How Oil Can Prevent You from Slipping on Your Timber Decking

Posted on: 19 July 2018

Do you remember the Slip-Slop-Slap sun safety advertising campaign of the 1980s? It urged you to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat before enjoying the sunshine. Slipping on a shirt is the only slipping you'll want to do when enjoying beautiful weather. If you have timber decking on your patio or balcony, there might come a time when you notice that the surface of the decking offers far less traction underfoot than it used to. There are numerous reasons for this. Rain might have resulted in tiny amounts of mildew, or it might be that your decking is a high traffic area after taking a dip in the swimming pool, again resulting in regular water exposure which has led to the growth of mildew. When coupled with changes to the wood as it contracts and expands depending on the temperature, a slippery surface might have slowly developed. If you are concerned about someone having a nasty fall on your decking, there's a fairly straightforward preventative measure you can take.

Non-Slipping Capabilities

It might feel counterintuitive to apply oil to your deck to prevent someone from slipping, but this is precisely what you'll need to do. Go to a hardware shop and pick up some decking oil specifically designed to leave a finish that offers non-slipping capabilities. This is usually achieved by the oil containing tiny particles which will not generally be felt underfoot but will result in traction. Like any kind of sealant, it will be available in a variety of colours and finishes, so choose one to your liking.

Colour Spot Test

If it has been some time since you applied a sealant to your timber decking, the introduction of the oil might noticeably change the colour of the wood. Much like testing an upholstery cleaner on a hidden section of a couch, you might wish to apply a tiny amount of the sealant to your decking to gauge the likely colour change. Choose a discreet area—despite already having tried to choose the best colour, you might need to opt for a different shade once you see it on the decking.


The decking needs to be thoroughly cleaned prior to the application of the anti-slipping oil sealant, although this can be the fun part. After removing all items from the decking (furniture, plants, etc.) and sweeping away all debris, you get to waterblast the decking. The next step depends on the instructions on the anti-slipping oil sealant. While it's generally necessary to apply an undercoat (such as a wood-preserving solution), sometimes a layer of standard decking oil is also required before applying the anti-slipping sealant. Make sure you have checked the instructions on your chosen product so that you can also buy the required undercoats while still at the hardware shop. You will also need to check the weather forecast, as each coat will need to dry before a new coat can be added.

This process not only protects your wooden decking from the elements—it also protects you and your family from a nasty fall.