There is little point in having a great looking new timber deck if you don’t plan to give it the maintenance that it requires. This involves cleaning the deck, ensuring that damage is repaired quickly and making sure that you protect it during the winter months. Most important is that you ensure that you varnish the deck, at least every other year. What the varnish does is to add a coat of protection on the deck, which ensures that water doesn’t seep into the timber, and that there is a layer of protection from scratching and damage. Varnish will also help your deck to look it’s best.
Mainly you are going to find oil-based and water-based stains for your timber decking, but there is much more to consider within each product.
Difference Between Oil and Stain
Varnish is a broader term to refer to either a decking oil or a decking stain, and they do differ slightly. The best way to consider this is that stains will work on altering the color pigment of the natural timber below it, and will leave a varnish-like appearance on the surface of the wood, which also offers some level of protection. Conversely an oil will seep into the decking to provide maximum protection, and it can come in a variety of colors. Here in Melbourne, timber decking is often coated with oil, which ensures that the deck is protected from within.
Ease of Application
Oil based products can be much more difficult to apply than stains, and this is because of the thick consistency, and because of oil’s resistance to moisture. Stains on the other hand are far easier to apply.
Much research has found that water-based sealers and stains emit fewer toxic fumes than oil does. These fumes can be irritating to the eyes and lungs, and they are not good for the environment.
Protection From The Elements
There is no doubt that if your timber deck is likely to be hit hard by weather through the course of the year, an oil-based option will always be the best. Water-based varnishes can chip and damage over time, as the weather softens the protection.
Oil-based varnish is the best at offering overall protection, with the exaction of fire. Studies have shown that an oil-based product will ensure your deck is robust and protected from the elements and from the accumulation of mildew and fungal spores. With this said, water-based stains are better if you live near areas which may be hit with bush fires.
If you want your timber deck to look its best then there isn’t much between an oil-based or water-based varnish, and the same goes for drying time, overall cost per can and longevity. It is clear however that when it comes to the level of protection which is offered, you should be looking for an oil-base if you live somewhere with tough weather conditions.