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Deck-orating with wood stains

From habitat plus - wood stains

A good deck can transform your home. Bridging outdoors and indoors, decks expand your living areas and offer outdoor dining spaces for barbecues or long lazy weekend lunches.

A stained deck sets the seaside tone of this home

This deck stained in Resene Woodsman Driftwood sets the seaside tone on this beachside home. This deep blue door is painted in Resene Blue Night, weatherboards in Resene Half Periglacial Blue with trims and columns in Resene Alabaster. Bench seat in Resene Coast and storage box in Resene Poured Milk.

As an extension of your exterior, decks can tie your home into the landscape and add to your home's street appeal. Wood stains and oils bring out the natural beauty of timber decking to either help blend into the natural environment or create the 'wow factor' on your exterior. Staining your deck will also protect it from wind, rain and UV damage, so your deck not only looks beautiful but is less prone to drying out, splitting and splinters.

Refreshing your deck is one of the most straightforward DIY jobs you can do in a weekend. From natural decking oils to coloured stains, the product you choose depends on the type of timber, the condition of the wood and your desired look.

The three steps to protecting your deck:

  1. Wash
  2. Stain or oil
  3. Enjoy!

What product to choose

Pine, macrocarpa, cedar and other treated softwoods


Kwila is a hardwood often found in decks. This timber native to South East Asia has a natural red colour which can leach and bleed from the wood. To refresh its natural colour, use Resene Kwila Timber Stain, this product can also be used on other exotic hardwoods. To change the colour of kwila apply Resene Woodsman in the desired tint, or for an oiled look apply Resene Furniture and Decking Oil.

Light and dark wood stains in this outdoor area

Interior designer Kelly Gammie used a combination of light and dark brown wood stains for the outdoor area of this Auckland home to create a natural look with dimension. Kelly used Resene Woodsman Crowshead for the lower deck and rear fence and the side fence, deck surround and balustrade are stained in Resene Woodsman Nutmeg. The weatherboards are in Resene Tana.

did you know?  Before using a new deck, ensure there is at least one coat of stain or paint to protect it from damage. Bare timber may be permanently damaged and stained by furniture, shoes or dropped food.

Choosing a colour

There are a few things to consider when choosing a colour for your deck:

Your home’s exterior: Consider if you want to match the colour of the exterior or finish in a contrasting colour to make it a feature of your home.

Indoor-outdoor flow: If your home has timber flooring, you might want to consider matching the deck's colour to the colour of the interior flooring to create seamless flow between the outdoor and indoor living areas.

Wear and tear: Decks are usually high traffic areas and can take quite a beating. Choose a practical colour that can be easily kept clean. Too light or too dark will tend to show up muddy shoe marks.

The natural surroundings: If your deck has a coastal view, you might want to consider a sandy natural tone. If your home is surrounded by bush, try a deep green such as Resene Evergreen or a rich brown such as Resene Dark Oak.

An outdoor area with a dark stained deck and fence

This outdoor area by landscape designer Sandra Batley features a pine deck stained in Resene Woodsman Decking Oil Stain in Resene Crowshead with a fence in Resene Waterborne Woodsman Crowshead.

did you know?  If your stairs and pathways are slippery when wet, apply Resene Non- Skid Deck & Path. This textured waterborne finish has a gritty texture which makes it easier to grip on to, reducing the chances of slipping. Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path may be tinted to suit the colour of your deck. It's a good idea to apply this to the edge of stairs and decking in a contrasting colour to your decking stain, then apply your wood stain up to the edge of the non-skid finish. Stains cannot be made into non-skid finishes with the addition of grit. This is because the stain will penetrate into the surface and will not hold onto the grit.

Prep work

Greying and weathered decks: Before staining, treat any moss and mould with Resene Moss & Mould Killer before cleaning with Resene Timber and Deck Wash. This will prevent any algae or moss growing through and discolouring the stain and give you a cleaner surface to work with. Remember that stains and marks will show through your stain so the cleaner the timber before you stain the better the finished result.

New decks: If timing allows, let the timber weather for at least four to five weeks before washing with Resene Timber and Deck Wash. As new timber is quite dense, it can be harder for it to absorb the colour. Washing the timber agitates and opens up the wood particles to allow it to better soak up and absorb the wood stain or oil. This helps to open up the timber surface and remove tannins.

did you know?  Once your staining is done, apply Resene Deep Clean every 6-12 months to keep it looking good. Simply spray or brush on and leave Resene Deep Clean and the weather to clean off moss, algae and the like. Ideal for use on paths, patios, decks and other exterior timber, concrete and painted surfaces. You can also use it on the canvas of outdoor furniture – try a test area out first on an inconspicuous area.

How to wash and stain a timber deck

  1. Treat mould with Resene Moss & Mould Killer. Apply then leave overnight, scrub and rinse off. After the mould is treated, apply Resene Timber and Deck Wash to your deck using a garden sprayer.

  2. Scrub the Resene Timber and Deck Wash using a short-bristled, long-handled scrubbing brush to remove any dirt and debris before rinsing with fresh water.
    Top tip: Work in small sections to prevent the product from drying before it is rinsed.

How to wash and stain a timber deck - step 1
Step one

How to wash and stain a timber deck - step 2
Step two

  1. Allow the deck to dry before applying your chosen Resene wood stain. We used Resene Woodsman Decking Oil Stain tinted to Resene Tamarind. First apply the stain by cutting in any edges or hard to reach areas of the deck using a brush.

  2. Working in a planned route (so you aren't walking over your stain), apply Resene Woodsman Decking Oil Stain to the flat surfaces of the deck using a Deckmaster Brush or lambswool applicator pad. Lay off in a uniform direction down the length of the boards.

  3. Allow to dry for at least two hours. If a second coat is required, work in the same direction as the first coat.

How to wash and stain a timber deck - step 3
Step three

How to wash and stain a timber deck - step 4
Step four


Resene Poured Milk

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