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DIY Decking Oil
Last updated 7:06 am, Thursday 4th August 2011

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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Comments left

  • Paul said:

    There are some who say that linseed oil encourages fungal growth when applied to timber decks. Do you have any comment about this?

    ON Sat, 12 Jun 10, 6:20am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      Hi Paul,

      I haven't seen any fungal growth and we have been applying the mix to our deck for over a year now. I'd imagine the turps would work against that problem.

      ON Sat, 12 Jun 10, 8:11am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Paulo said:

    hi, what is Terobene? cannot find any translation to portuguese. Paulo

    ON Sat, 19 Jun 10, 10:30pm probably from Portugal  Reply to this comment

  • Anthony said:

    Add some Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Oil to the mix. Even oil of cloves as these are anti mould and fungal.

    ON Tue, 20 Jul 10, 10:28pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Scott said:

    This sounds great. I would like to use it on treated pine. Do you see any problems with this? Also, can I tint it so it has a different colour, and if so, what do I use and how much? Thanks.

    ON Mon, 6 Sep 10, 11:17am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      Hi Scott,

      It should work on treated pine. If I was you I'd try it out on some scrap first and see how that goes. As for the tinting, really depends on the age of the wood and sun exposure - I'd take a wood sample to your local paint supplier and get them to match to the colour you are looking for. I'd suggest mixing the tint slightly thinner than you need and apply many light coats to build up the colour to what you want - that way you remain in control of the job.

      ON Tue, 7 Sep 10, 5:34am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • David said:

    Hi Eco Guy, that s sounds great as I also have an expensive deck. Can you please advise me where to purchase or who makes the terobene as I cannot seem to locate it. Thanks and good work as you have saved a lot of people a lot of money. David

    ON Thu, 16 Sep 10, 11:44pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      Hi David, Feast Watson make it - need to go to Mitre 10 in Australia to get it. basically its an aid to help the oils get into the wood and therefore make it dry quicker.

      ON Thu, 23 Sep 10, 6:39am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Beth said:

    Just put penatrting oil stain on my deck. We have been in a drought for MONTHS. 2 hours after application, out of no where - breif thunderstorm. What do I do?

    ON Sun, 26 Sep 10, 3:27pm probably from United States  Reply to this comment

  • Clementine said:

    I'm probably going to seem like an idiot, but could you tell me where to get raw linseed oil from? ;x Thank you.

    ON Sat, 23 Oct 10, 1:09am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • David said:

    Hi just wanting to know does the raw linseed oil make the timber decking stain a lot darker than normal and how long would using the Raw Linseed oil 4 parts Mineral turps 11 parts Terobene (drying agent) 1 part last before re-applying Cheers David

    ON Thu, 3 Mar 11, 5:13am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Ray Sawford said:

    It sure sounds great to me.........I am going to try a small batch for some treated pine outdoor furniture which I have made.........I will even go out on a limb and try tinting it to match some other furniture close by.........Dark tile grout or brickies mortar tint powder might do the trick.......Eh !.......coloured Clay and Ochre etc has worked for centuries as a tinting medium in many cultures and has stood the test of time,for sure.

    ON Thu, 24 Mar 11, 11:02am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Ian said:

    Hello. You could use low odour turps with your mixture. It may save the smell a bit. You can but it in Cairns under Diggers brand. I tried engine oil and kero a couple of times. It goes prettty dark but stops the wood rotting. I ended up cleaning it off before I came across your receipe and used a shop bought oil. Cheers

    ON Wed, 27 Apr 11, 11:16am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Mat said:

    Does the oil have to be Linseed oil? Can you use any other variety. ie old olive, engine oil. As long as you mix it with Turps what's the difference?

    ON Sat, 11 Jun 11, 2:41am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      No you cannot - has to be a natural oil that is thin. Engine oil is anything but and quite likely would damage the wood.

      ON Sat, 11 Jun 11, 10:01pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Crazywife said:

    How often would a deck need to be treated with the Timber Decking oil. i am new at this.

    ON Tue, 28 Jun 11, 10:51pm probably from United States  Reply to this comment

  • Tracey said:

    HI I'm from Canada and am about to recoat our deck which we have just fully sanded down. Can you tell me what Mineral turps is? Never heard of it and I am wondering if it is an aussie term. lol! Cheers, Tracey

    ON Wed, 7 Sep 11, 8:36pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      From wikipedia: Mineral turpentine, also known as turpentine substitute, turps substitute, or just turps is an inexpensive petroleum-based replacement for the vegetable-based turpentine. It is commonly used as a paint thinner for thinning oil-based paint and cleaning brushes, and as an organic solvent in other applications.

      ON Wed, 7 Sep 11, 10:54pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Sue said:

    Hi Eco Guy, Thanks so much for this 'recipe'! Could you tell me, as our deck is narrow and close to things that we don't want to hit with overspray, could we paint this mixture on with a paintbrush? I'm also wondering how much to buy in the way of ingredients as I'm not sure what the coverage would be. Would you know what the expectation would be per square metre for 2 thin coats, please? We have stairs and decking that measures about 65m2. Thanks again! Sue

    ON Tue, 20 Sep 11, 12:30am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      Hi Sue,

      Coverage is about 500ml (0.5L) per meter square I'd say of finished mixed product. Really comes down to how 'hungry' your wood is for it. Also do not overcoat, as anything which sits on the surface just does not soak in and goes tacky on you and then turns black from all the dirt and crud that sticks to it and is worse in open deck areas - the premixed oil based products will do exactly the same BTW. You want to be _just_ under over feeding it.

      ON Tue, 20 Sep 11, 1:11am probably from United States  Reply to this comment

  • Sue said:

    Hi again Eco Guy, Doesn't that make this more expensive than something like Bondall (17m2/L, single coat) or Feast & Watson (6-10m2 per litre, single coat)? Or is there more to it than that? Thanks, Sue

    ON Tue, 20 Sep 11, 4:58am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      Let me check with the lady of the house.. It's actually around 100ml per meter square atm. As I said it depends how hungry the wood is as to how many times you need to apply. If you buy the ingredients in volume once you have found it works for you, should be somewhat cheaper than the premixed versions.

      ON Tue, 20 Sep 11, 7:24am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Sue said:

    Thanks!

    ON Tue, 20 Sep 11, 9:52pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Darren said:

    I recently used decking oil but my sons spilt it on the outdoor rubber/cork type mterial tiles. What can I use to remove the decking oil without removing the colour from the tiles and cleaning the surface? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Cheers Darren

    ON Tue, 18 Oct 11, 11:22am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Colleen said:

    Can you also apply this with a brush or only the spray bottle method?

    ON Fri, 21 Oct 11, 5:10am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Kim said:

    Hi Eco Guy, thanks for sharing the recipe and wisdom :) Did you mean TerEbene rather than terObene??? the former is all that comes up when I google it..... Am trying to find out of it's toxic as I have a baby who will be eating off of the decking no doubt and we are super conscious of chemicals in our house. Any info would be fab. Not alot found on google. Cheers! Kim

    ON Sun, 30 Oct 11, 9:36am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Ranjit said:

    I am a bit lost on the measurements What do you mean by parts on the liquid measurements???? Tks

    ON Fri, 4 Nov 11, 10:31pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Dracher said:

      If you have 10 litres of liquid consisting of orange juice, Coca cola and gin, in which 2 parts are gin, 4 parts are orange juice and 4 parts are Coca Cola, then each part is 1 litre. 2+4+4=10. If you had a very big deck, then Raw Linseed oil 4 parts, Mineral turps 11 parts, Terobene (drying agent)1 part would give you 16 Litres of decking mix if each part were 1 litre, but if each part is a teacup full, then you would have 11 cupfulls of decking mix.

      ON Sun, 27 Nov 11, 2:38am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

      • Dracher said:

        CORRECTION! You would have 16 cupfulls of decking oil. Sorry , each part is whatever amount you choose to make it, but each number of parts must employ the same measure.

        ON Sun, 27 Nov 11, 2:42am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Dip Bhattacharya said:

    I am going to follow exactly as it is described in this nice article. I made some phone calls just now (28th Nov, 11) about pricing for various items here in Melbourne. Here we go:

    1) Raw Linseed Oil - $7.50 Lt at Mitre10 Chelsie

    Womersley's Mitre 10 Chelsea H Cnr Springvale & Wells Rd, Chelsea Heights, 3196 VIC 03 9781 9500

    2) Coles Smart Buy Mineral Turpentine at any Coles Supermarket - I think they are around $5/6 per Lt or less. Pretty cheap as you need more of this.

    3) Terebene - $18.99 per 500 Mil at Mitre10. Pretty pricey but only need to use one part.

    I hope the mixture will ultimately come similar or close to the one of those such as Cabot's Australian Timber Decking Oil. Will see...

    Cheers...Dip

    ON Mon, 28 Nov 11, 3:22am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Dip Bhattacharya said:

      Little price correction to above, 1) Raw Linseed Oil - $7.50 per 500 Mil (or half a Lt). It is around $12.00 for a Lt. Cheers. Dip

      ON Mon, 28 Nov 11, 4:01am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

      • Wez said:

        Ok the mix sounds great but has anyone compared price per liter or are we assuming this is cheaper Crystal paints do a natural deck oil for $30 for 4 litres which works out to be $120 for 16 litres Basic add up for 16 litres of Eco mix is $146 unless Ive got wrong prices on each item it seems cheaper to buy from retailer ??? What's your price per litre mr Eco guy ??? Only have 240m2 to cover that's all please help with pricing

        ON Sun, 11 Mar 12, 12:04am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

        • Eco Guy said:

          The price (as always) depends on the volume you need. Do remember you will need to keep reapplying this mix every once in a while. So do a sample mix to see if it works for you, but don't use the price points of that to determine the cost going forwards. If it does work for you - buy in volume, the ingredients won't go off I assure you.

          ON Sun, 11 Mar 12, 10:45am probably from United States  Reply to this comment

  • Wez said:

    Cheers mate Can't seem to find the terebene any clues on bulk places for it ???

    ON Sun, 11 Mar 12, 10:50pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Stuart said:

    You'll have to coat 4 times a year if you use linseed as it doesn't have any UV absorbtion properties. A better value option is to pay for a quality decking oil that has been designed for purpose. This will require far less maintenance.

    ON Wed, 18 Apr 12, 11:17pm probably from Singapore  Reply to this comment

    • Eco Guy said:

      Maybe, but if you are having to coat 4 times a year, then any consumer commercial product would also require a higher rate of application - so your period of maintenance may go down, but the costs would still be greater.

      There are professional grade decking products which are actually rated for multiyear coverage - although again that is ideal conditions and also you need to make sure that your application is spot on; otherwise you have a blotchy look to your deck. These work by effectively sealing your deck with a coating that has a built in stain. But yet again what you save in maintenance you pay for in cost.

      ON Thu, 19 Apr 12, 5:19am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Ian said:

    Hello there I'm in the process of trying to restore my hardwood decking after some fairly poor quality treatment and I have a question: Do you have a specific reason for using raw linseed oil instead of boiled? I've been using a similar mixture to yours for restoring the finish on furniture for about 40 years but using boiled linseed oil not raw. I hadn't thought of using it outside though. On furniture, raw linseed never really dries and remains slightly tacky attracting dirt, whereas boiled linseed oil mixed about 1 to 2 with turps, is absorbed quickly and dries in a few hours. Maybe you just don't have boiled linseed where you are but I'd be interested to know if you've tried it. Check out the characteristics of both on the net under furniture restoration and you'll see what I mean. Thanks for the idea of making your own decking oil in any case. Ian

    ON Thu, 30 Aug 12, 2:05pm probably from France  Reply to this comment

    • Bill Robinson said:

      My experience of using boiled linseed extrenally is that it will go black

      ON Thu, 9 Oct 14, 8:00am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

      • Linda Miller said:

        I've been using linseed oil for many years. I only dilute it with real turpentine for the first coat or if the deck has been neglected for a long time. The black stuff is mould. The boiled L.O. does not go any blacker than raw L.O. They go black only if you slather the stuff around. It is very important to use only as much as is needed to buff up. Don't allow pools of it lying on the surface. No way would I use terebine which is extremely bad for the ozone layer. It's completely unnecessary. Petro-chemical derived mineral turps is also not good for the environment. Use the lovely real stuff which comes from pine trees. Still works out heaps cheaper than proprietary products. I use linseed inside and outside.

        Don't use vegetable oils which simply don't go hard and impenetrable like linseed does, so do not protect.

        Inside I maintain the floors once a year with a simple wipe with an almost dry oily rag. Too easy!

        Linseed oil is an excellent massage oil for sprains on horse's legs. Funny thing is that after using it on my horse I found that it had also eased the arthritis in my fingers. Like linen, it comes from the flax plant.

        ON Wed, 14 Jan 15, 11:01am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • David said:

    Can I use this recipe on a deck that has previously been treated with a water based oil?

    ON Wed, 16 Jan 13, 11:36pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Ade said:

      water based 'oils' are not oils, they are coatings like paint, and not compatible ... avoid them as they require less initial maintenance but a lot of surface prep when re-coating is needed ... and can’t put real oil over that stuff ... unless rub back to raw bare timber.

      ON Wed, 10 Jul 13, 7:44am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Neil Hardson said:

    Some people think they are writers, but you’re a real writer. You have included many valuable, interesting views in your post. This content is a wonderful example of good writing.

    ON Fri, 29 Mar 13, 11:56am probably from India  Reply to this comment

  • Neil Hardson said:

    Your post has brought forward some very original and unique thoughts. I like how you expressed your points in an easy to read format. Thank you for writing such clear and concise material. Good reading.

    ON Thu, 11 Apr 13, 11:27am probably from India  Reply to this comment

  • Louise said:

    I put in around 100 sq meters of deck a couple of years ago. I have been using boiled linseed oil and turps (half and half). It works well, but yes you do have to repeat a couple of times over summer using less oil to turps, however I have used Cabots decking oil, thinking it would last longer as it was more expensive, but alas I got a fairly similar result.

    I strip the deck in spring with Napisan (diluted in water, I believe the acid is similar to what is used in professional deck cleaning products - Oxalic Acid from memory?) It certainly strips all the oil off and gets it ready to oil) Then I rinse with pressure washer and wait until dry. Then I add the oil/turps mix with a cheap sponge floor cleaner from the hardware (one that you can squeeze out) I tried the lambswool, but it put too much on in spots and didn't work for me.

    I will try with the Terebene next Spring to see if it lasts longer. It's looking a little sad at the moment, being the middle of a very, wet winter.

    Thanks for your post. Glad I found it, even if is a couple of years after it was written

    Louise

    ON Wed, 14 Aug 13, 6:16am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Louise said:

      This is some good information about how to cheaply clean you deck.

      ON Sun, 4 Jan 15, 7:03am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

    • Louise said:

      Sorry. forgot to add the URL http://www.renovateforum.com/f196/cleaning-oiling-your-deck-75429/

      ON Sun, 4 Jan 15, 7:04am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Renuka said:

    Been reading all your advice on how to use decking stains, but simply can't seem to find terobene/terebene the drying agent. Please help-really need to know where I can find it. Does it go under any other name or brand or something in US?

    ON Fri, 1 Nov 13, 2:37pm probably from United States  Reply to this comment

  • Deck Restoration said:

    I really love the way you discuss timber decks topic.

    ON Fri, 3 Jan 14, 12:52pm probably from India  Reply to this comment

  • Paul said:

    Has anybody tried ECODECKOIL? Google for it... It's made in Australia for thud climate and is reputed to penetrate deeply and be the best thing since apple pie. I have a new weathered large deck that I believe will do well with this product. Any opinions to share please?

    ON Fri, 24 Jan 14, 11:29am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Shane said:

    hi i have never even heard of the last 2 ingredients what are they and where do you buy this stuff.

    ON Fri, 14 Mar 14, 12:45am probably from Canada  Reply to this comment

  • Tanya Cox said:

    Hi and thankyou for the homemade decking oil mix rates. I cannot find anyone that sells the drying agent in Adelaide, is it really necessary? Thankyou

    ON Tue, 5 Aug 14, 2:57am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Des Townsend said:

    Would you be able to use the decking(linseed oil turps&terebene)oil on new floorboards Regards. Des

    ON Thu, 18 Sep 14, 1:43pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Outdoor Timber Furniture said:

    Keeping your timber outdoor furniture oiled is the core key to its long life. Generally, all the woods have some of their own natural oils. But, it dries when the woods face direct sunlight and the furniture becomes completely exposed to the natural elements. Some people like the old grey look on the furniture, but if you are not one of them, then the cleaning and oiling should be done 3-4 time a year, depending on the elemental and sunlight exposure it bears. Look for oils which are water, fungi and mould resistant.

    ON Thu, 25 Sep 14, 12:42pm probably from Pakistan  Reply to this comment

  • Adrienne said:

    Hello, I have used Cabot's decking oil on my front deck. I was a bit lazy with the second coat and have accidentally oiled a bit of the weatherboards. Any advice on how to clean the oil off without affecting the paint too much. (I don't really want to repaint the house at this stage). thanks, Adrienne

    ON Thu, 13 Nov 14, 11:08pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Damian said:

    Thanks for the recipe! I have a lot of un-used, unwanted Kerosene left laying around at my place, do you think I could substitute some of the turps with kero? PS: I didn't know Terebene was available at Mitre 10 in Australia so I bought some online from the UK.

    ON Tue, 26 May 15, 4:14am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Ann said:

    How much eucalyptus/tea tree oil/ oil of cloves do you add. Does the timber turn grey

    ON Fri, 10 Jul 15, 10:10pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

  • Beth said:

    Well, the United States, in it's INFINITE wisdom, doesn't seem to have terebine (terobene). And I'm fed up with the stuff we do have for decking. I tried Australian Timer Oil, twice, and haven't been pleased with it. Any idea for a replacement for the treobene?

    ON Sun, 20 Sep 15, 5:25pm probably from United States  Reply to this comment

  • Stu said:

    If Pale Boiled linseed oil has a drying agent agent to it already, why not use that, instead of having to find the terebene to add to raw linseed oil...?

    (I have indeed noticed that objects coated in raw linseed oil get mouldy, apparently, old fellahs used to add"tri-butyl tin" to their decking oil mixtures... doubtless there will be other, more friendly fungicides available today...)

    ON Thu, 22 Mar 18, 9:44am probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

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