What is The Best Finish For a Timber Deck?

double story house with timber deck

The timber you choose for your deck is the most important decision you will make in this process. This choice will be influenced by your budget, where you live, what kind of climate you live in, what risks there are to the deck, and how large the deck is. Additionally, you should be thinking about how easy the timber is to work with, should you plan to build the deck on your own. Once the timber deck has been built, you are at the beginning of its lifespan and the onus is very much on you to make sure that it looks great for many years to come.

In order to maintain your timber deck you need to give it the right finish, and then ensure that you regularly maintain it. To support you in picking the right finish, here is what you need to consider.

Sealant or Stain Timber Finish

The biggest question that we are asked when it comes to the finish for the timber deck is whether to go for a stain or sealant. The most common choice here is a stain, and the reason is that this product will seep into the wood, highlighting the natural colors and characteristics of the timber. Conversely, a sealant will create a layer on top of the timber, usually translucent, that still showcases the natural color of the timber but doesn’t do much to enhance it. You can use either here but a stain will usually look better and last longer.

It is also worth mentioning that sealants usually don’t provide UV protection. Here in Melbourne,  timber decking is often finished with stains because of the extra protection it can offer in cold and hot weather.

Water or Oil-Based Timber Finish

Should you decide to go for a stain, you will need to decide between oil-based and water-based, and each has its benefits. Whilst both of these options can help to give your timber deck a great finish, water-based options are generally a little more forgiving when you apply them. If this is the first time you have applied a finish to the deck, this could be the best option for you. Oil-based stains will absorb much quicker, but they can often provide a little extra durability when compared to water-based stains.

Applying The Timber Finish

When you apply the finish of your choice, it is imperative that you have given the deck a thorough clean. You should make sure that you have removed all dirt, debris, and any loose grit from the timber deck. If you fail to do this it can compromise the quality of the finish. Make sure that you use gloves and a great tip is to place down a piece of timber drywall for you to put the paint can on. Many people fall into the trap of leaving it on the exposed timber and they end up with a painted ring on the deck, which of course is not ideal.

Focus on getting the best timber first, but always ensure that you know what finish is the right one for you and your deck.