Top 5 Questions When Selecting Timber Coatings

applying timber coatings

Timber decking makes a great addition to any outdoor area. While we love the natural look of timber, it’s important to keep it healthy with a water or oil-based timber coating. Without any protection, your timber deck or cladding won’t last long.

Whether you’re preparing to DIY or call in an expert to complete your outdoor job, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of questions about timber coatings. We’ve put together the top 5 questions to ensure you select the right finish for your timber. 

1. What’s the difference between water-based and oil-based timber coatings?

timber coatings

A water-based coating provides external protection around your timber, essentially adding a film (varnish) on the surface of the wood. The external protection helps to maintain the colour of the timber while also protecting against damaging UV rays. 

An oil-based timber coating works similar to a sponge. It penetrates deep into the pores of the wood, protecting it from the inside out. Oil-based products do not create a hard film on the surface, so they retain the timber’s rich, natural look.

2. How do I prepare my deck before applying a timber coating?

Cleaned Wooden Terrace

If you’re installing an outdoor deck, you’ll need to ensure your timber is prepared before you apply any protective coating. For a new deck, it must be clean and dry before applying any finish. If you’re adding a protective coating to an existing timber deck, there may be a little more work involved. 

When reapplying a water based timber coating, consider the condition of the existing coating. If it appears solid with no lifting or peeling,  you should clean the deck of any minor dirt and debris using a proprietary deck cleaner, allow it to dry thoroughly and then you’re ok to reapply the new coating. If the coating is in poor condition, you will need to remove any existing water-based finish i.e. lacquer or varnish. This can be done by sanding or stripping the timber – then clean well and re-apply with either water or oil based coating.

When reapplying to a deck with an existing oil based coating the process is much simpler – clean, allow to dry and reapply the oil based coating. 

Don’t leave it too long before applying a new coat. Some timber will begin to lighten or ‘silver off’ within a few months. If you want to double check you’ve prepared correctly, talk to the timber experts at Austim.

3. How long before I need to reapply the timber coating?

oil based timber coatings

There are so many variables that can change the recommended time to reapply your timber coating. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines but, as a general rule, you should re-coat every 1-2 years. Cladding can be re-coated every 2-3 years.

The variables that will change the time frame can include: 

  • whether you choose water or oil-based coating 
  • if your timber is exposed to the sun and rain
  • amount of foot traffic on the timber deck

4. Can I use the same timber coatings on all timber?

variety of timber

Today, there are so many varieties of timber coatings on the market. Some coatings are clear with minimal or no UV protection whilst others include tints or colours which provide greater UV protection. If your preferred wood is prone to leaching (the process where tannins leach out of the wood when it gets wet), you may choose an oil that helps minimise leaching. Talk to your timber supplier about your wood and its properties before you choose a coating.

5. What happens if I don’t use any timber coating?

timber coatings

If you leave your timber uncoated, your timber will dry out which can cause the timber to split or warp. If the timber is exposed to the rain or will experience humid conditions, it can be prone to mould and decay. Adding a water or oil-based finish to your timber adds a layer of protection against mould or mildew and regulates the level of moisture retained and lost, which keeps the timber stable. 

Timber that isn’t coated and is exposed to UV will begin to turn grey – this is the first sign that your timber is unhealthy. However, if you want to achieve a grey look, you can do it while keeping your wood healthy using products like CUTEK Exterior Timber Oil or Intergrain Universal Timber Oil. It requires a fine balance of letting the wood weather naturally while using the right oil to keep the inside of the wood healthy.

If you need advice choosing the right timber coating for your decking or cladding, talk to the timber experts at Austim.

Austim is Perth’s leading timber supplier and carries a wide range of timbers, (including many hard-to-find varieties) and stock leading timber coating brands. Contact Austim today.

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What our clients say

Austim are a great partner and timber supplier. Our business is based on the East Coast of Australia and we partner with Austim for WA projects. We have had a long lasting and great working relationship with Austim for many years. Highly recommend them.
daniel wright
daniel wright
06:31 18 Jun 19
Austim is always the first place I try when I need timber and it’s rare that I can’t get what I need there. Stuart is a rare gem of a gent to deal with – quick to respond to any queries, full of good advice and goes out of his way to help get whatever project I’m working on happening to my schedule, even when all I need is a few sticks and a handful of fixings. Highly recommend Austim, the team and young Stuart.
Anni Lilford
Anni Lilford
00:51 16 Nov 18
Stuart went out of his way to make sure we got the product we wanted. He made suggestions on possible constructions and timbers suitable. Very knowledgeable friendly staff all around. Excellent experience, highly recommended.
Holger Butenschon
Holger Butenschon
05:14 22 May 18
Hi Ben,Just wanted to thankyou for your help and advice in our selection of the Millboard Vintage Oak decking also in you recommending Grant from Premier Hardwood Decking. Grant has just completed our decking and we couldn't have asked for a more professional, reliable and competent tradesman. The decking has been installed to a very high standard and the decking itself is stunning. Ian and Sue
susan smith
susan smith
06:27 08 Oct 18
I've used Austim on a few occasions for home projects like decking and pergola, etc and each time the response to my requests for price and delivery have been excellent, the deliveries took place as negotiated, the timber quality was great and value for money. The team at Austim do a great job and make dealing with Austim a breeze.
Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
09:06 25 Oct 18
I have worked with Austim for around 8 years now and they are one of the best suppliers in perth to deal with. I would highly recommend to use them for any timber needs!!!
Art of Timber
Art of Timber
07:55 05 Mar 20
I had been looking for some cedar for my kayak project and had rung a couple of other places with no luck. When I contacted Austim they were very helpful, had the timber in stock and I was on my was in 20 minutes. The wood was very good quality and has really finished up beautifully. Thanks to Austim.
mark alderson
mark alderson
02:03 08 Apr 17
I"d like to thank Austim for there help in supplying me with material that firstly I thought I'd have trouble sourcing as it was marring up with originally 30 year old existing timber.My project was not a massive project but still needed the attention of an new build.The timber supplied by Austim was machined to size with absolute perfection, where I had to remove old pieces and replace with the new pieces they fitted perfectly.once the floors are re-sanded and varnished they will be back to there former glory. Thanks again to the staff at Austim.Regards Bob Heppenstall.I've just added a finished photo after the Floor Sanding was completed.Original timber was Tassie Oak, and the new is Vic Ash, as you can see there is only a slight variation in the final product.I hope this gives anyone thinking doing the same the confidence to proceed. Regards Bob Heppenstall.
Robert Heppenstall
Robert Heppenstall
10:05 12 Oct 18
Great service over phone and by email. Product supplied is high quality - no issues. Staff accommodating and friendly.
00:18 07 May 20
Good service with fair prices.
Colin Della Bosca
Colin Della Bosca
08:14 04 Jun 20

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