Help & Advice

Help & Advice

The difference between stain and oil products

"Should I use an oil or a stain on my deck?" is a common question. 

Whether the desired look is matt, glossy, dark or natural, an essential part of any deck maintenance is staining or oiling. The problem people normally face is understanding the difference between these two types of products. By choosing the right product this will ensure your outdoor area is finished to the way you want.

When deciding on what finish to use, many deck owners feel clueless because they don't know enough to make an informed decision. At Cabot’s, we regularly receive enquiries from our customers who either feel overwhelmed by the choice in front of them, or have used the wrong finish. But fear no more. Here is some handy advice to help you decide on which option is right for you.

Both oils and stains have their own distinct advantages. Essentially, what differentiates oils from stains is that a stain will improve the appearance of the deck by changing the timber colour; while an oil will enhance the current colour if you are wanting to leave your wood as is.

Firstly, establish if you would like to change the look completely of your timber or just enhance it. If the deck is Merbau, Teak or Jarrah for example, you will most likely want to use an oil to enhance the natural beauty of the timber. Alternatively, if your deck is Treated Pine, you may want to use a stain to change the colour and achieve a more rich, solid look.

Decking oils:

There are two types of decking oils available on the market – water based and oil based – and each type has its own unique characteristics. Water base decking oils last longer as the product sits on top of the wood, where as an oil based product penetrates into the wood giving it a very traditional look. Furthermore, water based products dry quicker then oil based, which is usually seen as an advantage if you are wanting to complete the job within one day.


With an abundance of decking oil products to choose from in the Cabot’s suite, we have chosen two of our leading products to help simplify the selection process for you:

Cabot's Aquadeck is a highly durable, water based, low odour decking oil that is designed to provide exceptional durability to all exterior surfaces. Aquadeck has a fast recoat time of 1 hour and provides a semi-transparent yet beautiful natural finish. 

Cabot's Natural Decking Oil is a penetrating oil that nourishes and protects the timber, providing a semi-transparent matt finish. Not only does it provide high UV protection, it is water repellent and dirt and mould resistant.

Decking stains:

Decking stain offers two important benefits – it changes the look of your timber and provides a high level of UV protection. You can transform the look and feel of your outdoor space by changing the colour of your timber. By staining your deck, you can achieve a variety of different colours, for e.g. you can transform a light coloured pine to look like a Merbau timber. 


To ensure you get the best staining result, you can’t go past our hero products:

Cabot’s Deck and Exterior Stain is a highly durable stain that you can choose with either a water or an oil base. Designed to rejuvenate and transform the colour of all exterior timber, this exterior stain delivers a long lasting, beautiful result and is available in a range of great colours.

Whether you use an oil or stain will come down to what you want from your deck, but just remember that caring for your deck is just like a beauty regime – to ensure it looks good all year round, it requires regular care and maintenance.


For free, expert advice on decking, call Cabot’s on 1800 011 006, or message us by clicking on the Cabot’s Project Assistant button below.