Your questions about decking treatment answered

We get a lot of customers asking questions about why they need to treat their decking and if they need to treat it at all so I thought I’d try to answer some of the more common questions for you here. I’ve also tried to give solutions to some of the common problems caused by high street products peeling and flaking. If you have any more specific questions then feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch with us via email.

My deck is hardwood, do I need to treat it?

The simple answer is yes you definitely do! Whilst hardwood is denser in structure than softwood, it can still take on water and will be subject to movement when exposed to the elements which can lead to cracks and warping. Protecting the wood with a saturating wood treatment will prevent this – whether it’s hardwood or softwood.

What is the best finish for my deck?

The most effective way to protect your deck is to use a product which does not form a film on the surface of the wood. Most high street products create a thin layer on the surface of the wood which over time (not much time in heavy traffic areas like decks!) begin to rub away leading to peeling and flaking and the wood lo longer being protected. These products then also need to be removed before reapplying which it time-consuming and laborious. More effective products are those which penetrate the wood and saturate it – this means they are protecting the wood from within and therefore can not peel or flake. Owatrol’s Textrol is a saturating wood oil whilst Aquadecks is a water-based penetrative wood finish, both of which have easy ongoing maintenance with no need to sand or remove the existing coats.

What is mill glaze and do I need to remove it?

Mill glaze gives a shiny finish on new timber and is caused by the combination of wood oils and resins as well as the planing blade during manufacture. Unfortunately the presence of mill glaze prevents almost any finish from penetrating the surface of the wood as it effectively closes the pores and by the time the pores open again naturally after several months the timber will have already been damaged by the effects of weathering and moisture. You must remove mill glaze before treating your wood in order for the finish to be able to penetrate the surface. To remove mill glaze use Owatrol’s Prepdeck in a 50:50 dilution and water and scrub it into the surface with a brush. Rinse it after 30 minutes and then apply a 25:75 mix of Net-Trol to clean and neutralise the surface leaving it ready to apply a finish. We would then recommend using Textrol or Deks Olje D1 saturating wood oils or Aquadecks or SCS for a water-based finish or you could use a finish of your choice.

How can I stop my deck from splitting and moving?

When new timber is first exposed to the elements it expels its naturally occurring moisture very rapidly as well as absorbing and releasing moisture from its environment. This process is called ‘transfer of moisture’ and can leave some very damaging effects if not regulated. For this reason, we would always recommend using our unique solution Seasonite for new timber as it controls the transfer of moisture and prevents movement and splitting.

What can I do if my decking is flaking?

Sadly this is an all-too-common issue and is caused by film-forming high street products which are not suitable for decking as they can so easily begin to flake or peel. Unfortunately the only option if to remove the finish entirely and start again but there are 2 ways to do this. You could either sand the entire area back to the bare wood – but this can take days and is very laborious! We would recommend a using stripping agent such as Owatrol’s Prepdeck to remove flaking finish from the deck and then Net-Trol to neutralise the effects before refinishing. Prepdeck will remove any previous varnish, paint or stain in a single application and Net-Trol will then neutralise the surface ready to be refinished. We would recommend a saturating wood finish as these penetrate the wood and protect from within so they will not peel or flake.

My decking was treated last year but it is starting to peel – should I sand it back?

Yes you could sand the deck back but you would need to remove all traces of the coating which is very laborious and if you wanted to apply a penetrative finish you would need to clean all of the dust from the pores of the wood. A simpler solution would be to Prepdeck stripper followed by Net-Trol to strip the wood and clean the pores ready for applying a finish as this will give a better result in much less time!

Should I buy pre-stained deck boards?

There does seem to be a growing trend towards buying pre-stained deck boards and it can save time but you need to be careful because they are generally stained with film-forming products which are not ideally suited to decking as they can peel and flake. If you can ensure that your deck boards are pre-stained with a penetrative product which protects the wood from within and does not form a film then pre-staining will certainly save time and ensure an even finish. Owatrol can offer industrial coatings and have arrangements in place for the spraying of these as well – be sure to ask what product your deck will be pre-sprayed with before agreeing as you don’t want to have to remove it and start again if it peels or flakes after a year or so!

There are a huge number of products available now for treating wood surfaces and it is understandably sometimes difficult to figure out which is best for you. One thing we would always recommend though is to get the best quality product you can right from the beginning. It may cost more in the short term but in the medium and long term it will save you both time and money and preserve your wood for years to come.

You can read my original list of questions here on The Decking Network.

Gary Coniam
About Gary Coniam

Gary is the Managing Director of Owatrol UK Ltd and is in charge of the day to day marketing and sales for the company. You can reach Gary on Twitter or meet him in person at any of the many expos he attends.

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9 thoughts on “Your questions about decking treatment answered

  1. We have just bought soft wood decking,I don’t want to change the colour but would like to treat it,what would you recommend please?

    1. Hi Loraine,

      As your decking is new we would suggest using Seasonite new wood treatment this year to control and regulate the wood over its first year. Applying a finish at this stage is not the best plan as new wood can prevent finishes from being adequately absorbed and therefore prevent your decking from being properly protected. We would then recommend that next year you clean the decking with Net-Trol wood cleaner before applying Textrol penetrating wood oil to protect it.

      If you have any further questions please get in touch.

      Thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  2. We fitted a Lyptus hardwood deck last year and treated it with (a lot of!) Owatrol Deks Olje. However, the deck has now unfortunately greyed and I am looking for a solution to restore it to its previous glorious colour.

    From your website it seems I should probably have used an Aquatrol / Aquadecks treatment, not the Deks Olje? If I now use NetTrol followed by Aquadecks will this protect the deck colour for a year – I am happy to re-apply once or twice a year as needed.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Firstly apologies for the delay in response, your message was for some reason caught in our spam filter. Unfortunately when using a wood oil your deck will always grey eventually due to UV exposure. To clean it and restore its natural colour you would use Net-Trol wood cleaner and colour restorer.

      If you’re looking for a finish with a longer-lasting colour then you have a few options. If you want to stick with a saturating wood oil then we would recommend using D1 Pro in Honey tint. This will keep your wood from going grey for longer than standard Deks Olje D1. If you’re happy to have a semi-transparent finish instead then we would highly recommend Tropitech for the most longevity (often not needing maintenance for 5 years plus). You could use Aquadecks instead but we would recommend Tropitech if you’re looking for longevity.

      If we can be of any further help please do ask.
      The Owatrol Team

  3. Just finished applying Seasonite on my larch deck and despite the forecast stating there would be no rain lo and behold….. it rains!!! A series of light showers not a major down pour but the instructions said do not apply if it is going to rain within 24 hours. What if it does?

    1. Hi Nick,
      I believe Gary has been in email conversation with you about your problem but wanted to post an answer here as well as it may be relevant for customers in the future too.

      The answer very much depends on how heavy the rain was, how long the rain lasted and how soon after applying the Seasonite it rained.

      If the rain was very light, only for a short period and there is no discolouration in the wood, usually denoted by spots or areas that have a milky appearance then all should be fine.

      If however the rain was heavy and within 12 hours of applying the Seasonite then it is highly likely that some of the Seasonite will have been washed out especially if it was only a short time after applying it. Alternatively as stated above areas of the wood may have taken on a milky appearance if the Seasonite had partially dried before the rain started. In this case there are a number of options.

      1 – If the rain was heavy and arrived shortly after application then it is likely that some or all of the Seasonite will have been washed out or at the very least thinned. In this case a further applications will overcome the problem and restore protection
      2 – If you have areas that have a milky appearance then this indicates that the Seasonite was not quite dry before the rain arrived and it has reconstituted the Seasonite. In this case the Seasonite will still be offering some protection but with reduced effectiveness as the product will have been thinned and not penetrated the wood fibres sufficiently. You can either leave the affected areas as they are, they will disappear as the wood is exposed to UV rays or you can leave it until the milkiness has disappeared and apply a LIGHT top up application, this would usually be within 2-3 months.

      I trust the above helps but if you need anything else please do not hesitate to contact us.
      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

  4. Hi Mark,

    In response to your email, no you won’t necessarily be faced with the greying problems next year by using Aquadecks, you just would have got more longevity with Tropitech. Aquadecks will need maintenance applications every couple of years and the wood will grey over time.

    Any further help needed please let us know.
    The Owatrol Team

  5. I have just stripped my hardwood. Decking.I am looking for a treatment that will keep the natural colour.Can you recommend please.
    Thanks

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you for your query.
      We would recommend you use a product such as Textrol for this purpose – https://www.owatroldirect.co.uk/product/textrol/

      Textrol is a penetrating wood oil finish suitable for exterior softwood and hardwood. It is a penetrative product which saturates the wood to protect it from within – as there’s no film on the surface it will not peel or flake.
      Textrol enhances the natural beauty of the wood whilst providing a mildew-resistant finish with exceptional and long-lasting protection from the effects of moisture, weathering and UV rays. It is applied wet-on-wet which saves time as you don’t need to wait for coats to dry during application and the maintenance is easy with local touch-ups.

      It is available in 7 different shades including clear, which will simply enhance the natural beauty and colour of the wood.

      I hope this answer was helpful, please don’t hesitate to contact us further should you require any more assistance.

      All the best,
      The Owatrol Team

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