it from the weather and from anything the weather can throw at it, such as pollutants and contaminants.  Some decking oils have added UV filters to protect against the ageing effects of sunlight.  The key to success is to choose the right decking oil for your type of decking and the results you want.  Here are some tips.

Best Decking Oil UK

Check if your decking is softwood or hardwood

In spite of the name, soft woods like fir, larch pine and spruce can be very durable, but in order to make them last, you really need to give them heavy-duty protection against weathering in general and water ingress in particular.  Hard woods have more natural robustness, but they still benefit from good protection.

Pro tip, softwood decking can have decking oil applied straight away.  Hardwood decking, however, is naturally oily and it is therefore generally best to leave it to season for a while (basically dry out) before applying decking oil.  If you apply the decking oil too soon, it may be “pushed out” by the natural oil and end up pooling on the top of the boards, which is not only a waste of good decking oil but also a slipping hazard.


Decide if you want clear decking oil or coloured decking oil

Clear decking oils aren’t totally transparent, they tend to deepen the natural colour of the wood slightly, giving it something of a “wet” finish.  Coloured decking oil isn’t as strongly-pigmented as stain or paint, but it can be enough to brighten up tired decking, while still making it fairly easy for you to “back out” if you change your mind later.  Coloured decking oil also tends to have more UV protection than clear decking oil due to the pigment in the oil.

Decking Oil Colours

Decking oil colours tend to be both fairly limited in range and fairly muted in shade.  For example, you will typically get various wood colours, greys, greens and blacks.  You are unlikely to get the range or intensity you would get from using paint, so if you’ve set your heart on having the most Instagrammable decking in town, then you might want to pass on oil and pay for a good decking paint.  It will probably be (a lot) more expensive, but it will be more likely to get you the result you want.

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Ask yourself if you need (or want) anti-slip decking oi

Anti-slip decking oil is exactly what the name suggests.  It has fine particles suspended in it to give extra grip (and hence reduce the chance of slipping).  If you (or your children) walk on it in bare feet, it can feel a bit like walking on sandpaper, so it may not be ideal if your decking is the place where children play in summer.  On the other hand, it may be invaluable if you regularly need to walk over the decking when it’s raining.

When is a decking oil not a decking oil?

Some of the products marketed as “decking oil” are actually water-based.  They can still do a perfectly solid job, they will just not sink into the wood as much.  This means that they are unlikely to offer the same level of protection, so may be better for hardwoods than softwoods, but it also means that they will dry much more quickly.

5 best paint your deck with

Decking Oil Review

Here is our round up of what we think are the best decking oils on the UK market based on a combination of performance and price, in other words, overall value for money. 

Bartoline Boiled Linseed Oil 5L

If you’re looking for the most environmentally-friendly solution you can get, then this is the top performer.  It will nourish your wood just about as well as “proper” decking oils and it’s also fairly good at waterproofing them.  It is not, however, anything like as good at protecting against mould and other hazards, so you will need to clean your decking very regularly, otherwise it will rot and need to be replaced and this will rather undo the environmental benefits of using this rather than regular decking oil.

Cuprinol 2.5L Anti Slip Decking Stain

Cuprinol 2.5L Anti Slip Decking Stain - Vermont Green

Although this review is focused on decking oil, we’ve chosen to include this decking stain for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it’s the most protective decking stain we’ve found and secondly, it’s available in a range of finishes from natural wood colours to regular colours.  Basically this tends to be the product of choice for people who would prefer to use decking oil, but who need to give tired decking a little bit of a boost.

Cuprinol Uv Guard Decking Oil Exterior Woodcare, Natural Oak


First, the bad news, this product is relatively expensive and even so, doesn’t provide that much coverage.  Now, the good news, once you get it on, it does a great job.  Not only is it UV resistant, it is also great at keeping out water and even though it’s not actually marketed as anti-slip it does offer very decent grip.  Basically, a lot of gardeners just won’t use anything else and we can see why.

Everbuild EVBLJCR05 Wood Preserver Clear 5 Litre


This isn’t actually a decking oil, however we’ve included it because you may want to use it together with a decking oil or stain, like the Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking Stain.  Basically this is a wood preserver.  It’s intended to nourish wood and that is it.  It does not add colour (it really is clear, in fact it looks and acts a lot like water) nor does it waterproof timbers.  It does, however, have numerous uses, such as going under other products (which is how it’s intended to be used) or “topping up” decking oil in summer to give wood extra moisture.

Ronseal Decking Oil Natural 4 Litre


In terms of performance, this product is outstanding and it gives a beautiful finish.  It does,  however, take a long time to dry (often a lot longer than the manufacturer’s guidance says it should) and while it is drying, it’s a hazard to animals (especially cats) and children.  In short, if you are sure neither of the above will have any chance of getting onto your decking while this is drying, it’s great stuff, otherwise, honestly, it’s safer to avoid it.

Decking Oil Review – Results

As is generally the case, there’s really no “one-size-fits-all” solution, but if we had to pick one product above all the others it would be the Cuprinol Uv Guard Decking Oil.

Best Decking Oil UK

The reason the Cuprinol Uv Guard Decking Oil takes this one is because of its combination of all-round performance and safety, which we think justifies its price tag.  We do, however, think that the other products on our list could be the best choices in certain situations, which is why we included them.

Decking Oil Applying guide

Applying decking oil

Once you’ve chosen your decking oil, the next step is to apply it.  The key to success here is to apply it to clean, dry decking.  Both points are important.  This means that your first step is to remove any surface debris. 

Your second step is to clean the decking so that, in principle, you could eat your dinner off it.  Obviously we’re not recommending this, but the point is that any dirt, fungus, mould, algae or anything else has to be removed.  This is probably going to require at least one application of a proper decking cleaner.  Never use a standard household cleaner as these will strip the oil from the boards, which is exactly the opposite of what you want and over time is likely to damage them.

Then let your decking dry for as long as it needs.  If you rush this, the oil won’t be able to take hold properly.

Generally, an average deck with require two coats of decking oil and this is what most manufacturers will recommend on their cans.  For the most part, it is at best a waste of time and decking oil to try to apply more.  At worst it will create a slipping hazard as the decking oil pools on the surface.  If, however, decking is really dry, might want to try a patch test of a thin third coat and if this is absorbed properly, go ahead and paint the rest.

For the sake of completeness, if the decking is seriously bad then you might want to use a proper wood preserver before you apply your first coat of decking oil.

Assuming you’re taking care of your decking regularly, you will probably find yourself applying fresh decking oil every six months or so, basically spring and autumn are the usual times.  Obviously, there is nuance here, for example, if you hardly use your decking then the decking oil will probably last longer and vice versa, but that’s a rough guideline.

For the sake of completeness, decking oil will only be absorbed if it is applied directly onto wood.  In other words, if you try applying it on top of other coatings such as stain or paint, then you will just be wasting your time and money.Save 0