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Guide To Deck Maintenance

How to check if your deck needs recoating

A good way to test if your deck is ready for another coat or two is to preform the "water drop test". Pour a 1/4 cup of water onto a clean exposed area of decking (ensuring the areas if free from dirt and grease) . If the water soaks into the timber and causes a darkening of color (shown in the picture on the left) it is recommended to re-apply another coat or two of oil as the previous layer has already broken down.  However, if the water beads up and doesn't soak into the timber or cause a color change there may still be a protective layer of oil present .

Decking ready to be coated

Water absorbing into the deck suggesting that the decking is ready to be re-coated

Water beading off the deck

Water beading on a deck is a great sign that the decking doesn't require re-coating yet. 

For deck products which form a protective coating, the first sign the decking may need a re-oil is often the presence of water being absorbed into the decking. The phase after water absorption often involves flaking, peeling, or general failure of the protective coating. This will often happen in the areas most exposed to the sun and rain.  It is important to organize a re-coating at the first sign of any flaking, as leaving this damage to compound may increase the time and cost of the preparation process.  Removing peeling decking oil is required therefore it often means the damage to the decking is worse than it seems if left till the decking is peeling.


It is recommended to thoroughly inspect your deck bi-annually (before spring and Autumn) or if your deck shows any visible signs of aging such as loss of color or water retention. If unsure contact the professionals, we offer free quotes and advice to Perth metro and surrounding areas.

How To Treat Peeling Decking?

Why is your decking peeling?

Peeling or flakiness of decking occurs when a decking oil "fails" and is common for infrequently or poorly maintained decking exposed to the sun and rain.  Not all products can cause peeling, products that create protective layers on top of your decking have the potential of peeling once the connection between coating and timber fails.  All coatings will fail at some point if exposed to the elements for a long period of time however, a number of factors affect the severity of damage and time between coatings. 


UV rays from the sun work to break down all decking oils and will act to damage the timber decking once the coating fails. Once the UV rays have removed sufficient protection that the decking oil provided moisture is now allowed to seep into the decking causing a number of problems over time.  Moisture is Timber's worst enemy and causes rot, mildew as well as expansion and contraction of the boards.  Expansion and contraction of decking over time act to pull the boards away from their already sun weakened coatings allowing cracks to form and peeling to occur.  

Deck sanding process

Preparing the decking properly (sanding) will extend the life of the deck and eliminate any premature coating failures.  Some common causes of this failure to adhere to the timber include:

  • The previous coating was not sanded before application where flakey (most intact coatings are fine to reapply without sanding)

  • Dirt and/or grime 

  • Excessive Moisture

  • Extreme application temperatures

Ensuring the decking is free from the above through means of sanding and cleaning the decking helps the new coatings adhere to the decking providing the maximum lifespan for the new coating.

Water Based Decking Finishes

Water-based products are commonly used and are a great environmentally responsible option for those wishing for a lower maintenance deck.  They often carry a pigment ranging from a pine color to dark brown or hardwood red giving the timber a more uniform color that can be very beautiful when well maintained as well as providing an excellent layer of protection from UV rays. 

Regular application of decking oil is is recommended every 6-18 months depending on the level of exposure and decking oil used following the criteria explained above. Long-term failure to re-apply can lead to peeling allowing moisture to cause potentially permanent damage and looking unsightly.  If any peeling is noticed it is highly recommended to apply oil before further damage to the deck is sustained as it can be extremely difficult to completely cure a peeling deck without expensive stripping of the previous coating.


  • Longer lasting protection (typically 12-18 months)

  • Stunning solid and shiny finish

  • Better at filling any damage to the decking


  • Stronger pigment means drip marks and brush strokes can be seen

  • Coatings will peel, flake or degrade if not maintained appropriately (after 12-24 months depending on exposure)

Beautiful poolside deck

This client's deck has been applied with Natural Colour Ultradeck for years, it leaves a great consistent finish although over time the wood grain can get obscured. 

Oil Based Decking Finishes

Non-film forming oil-based products are associated with a natural look, showing the timbers natural grain however, it tends to create higher maintenance decking due to the more rapid breakdown of oil when compared with water-based products.   Non-water-based products are often absorbed into the timber instead of providing a protecting coating over the surface, as a result, the decking will dry faster if left without reapplication when compared to most water-based products. Oil-based products should be applied more frequently than water-based products with applications being applied anywhere from 6-12 months and sometimes as frequently as every 4 months in areas fully exposed to the sun.

The positives of oil-based products include easy application with a minimized concern for brush marks and far reduced chance of peeing or blistering due to the oil soaking into the timber versus forming a protective coat on top.   Applying oil-based products often involve wiping the excess oil off between coats so make sure to check each product's requirements individually.


  • Easy application

  • Highlights the natural grain of the timber

  • No peeling or flaking

  • Great water protective properties


  • More frequent application required ( every 6-9 months)

  • in some cases less able to cover certain damage such as scratches

  • Requires heaving cleaning before re-coating

Deck sanded and treated with oil based product

After sanding the old coating off, we love the way Cutek Extreme looks! It gives a natural finish without building up opaque layers. 

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