The Best Oil Finishes For Your Deck

It’s a fact: No matter what type of material you use or how well it’s built, a hardwood deck will naturally wear over time. Even such naturally decay-resistant varieties as Ipe decking are vulnerable to the elements, and prolonged exposure to varying weather patterns and UV radiation will inevitably lead to discoloration, checking and cupping. The good news, however, is that there are many high-quality deck finishes available that help prolong the life of any hardwood deck.

While many solid and opaque finishes offer great protection against the elements, most homeowners choose hardwood decking because of its appearance. The best way to protect a deck while maintaining its original look is to use a clear, high-quality oil finish. A penetrating oil finish with UV inhibitors will offer great protection against the elements without covering up the natural beauty of the hardwood. The following are a few of the top brands of oil finish, their strengths and weaknesses, and what to expect when using them.


The professional grade transparent stains and sealers from Superdeck feature three high-quality oils, including linseed and tung oil, that offer great protection against harsh weather. The transparent oxide pigments in the Superdeck formula protect against harmful UV rays without covering up the wood’s natural appearance. Superdeck Transparent Stain & Sealer also comes with a satisfaction guarantee.

Penofin Performance Coatings

Penofin is the leading choice for environmentally friendly exterior wood stains. Penofin Verde contains all-natural ingredients, including vegetable ester solvents, plant-based resins, and Brazilian rosewood oil – no petroleum or heavy metal compounds here. It offers 99% UV protection and is safe for inside use.


Olympic’s line of clear waterproofing sealants feature a custom penetrating oil formula, two-way waterproofing protection, advanced UV protection, and their exclusive Scuff Guard ® protection formula. This is a great finish if you’re looking to protect against mildew and wood rot and works best when applied to new or pressure-treated wood.


This oil-based finish is perfect for those who want a protective coat with an even appearance. While Messmer’s UV Plus finish does change the color of the deck, it does not affect the texture or cover up the grain pattern. The finish is offered in two attractive colors, natural and red mahogany, and is great on denser hardwoods, such as Ipe decking.

Tips for Treatment

There are a few important tips you should take into consideration before and during the application of an oil deck finish. Following these simple tips will help ensure a much longer lifespan for your deck.

1. Finish all four sides.

End checking is a big problem for deck owners, and one that can be easily avoided by sealing and finishing every side of the board, even the bottom and the ends. Applying an even coat to all sides helps protect from water, mold and mildew in inauspicious places, like under the deck.

2. Finish before exposing to weather.

The best time to apply an oil finish is in spring or early summer, when the weather is warm and dry. Apply the finish in a dry, covered area before installing the boards. The decking material should be completely treated and dried before it is exposed to the elements.

3. Apply ASAP.

Even in nice weather, the longer the decking materials sits unfinished, the greater the chances of end-checking or warping. Getting the finish on as soon as you can is a great way to minimize the amount of damage that can occur to the wood before installation.

4. Go easy on the pressure washing.

Pressure washing is a great way to prepare hardwood decking material for a finish, but be careful not to strip off the surface fibers. Keep the pressure washer on a low setting and don’t get too enthusiastic.

Clear, penetrating oil finishes are a great way to lengthen the lifespan of your hardwood deck, but picking the right one is important. Make sure the oil finish you decide on features good UV protection, protects against water damage, and is safe for the type of wood you will be using. Speak with a hardwood decking professional if you have any questions about the type of oil finish you should use on your new deck.