OK so you have had your new Spotted Gum decking installed and now you’re faced with the dilemma of what decking oil is suited to Spotted Gum Decking. Firstly I must add that Spotted Gum is by far my favourite decking timber to work with due to its features leaving no two boards to look the same.
Depending on where your Spotted Gum came from you will have various Blondes, Browns and potentially Pinks to showcase.
With the above being said I’m under the firm belief that if you’re going to oil Spotted Gum timber it’s only fair that it’s done in such a way that you show of its features. in order to achieve this, you really need to run with a transparent oil. Now when I say transparent oil I’m not saying run out and buy yourself some Clear as you will be lucky to get 3 months out of your oil.
If you live in Australia you must use oil with some degree of pigment when oiling Spotted Gum decking, as your timber is going to be in the elements with our harsh UV and variety of weather conditions.
Here is a photo of a deck that has a mix of Yellow Box and Spotted Gum timbers finished with our preferred oil.
As much as I love Spotted Gum decking it does have its downsides too – the timber itself is not the most stable of timbers – Due to extensive knots throughout the timber, If you neglect the wood you will quickly find yourself in a position of cracks & cupping taking place due the expansion/contraction of the timber due to taking on water. If your still at the early stages of your deck build and reviewing spotted gum decking cost per square metre compared to Merbau or the likes be warned to sit down as its expensive by comparison. Please read all 14 tips below so you can go into your Spotted Gum decking maintenance with your eyes wide open and avoid thousands of dollars in repairs.
Now Read 14 tips to add 10 + years to your Spotted Gum Decking – Learn some tricks of the trade on oiling and cleaning Spotted Gum timbers.
- Tip.1 Before oiling your Spotted gum deck with protective coatings for the first time its generally a good idea to allow the timber to release its natural tannin. This can be done in 1 of two ways – Chemical treatments or allow the timber to weather naturally for 6-8 weeks. Please bear in mind the downside of the latter is that you will most likely have uneven weathering of your boards so chemically inducing this process is our preferred method.
- Tip.2 When the time comes for you to Oil your Spotted Gum decking, be sure to give the deck a good clean using an acid treatment and a good scrub. Depending on where you live, you can generally go down to your local paint shop and purchase “deck washing” cleaning agents which in most cases are just Oxalic Acid-based. Special note here its critical that you follow the instructions of the deck wash product as there is no room for error with ensuring the acid is thoroughly removed from the timber after the clean, as this will have adverse effects on your coating and lead to costly repairs. (Short Version – be sure to make sure the acid treatment is removed before oiling or this will rob you of some holiday funds)
Here is product readily available in Australia hardware shops which is essentially Oxalic acid concentrate. That will make up to 10 x the amount you will otherwise purchase as a diluted formula from hardware shops. This item can usually be found in the concrete cleaning section and will save you a fortune.
- Tip.3 In some instance on new decks you may find black staining from where trades have cut metal when building a balustrade and this may have leached into the timber – Don’t be afraid to hit these sections with a stronger ratio of acid to remove these from the timber or maintain the same water/acid ratio as the rest of the deck but instead give it a second/third treatment.
- Tip.4 Ok so your Spotted Gum Deck is now weathered, tannin removed, acid washed, cleaned, dry and ready to rock for decking oil. This leads you to that infamous question of what is the best decking oil for spotted gum decking timbers?. My response to this is the best oil you can afford at the time. +Being that you have used a showpiece timber for your decking build – do not make the mistake of going to your local hardware store and buying a cheap oil as you will be very disappointed. Our favourite decking oil combination for Spotted Gum is 2 x coats of oil with a slight reddish hue as this allows the pinks to be highlighted and then finished with a Matt Clear. One of the advantages of a Matt finish is that it will hide imperfections from everyday use. If you use a high sheen finish every time the kids throw bikes down or a chair is moved it will leave a slight line that will show when the light refracts off the coating. For Legal Reasons, I can not pay out on certain products on the market that are heavily sold in Australia. But I will say that the Australian decking oil market has been largely locked away by a company that has a monopoly on the market and owns 80% of the brands on the shelf which surprise surprise has been bought out by overseas interests. I’m not here to sell you decking oil but I will say that we do have top quality decking oil in Australia, manufactured in Australia for our harsh climate which perform fantastic so support Australian business!
- Tip.5 Don’t be fooled by wild marketing claims – One Oil is very different to the next – With most stores and product ranges stocking what they deem a Good, Better, Best range which has different quality UV inhibitors and different quality pigments. You do get what you pay for with decking oils. One way for manufactures to get away with cheap UV inhibitors is to make the product have the transparency you would expect from paint. Top end oils will have a combination of quality UV inhibitors + pigments + anti-foaming agents which results in a finish that will showcase your Spotted Gum deck.
- Tip.6 Ensure you allow enough dry time between coats, as per the manufactures specifications on the can and If possible take photos of your work after each coat so that if they offer a guarantee on the performance you have your preparation documents to cover yourself should anything go wrong.
- Tip.7 Allow yourself time to work on the deck in consecutive days- If you only have time to do 1 coat and you know you won’t be able to get out for another week you must be prepared to give the deck another complete clean before the second coat, as the deck would have acquired debris, dust, and contaminants through the week.
- Tip.8 Don’t oil your Spotted Gum deck in extreme temperatures as this most certainly will end badly with lap marks and the likes. So golden rule here is to not oil your deck when the ambient temp is below 10 degrees and avoid times when the ambient temp is above 30 degrees. An overcast day somewhere between 15 degrees – 25 degrees ill make most oils easy to work with without playing with your emotions.
- Tip.11 Remove all chairs, pots, tables & mats through winter to help the deck with being able to self dry between rains.
- Tip.12 Ensure when the Spotted Gum is being laid that the boards have a minimum of 5 – 6 MM spacings (no exception to this rule)
- Tip.10 Despite what your deck builder might have told you about Spotted Gum it is actually a very unstable timber that has very little appreciation for being left damp. If you can improve ventilation in any shape or form this must be a priority.
- Tip.9 Once the deck is oiled be sure to keep your furniture off for 7 days to allow enough time for the coating to cross-link and become more resistant to scratches.
- Tip.13 Make sure that your timbers never have contact with grass or soil lines as this will lead to wood rot at a rapid rate.
- Tip.14 Don’t trust manufactures claims on the cans – The hard truth is that you have picked the racing car, beautiful feature-rich timber it comes at a price and I’m not just talking about the initial build. Spotted Gum decking does demand that it receives a maintenance coat of oil every 6 months like clockwork if it is in the full sun or has varied exposure.
Here is a photo of a Spotted Gum deck we sanded/sealed using our favourite combination of oils. This deck had previously been coated with one of Bunnings top-selling brands which resulted in early life failure.
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