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    How to clean & seal a deck

    A DIY guide to get your deck shining again

    Hannah | Oneflare

    Outdoor decks are a great addition to any home; extending our living spaces and creating a comfortable area to entertain. Decks are an affordable solution and keeping them clean can easily enhance the visual appeal of your outdoor space. Get closer to a spotless deck with these DIY deck cleaning and sealing tips.

    Source: Chrome Projects

    When to stain your deck

    Outdoor decks are exposed to sunlight and harsh weather conditions which can wear out the colour of your timber decking. The original colour of the deck can be restored by applying a stain finish.

    Stain finishes are usually applied when the timber loses its ability to repel water. We recommend reapplying a stain finish every two years, with two coats each time. Successive applications will also strengthen the water-resistant compounds in the timber surface and extend the colour for longer.

    Test the water repellency of your deck by dropping water and checking if the water is absorbed. If the water drops soak up, it’s time to seal your deck with decking oil.

    TIP:  Always clean your deck before applying a stain finish. Each application requires at least 2-3 hours to dry. Check the weather update – avoiding a chance of rain – before you set aside an afternoon to oil your deck.

    Clean before you oil

    In between oil applications and before applying a stain finish, strip the deck of old oil residue by giving it a good scrub.

    There are several types of deck cleaners, each with its own application procedure. Check the instructions carefully before you apply them to your deck. Some deck cleaners can be poured right on to the deck, while others require some diluting before usage.

    Deck sealants are either oil-based or water-based, and both are equally effective. The difference is that an oil-based sealant will penetrate the surface of the wood while a water-based sealant will coat the wood’s surface. Water-based sealants can last from a year to 18 months while oil-based sealants last from six months to a year.

    Alternatively, you can clean your deck with a homemade solution.  A household solution is an inexpensive alternative to commercial deck cleaning formulas.

    • Mix ⅓ of household napisan with half a bucket of warm water.
    • Dampen the deck and follow by applying the cleaning solution with a deck scrub.
    • Let the solution sit for 15 minutes, give it a good rinse and let your deck dry for 24 hours. Achieve the same effect with a generic washing product that contains sodium perborate.
    Source: Dario Handyman Services

    TIP: In between cleans and oil applications, maintain the colour of your timber with regular sweeps rather than hosing.

    Don’t go overboard

    When applying stain finish or decking oil, ensure you don’t overload the surface as this will produce a stronger colour than intended and can often result in an overly glossy and uneven decking floor. Consider these steps:

    • When your deck is dried, apply a coat of oil with an applicator and a decking brush.
    • Apply the oil across the entire length of the board for a smooth and even covering.
    • Coat 3-4 boards at a time and avoid overlapping as this can leave marks when the oil has dried.

    TIP: To avoid overloading your deck with oil, wait 5-10 minutes after each application to see how much of the oil is absorbed. Remove excess oil with a rag.

    Different options in deck sealers

    Your deck should both look good, and be protected from the elements. Here are some options to consider when you are either sealing or resealing your deck.

    1. Sealer

    When using a sealer, you have two different options. You can either have one that is transparent, or you can have one that is semi-transparent. In either case, the sealer will serve to protect and preserve the wood that is hidden underneath. Sealers work to block out UV radiation from the sun in order to keep your deck from turning grey. They also work to keep mould and other types of fungus from growing on it.

    A clear sealant will need to be reapplied each year, whereas a semi-transparent option will last for three to four years. These sealants provide protection and block UV rays as well because of the pigments that are in them. They will still show some of the natural colour of the wood and still keep it looking clean and inviting.

    2. Stains that are semi-solid

    Semi-solid stains can last up to five years and provide a good amount of protection. This is the most popular option for pine treated decking. When it comes to treating various hardwoods, this option can hide some of the actual colour of the wood. To reapply the sealant and stain, you will need to strip the old coating off and put a new fresh coating on. These are good for areas where there will be a lot of foot traffic and where there will be a lot of action on a regular basis.

    3. Deck oils and stains

    These are good options due to the fact that they are so durable and will last for a long time. They work to protect the wood from UV radiation, dirt and the growth of moulds and fungus. These will actually penetrate into the wood and form a seal. They are also known as deck oil.

    These stains and sealants will wear away over time and need to be reapplied. They create a beautiful look, but keep in mind that your deck will be the colour of the stain or sealant you choose since they will not allow the true colour of the wood to come through in most cases.

    4. Deck paint

    While stains and oils are the most common option, you can also use a specially formulated paint on your deck. These tough paints will hold up to any foot traffic and weather that might plague a deck. It will also look great, and you’ll have plenty of colours and styles to choose from. You’ll be able to change the colour to match any sort of new decor you want to add to the outside! It’s both attractive and versatile. 

    How to DIY deck paint

    First, choose what type of paint you’re going to use on your deck. Obviously, pick one out that is designed to be used on an outdoor deck – it should say that right on the can. Check the instructions or have a chat with the professional at the store before you buy it; there may need to be primer or undercoat used right alongside the paint. Be sure you select the right colour for your deck – it should complement the house, and not look too crazy. You need to be sure that your deck is clean and dry before you paint. That means if your deck is brand-new, let it sit for a week or so, and make sure it’s quite dried out. Also, check the weather forecast; don’t attempt to paint if it’s supposed to be rainy. Additionally, use drop cloths to protect any valuable plants from sprayed paint that might reach them.

    After you’re sure that everything is dried, make sure that all of the old paint or coating is removed, apply any primer or undercoat, and then begin to apply the paint with the instrument of your choice – roller, paint broom or sprayer. As with any paint job, take your time and be careful. Make smooth, even strokes. Apply the first coat, let it dry, and then apply additional coats as necessary. Be sure to follow the instructions on the paint can. Let everything dry completely before replacing furniture.

    Every two years or so, it will need to be re-painted so it keeps that same glowing appearance. 

    Staining timbers

    Staining timber is an excellent way to add colour and protect your deck. While most stains are intended for specific timber types, with some experimentation, you can achieve a custom look with some experimentation. Here are some tips to help you achieve the desired look when staining timber.

    Jarrah Stain on Pine:

    Jarrah stain is typically used on durable hardwoods. However, if you like the look of Jarrah, you can experiment by using it on pine. Remember that the outcome may not be as impressive as with hardwood, but it’s worth a try.

    Staining Treated Pine to Look Like Merbau:

    Merbau is a popular choice for decks and is known for its enduring deep red-brown colors. If you’re wondering how to get a similar effect on treated pine, you can use a wood stain in a walnut or red-toned color, which can give your decking a sense of warmth and richness.

    Stain-Treated Pine Sleepers:

    Treated pine sleepers are known for their strength and durability, but their look may be too raw for some. Staining is an excellent way to add color and warmth to the timber and match your decking. For sleepers, it’s best to use a wood stain that can take much wear and tear. Use a wood sealer over the top of the stain to protect it from the elements.

    With these tips, you can create beautiful timber finishes for your outdoor space. Remember to always conduct a test patch before staining the entire decking area. This helps make sure you get the results you want.

    Cleaning, sanding, and coating a deck

    To keep your deck looking great, regular maintenance is key. After cleaning, you may need to sand and coat or oil it to restore it to its original glory. Here are some tips to help you get the job done right.

    Cleaning timber deck with Napisan:

    For a quick and easy way to clean your timber deck, consider using Napisan. This laundry booster is a powerful cleaner and can cut through dirt, grease, and grime.


    When it comes to sanding your deck, consider using a belt sander or an orbital sander. However, depending on your decking material, a belt sander can be the best option for large spaces, while an orbital sander can be more appropriate for smaller areas or problem areas.


    When selecting an oil to coat your deck, there are many great options available. Some recommended ones include:

    • Oz Oil Decking Oil: This is a quality oil, which provides a natural, long-lasting finish.
    • Haymes Decking Oil: This oil has a natural low-sheen finish that accentuates the timber’s natural beauty.
    • Wattyl Express Deck Oil: This oil has a water-based formula that dries quickly, making it perfect for use on decks.
    • Feast Watson Grey Look Deck: This oil is made for those looking to give their deck a modern, contemporary look.

    Staining Treated Pine Decking:

    When staining treated pine decking, use a high-quality deck stain that contains UV inhibitors to protect against fading, cracking, and warping.

    Spotted Gum Deck Maintenance:

    Spotted gum is a popular choice for decking material; it is naturally durable and will last for years if maintained. To keep your spotted gum deck looking great, clean it regularly with a mild detergent, then apply a quality exterior coating or oil to protect the timber from UV and water damage.

    Cutek Oil:

    Cutek CD50 oil is perfect for protecting and preserving your deck. This oil penetrates deep into the timber, providing protection against harsh weather and insect damage. Cutek oil is available at Bunnings if you’re looking for a convenient shopping location.

    Best Finish for Treated Pine Decking:

    Treated pine decking requires a finish that will be durable enough to withstand the weather elements while providing a polished look. An oil-based deck finish is an excellent option because it provides a durable finish that penetrates deep into the timber.

    Orbital Sander for Deck:

    When sanding your deck, an orbital sander is an excellent tool to use. It’s a hand-held tool that uses a circular motion to sand your deck thoroughly, giving you a clean surface ready for the next step in the sealing process.

    Rain After Oiling Deck:

    It’s best to avoid oiling your deck before rain or wet weather. If you must oil your deck during wet weather, ensure that it has enough time to dry thoroughly before it gets wet again.

    By following these tips, your deck can look as good as new for years to come. Be sure to choose the best tools, oils, and cleaners suitable for your specific deck material and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for better results.

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