There is nothing quite as Australian as the great outdoors. Living in this incredible country, we have all had the pleasure of sunny afternoons and warm nights spent with friends and family out in the yard. Our diverse climate, which ranges from tropical to dry, has created the perfect atmosphere for the archetypical barbeque that we are so well known for. There is absolutely no question that the stereotype has come to define much of the world’s perception of our culture’s idea of enjoyment, bonding and togetherness. Even today, Australia has stayed true to its roots and continues this tradition, with no signs of letting up.
Whether you’re enjoying a get-together in a friend’s yard, or spending quiet time soaking up the sunset in your own, there is one thing that is an integral component in every setting—the merbau deck. For decades, decking has been the perfect, most versatile platform for Australians to pass the time.
Though there are many different types of timbers available today that can be used to construct timber decking, none are as beautiful, durable, or age as gracefully as merbau. Merbau is an extremely robust hardwood that is still very smooth and pleasing to work with–being a top favourite amongst woodsmiths everywhere. Its natural red colour only deepens with time and adds to the story of your home.
While a merbau deck will go the extra mile, naturally lasting a long time for you, there is another layer of treatment and protection that you can add to it, which will help to preserve it for an even more extended period of time. By correctly and attentively oiling your merbau deck, you will ensure its longevity for years to come. Today, we are going to dive deep into the how and when of oiling a merbau deck. By the time you are finished reading this article, you will be well equipped to take good care of your merbau deck, carrying on an Australian tradition.
Why Should I Oil My Merbau Deck?
There are many products available on the market today that claim to help you take care of your deck. They claim to preserve it and extend its longevity; and while many of these claims are somewhat true, few of these products can perform to the standard of a good oil. The reason for this? Rather than just sitting atop your merbau deck (and bubbling or blistering), oil deeply penetrates the pores and very fibre of it. It seeps between the joints and connectors of the decks structure, ensuring it remains well protected against moisture damage. It also helps to bind the deck together and prevent expanding and fading. Certain oil based preservatives also contain blockers, which defend your deck against the harsh UV rays we experience in Australia.
While merbau is one of the timbers that contains an abundance of natural essential oils that keep it organically preserved, the benefit of treating it further with oils is that the oils will replace the natural ones as time goes on, and allow the timber decking to further thrive. Oil is the gold standard in timber treatments and will protect your decking against the elements like none other.
Which Oil Should I Use?
When it comes to selecting the particular oil to use, you have two main types to choose from. These are water based, and non-water based.
Water Based Oil Treatment
Water based oil treatments are excellent in that they are more transparent, and don’t have such a heavy and pronounced effect on the desirable natural colour of the merbau timber. While Water based oil treatments will deeply penetrate the timber and seep into its pores, they will also cover the surface and block the pores of the deck with an acrylic film. This means that, in order for this kind of oil to work at maximum effectiveness, the deck needs to be cleared totally of dust and debris beforehand, or else there is a chance it will peel off. Being a newer technology in oil preservatives, water based oils offer some other great advantages, including the fact that you can fully treat your deck within a day, with much shorter drying times than non water based oils.
Non-Water Based Oil Treatments
Providing a similar level of protection for wood as water based oil treatments, non-water based oil treatments penetrate into the wood fibre also, but don’t create a top level coating. While non-water based treatments offer a high level of preservation for timber, they take a while longer to dry between coats, and they often colour the timber somewhat, turning timbers to darker shades, similar to the look of wood when it has been rained on.
When it comes to selecting the best oil treatment for your merbau deck, it is advised that you base your decision on your specific requirements. The best treatment for you will depend on your deck’s usage, how exposed to the elements it is, and whether or not it has been previously treated. All timber generally comes with the recommended oil treatment type when manufactured and sold. It is a great idea to follow these guidelines and speak to your timber seller to find out more.
Is your deck new or has it been treated previously?
Treating a new deck with oil is pretty straightforward if it hasn’t been previously treated. You can simply select your preferred oil type and apply it. If, however, you have a deck that is some years old and has been treated previously (in many cases, multiple times), then there is a good chance that the condition of your deck will be inconsistent, with patches and variances where the sun has hit it or water has seeped in over time. In this case, the best practice is to sand back your deck, removing all affected layers of timber, and ensuring you have a nice smooth finish for your decking. Once this is done, you can apply fresh oil treatment to ensure that your deck receives the benefit of maximum longevity. To extend this for as long as you can and give your deck the utmost love, care and attention, you can make sure that you continue to oil your deck at regular intervals, spread out over appropriate time frames. We recommend you do this at least once every 12-18 months.
Preparing Your Deck For Oiling
When it comes time to prepare your deck for oiling, the first thing you need to do is clean your deck thoroughly. To do this, remove all furniture, plants, decoration and any other items that are resting on it. This will make it easier to properly and thoroughly clean. If it is not possible to remove everything off the deck, find a corner to put all items in and place them there. Next, using a special deck cleaner (or sodium percarbonate, which is the main ingredient in deck cleaner—found in Australian products such as Napisan), you can get to work cleaning the deck. The more thorough, the better. If using an alternative such as Napisan, you can pour two cups into a bucket and half fill it using hot water.
A stiff-bristled decking brush is the ideal tool to use to scrub the deck clean. Begin by lightly applying the cleaning solution to the deck with the brush. After letting it sit or fifteen to twenty minutes, apply more of the cleaning solution to the deck and use brush to scrub it. Once you feel satisfied that the deck has been cleaned up to a high standard, use a garden hose to rinse down the deck, ensuring all product has been wiped off. Once this is complete, you may let the deck sit this way for a few days, which will give it time to release any old oils to the surface.
Oiling Your Deck
After you have prepared you deck, and allowed the oil release process to take place, you are finally ready to oil your deck. To do so, you will need your chosen decking oil, a soft haired decking brush, a paint tray (or a bucket), and a cleaning rag, with turpentine or water (in order to clean up any spills). A sot haired brush is ideal, as it gives you the opportunity to soak up excessive oil and reapply it to other areas of your deck.
For every five square metres of deck, five litres of decking oil should provide you with enough for two coats. Always coat your deck in the direction of the timber’s grain, ensuring you only apply a thin layer. In order to best smoothen out the finish, attentively use the brush to even out any bubbles or collections of oil that form.
After fully applying the first coat, give it time to dry out. This can take around an hour, and depending on weather conditions, significantly more. Only apply a second coat once the first has dried. A second coat ensures all areas of the deck are filled and creates a more robust protective layer between your deck and the elements.
By now, you should have an enhanced understanding of how and when to properly oil your merbau deck. Knowing which oil to select should be an easier and more informed decision, while the simplicity of preparation and application will make the task less daunting. If you need more help, or would like more information on the best decking oil for you to purchase, contact us on 03 9305 2000.
How confident do you feel when it comes to oiling your deck now? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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