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article imageLast updated 5:06 pm, Thursday 4th August 2011

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Decking oil, how to make it yourself!

At the end of 2008 I like many fellow Aussies added on a hardwood timber deck to our new home.

The timber deck consists of a large, i.e. 100m2, part of which is a covered alfresco area and part which is an open veranda with stairs to the lawns.

The handrails and timber decking is made of 2cm solid Spotted Gum and the guard rails are of stainless steel. The timber decking was an important contributor to the overall architectural look of the home giving it a contemporary Colonial/Balinese feel.

It also represented a significant financial outlay so maintenance was crucial to preserve the wood finish.

Professional deck oiling experience

It came as a huge shock that two layers coats of shop bought timber decking oil plus labour came in at $600 of which $160 was the oil and the remainder labour. Now this may not sound much but given our Northern aspect and the harsh Australian environment we would need to do this at least four times a year, so thats at least $2400 a year!

In the first instance we had the professionals do the job and it took 3 weeks for the decking wood oil to dry. It was at this point that I began to looking at how I could do the task myself.

After trial and not too much error here is the way I now do the job.

Timber Decking Oil Recipe

Raw Linseed oil                 4 parts

Mineral turps                     11 parts

Terobene (drying agent)        1 part

This formula can be scaled up or down suit to your needs.

The cost saving is at least 50% less than the pre-made mix.

Equipment to apply the home made Decking Oil

  • 4 Clean plastic bottles that previously held mineral water 1.5/2L work best

I store each of the individual components in a separate bottle, and only when I want to use the product I make up the mix in bottle 4. These bottles and contents are now part of the kits.

  • Gloves are a must as the job is mucky and you are dealing with potentially dangerous liquids so mark your bottles clearly and keep well out of the way of food stuff and kids.
  • Mask. the smell will get to you and make you dizzy
  • Funnel to transfer liquids from larger cans etc
  • Old towel remnants
  • Eye protection
  • Stool for comfort
  • Plastic spray bottle

I have found the spray bottles for the company who makes "Method" cleaning products simply wonderful. So when I have finished one of their product e.g window cleaner I simply rinse it out with water and then fill in the decking oil.

Please note if you increase your Linseed proportion check that the spray gun will still work and not clog up.

Preparation for application of the decking oil

  1. Clear the deck and give it a good clean i.e remove decking furniture and give it a good sweep. if it is dirty wash down with a weak solution of beach (I do this once a year regardless).
  2. Make sure your deck is dry and check you are not expecting rain for the next 4 to 7 days to give the oil chance to penetrate fully into the wood.

Application of the decking oil

The professionals use a whole raft of equipment if you have it use it.. I have found that if I decant the decking oil into a good quality  recycled spray bottle all I do is sit on my stool and spray 1m2 areas and then move on.

For my handrails I spray on the decking oil onto an old bit of towel and rub it on, this also works well on stairs.

Make sure you have an even coat, I think it is better it do multiple coats than one thick coat as you don't have the inconvenience of long drying times plus I think you get better oil penetration of the wood.

By the way this decking oil is excellent on wooden garden furniture. Make sure you don't get it onto anything but the wood as it does stain!

Have a go you will be amazed at how easy it is and how cheap it is to make and use your own decking oil. I first made up a litre as I too was not sure but when I say that I was happy with the results I bought in bulk and saved even more.

Hints and Tips

First off do not be tempted to cut back on the turps in the ratio, otherwise you run the risk of the oil setting too thick and sitting on the surface of the wood, ending up with a sticky discolored patch. If you have a sticky patch the way to fix it is to up the turps (by about 50%) so making a thin mixture, just paint this onto the sticky area and work it in a bit over 10 minutes - what happens is that the old mixture goes liquid again and spreads with the new - fixing the mistake.

Also this is a good way of doing a once in a while 'refresh' of your deck; i.e. go over the deck with a specific deck cleaning mixture; wash that off and let the deck dry - then paint on the thinned version of the decking oil to really soak everything in well. Also while you are this up close and personal with your deck use this as a chance to use scrapper or blade to take off any deposits or marks that got attached to the decking oil.

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Related Tags: oiling, cleaning, home

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