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WJ Deckwright

Decking stain – do I need it?

By June 22, 2016 April 24th, 2019 No Comments

We discuss when you might choose to opt for decking stain on your timber decking.

You’ve invested in a beautiful new timber deck and it’s looking lovely. But people are suggesting that you might like to use decking stain. In fact, you might be wondering if you should seal it, paint it, oil it… confused? We can explain.

Is your timber decking correctly treated?

First things first. Timber decking should be constructed from pressure treated timber. This is a preservative treatment and will ensure that your decking can withstand the elements and remain in good order for its lifetime. If you are not sure what treatment your deck boards have undergone, contact your supplier and ask for the facts. As a rule, softwood deck boards should be pressure treated (they might say Tanalised, which is actually a brand of preservative treatment) to Use Class 3. Posts and other elements that will experience in-ground contact should be treated to Use Class 4.

Back to the question of decking stain

So the most important thing is to ensure the correct treatment of your boards in the first place. Decking stain and many other oils and paints are generally a cosmetic choice.

Some people are not keen on the natural wood colour. They might have a colour scheme in mind or they might just prefer for it to be darker. This is where decking stain can come in. But do be aware of a few important points:

  1. Decking stain will have to be reapplied, perhaps annually, to maintain the colour that you have opted for.
  2. It can be difficult to apply other products to your timber decking, once you have applied decking stain. For example paint or some varnishes. Be sure on the finish that you want before you start.
What happens if I don’t apply decking stain?

Timber decking is a really tough product for exterior surfaces, so long as it has been treated correctly. It can withstand all extremes of British weather and continue to maintain its strength and structure all year round. If you opt to maintain the natural wood finish instead of applying decking stain, the timber will generally change colour over time, due to the natural elements. We call this “ageing” and in most instances, it can look very natural and attractive. It does not mean that there has been any deterioration in your decking, simply that the timber has changed in characteristics due to the natural weathering.

Timber is a natural product and will always evolve in its characteristics over time and with the seasons. For example, its moisture content will change, leading to expansion and contraction of the boards depending on the weather. All perfectly normal and part of the natural charm that timber exudes.

Interestingly, if you use decking stain, you will see most stains gradually fade over time, hence why reapplication would become necessary.

So the choice to use decking stain or not remains firmly with you. Be assured that it is a cosmetic decision and the most important factor is to ensure that your deck boards have been correctly preservative treated in the first place to maximise their service life.