Timber decking is very popular amongst UK homeowners. Versatile and aesthetically attractive, this outdoor flooring looks amazing in a backyard, on the poolside, on a terrace, or on the porch – and it’s often used with success in public high-traffic areas.

But to guarantee the durability and beauty of your deck, it’s essential to protect your surface with a suitable paint or oil.

Generic wood sheen is generally a poor choice, which is why we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve roamed the market – identified, tested, and rated the most popular decking paint products for wood protection. Check out our top picks below.

decking boards


Our #1 Best Pick

Liberon decking oil

Liberon Medium Oak

An exceptional decking paint formulated to feed, protect and enhance the natural beauty of wood decking.

Low Cost Option

ronseal natural decking protector

Ronseal Natural Protector

High-quality and affordability in a single product. Don’t expect a wide range of colour choices though.

Best Of The Rest

Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking Stain

One of the most versatile decking stains on the market – comes in 13 colours and covers up to 20m²/litre.

Blackfriar Anti-Slip Coating

An anti-slip decking coating suitable for exterior timber decking and other wood surfaces.

Ronseal Decking Rescue Paint

A decking paint formulated to restore and revive old decking – it comes in 10 lively colours.


Natural wood has always been fascinating. Easy to integrate into any exterior design, this material is versatile enough to adapt to modern, traditional, or rustic styles. But this tonality isn’t your only option.

Choosing a decking colour is definitely more complicated than it seems. You’ll have to consider the type of wood, your landscape, and ultimately the finish you want to achieve. But complicated doesn’t mean impossible. If you don’t want to settle for the common natural wood, you can consider a rainbow of alternative colours.

In a contemporary landscape, a dark grey like charcoal or anthracite enhances the beauty of your wood decking. The colour works wonders in a backyard or porch, but it’s also an inspired choice for a stylish socialising area set under a hardtop gazebo.

Bluish-green or bluish-grey are two amazing choices in a coastal area. Reminding of the colours of the sea, these shades bring a relaxing tone to your landscape. These hues are also perfect if you want to revamp old decking.

Browns – all shades of brown – also give a flattering finish to wood decking. There are many light browns to use as an alternative to natural wood. Darker shades are elegant and sophisticated, suitable to use on the poolside or under the hot tub. These shades are ideal to create a resilient surface that withstands heavy footfall without requiring too much maintenance.

A remarkable finish is offered by a subtle military green stain. Blending wonderfully in a lush décor, this decking shade is ideal to apply over natural wood such as a pine, which has a slight greenish hue on its own.

Off-white is another inspired solution that works wonders in a small backyard. While this colour requires more maintenance, the result is subtle and elegant. Shabby chic or wrought iron furniture complement off-white decking with success.

Liberon decking oil

Our favourite decking paint – it seamlessly revives and restores wood.

Liberon Decking Oil is our favourite wood decking treatment. Although it’s less versatile than other products when it comes to colours, this product does an amazing job of protecting a variety of wooden surfaces, including decking, fences, hot tubs, and more.

Formulated with UV filters, the product delivers a long-lasting finish that enhances the beauty of natural wood. Three staining colours allow you to choose a lighter or darker tonality to integrate into your décor. Regardless of your choice, the natural, almost transparent look will provide a pleasant aesthetic in all style landscapes.

Protecting most types of timber decking, this oil covers up to 10m²/litre, depending on surface porosity. The product is water-based and, once dried, is non-toxic for pets. Because this is a protective oil, the colour dries slightly darker than natural wood colour, and that’s definitely something to consider when choosing the desired shade.

With proper surface preparation before application, the paint resists intense wear and tear and is perfect for high-traffic areas. Annual recoating is recommended even when no flaking or peeling is detected, to prevent any water infiltration that could damage your decking.

You should also know that this product is unsuitable to use on hardwood decking. Ipe, Iroko, Balau, and similar types of hardwood are already very oily on their own – and wouldn’t benefit from this type of protection. In all cases, it is recommended to leave hardwood to weather for 12 months.


• Containing UV filters, this Decking Oil is ideal for nurturing, protecting, and enhancing the natural charm of almost all wood decking.
• Three colours revive and restore the beauty of natural wood. The oil is easy to apply with a paintbrush, roller or sprayer.
• Suitable for all timber surfaces, including decking, gates, hot tubs, fences, and even outdoor furniture.
• Water-based formula is non-toxic and easy to clean from paintbrushes. When dried, the product is safe for pets.
• High-quality decking maintains its colour in time without fading in the sun. The finish is slightly darker than natural wood colour.


• Unsuitable to use on some foreign types of hardwood due to their oily nature.

ronseal natural decking protector

A quality decking protector for budget-savvy homeowners. Translucent finish highlights the beauty of natural wood.

If you’re not picky about colours and looking for a low-cost alternative, the Ronseal Natural decking protector could be the product you’re looking for. We tried the Natural oil which dries to a transparent finish that highlights the beauty of the wood, but Natural Oak is also available should you prefer darker stains.

Formulated to prevent moisture penetration and resisting mould and algae growth, this water-based protector is ideal to use in the pool or hot tub area. Unaffected by adverse weather, the product withstands heavy rains and snow too.

Resisting greying and discolouration, the product also provides UV protection to both hardwood and softwood decking. Ideal to apply on a wide range of different surfaces, the varnish covers up to 6m²/litre. Moreover, the product is also scuff-resistant and it dries to a translucent finish.

For the best results, we recommend applying two coats of decking protector on weathered hardwood or softwood. A quick drying time of only 90 minutes makes it easy to finish the job faster, and the product has the right viscosity to use with a sprayer for even faster results.

Note: easily maintain the decking with an annual resealing of the surface with a new coat of the protector, but you should always avoid applying on flaked or peeled surfaces.


• Waterproof decking protector is ideal to use with pool or hot tub decking. It prevents moisture penetration and resists mould and algae growth.
• UV and weather resistant, this product is ideal to protect your precious outdoor flooring all year round.
• Two colours provide a natural or natural oak finish. Both choices enhance the beauty of natural wood and are suitable for hardwood and softwood surfaces.
• Covering up to 6m²/litre, the product is easy to apply with a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer. It dries in only 90 minutes.
• Translucent finish highlights the natural veins and patterns of timber surfaces. The product is supplied in 5L tins.


• Once exposed to air, leftover product doesn’t preserve its properties too well.
• If you live in an area with particularly harsh weather, it might be necessary to reseal the surface every six months.

cuprinol anti slip deck stain

Playful versatility in an adaptable palette of natural or dramatic colours.

Cuprinol Anti Slip is a decking stain ideal for use with high-traffic areas. Weatherproof and water-repellent, this product provides a long-lasting finish if not exposed to intense sunlight – and it comes in a wide range of colours. Whether you like the charm of natural wood or the style of more dramatic shades, Cuprinol delivers playful versatility with an adaptable palette.

Ultra-tough and specially formulated to use on all types of timber decking, this product prevents wood cracking and splitting. It becomes shower-proof in less than an hour, but we still recommend applying it on a sunny day when temperatures exceed 5°C.

Suitable to use on all garden wood, the product is safe for pets and plants. It is supplied in 2.5L tins and covers up to 20m²/litre. This excellent covering power will save you a lot of varnish in the long run, meaning that the apparently expensive price is actually a good deal.

Our favourite trait of this product is its contemporary colour palette which includes the popular Urban Slate. We also like the anti-slip finish that helps to make decking much safer underfoot than untreated wood.

The protective film also prevents the formation of mould and green algae, thanks to an incorporated algicide. Drying to a semi-transparent finish, the varnish stains and protects while highlighting the natural beauty of wood.


• Ultra-resistant decking stain formulated to resist intense use and heavy weather. It forms a protective coat that resists all elements.
• Durable finish resists peeling and cracking. A yearly recoating of the surface is typically enough to ensure long-lasting protection.
• Cuprinol stain protects wood from cracking and splitting, prevents mould and algae growth and provides a non-slip coating.
• Semi-transparent finish highlights the natural beauty of timber decking. The product is safe with pets and plants.
• Shower-proof formulation becomes impermeable in only one hour.


• The varnish dries to a much lighter colour than expected.
• Although weather resistant, the product doesn’t withstand intense sun.

Blackfriar anti slip decking coating

A micro-aggregate compound yields slip resistance on wet surfaces.

In the anti-slip decking coating range, Blackfriar makes a bold statement with its micro-aggregate formulated varnish that yields slip resistance and provides excellent coverage. The only reason why this product is not our favourite is its solvent-based formulation which is toxic and flammable.

Hazards aside, the product is suitable for exterior timber decking, walkways, and other exterior wood surfaces. It only comes in a clear textured finish that highlights the natural colour of hardwood and softwood, but that’s more than enough thanks to the quality of the paint.

The protective coating stops moisture from making its way into the wood, preventing it from cracking. Mould and algae growth is also inhibited, and the varnish is easy to apply with a paintbrush or roller. Although the viscosity allows the application with a spray, we wouldn’t recommend it because cleaning up the varnish afterwards is a real pain.

Coverage is up to 9m²/litre and two coats are sufficient to achieve satisfactory results. But the drying time is long. Touch drying in about 6 hours, the varnish accepts a new coat in 12 hours (when applied in ideal conditions) and hard dries completely in 3 days.


• Ideal for timber decking and other exterior wood surfaces, Blackfriar varnish provides a slip-resistant surface.
• Clear textured finish enhances the beauty of natural wood and matches with all styles and landscapes.
• Easy to apply with a roller or paintbrush, the product covers up to 9m²/litre.


• Blackfriar is a solvent-based decking paint which is toxic, environmentally unfriendly and flammable. Avoid using it in extreme temperatures.
• The varnish has a long drying time. The surface touch dries in 6 hours and can be recoated after 12 hours in ideal conditions.
• The product can’t be thinned and sometimes it gets very viscous.

ronseal rescue paint

Good value decking paint ideal to cover small surface imperfections.

Ronseal’s Decking Rescue paint is an excellent product to consider if you want to save your old, worn decking. Available in 10 lively and contemporary colours, the paint is supplied in 2.5L tins and covers up to 8m²/litre when used on ridged boards.

The paint is suitable to use on all exterior hardwood and softwood surfaces, providing colour protection. An opaque finish covers unflattering grey wood while the thick formulation smoothens rough surfaces and fills small cracks and holes.

Ideal to use in all areas, the product has good moisture resistance. However, the durability is not always the best. In most cases, it takes about six months for the first signs of wear and tear to show. The varnish might last longer in low traffic areas, but don’t expect a coat applied in spring to withstand winter.

The colours, on the other hand, are bright and beautiful. The range includes 10 contemporary choices that completely excludes natural and clear finishes. Undoubtedly a great product if your deck is on its last legs and you need to prolong it a little longer.


• Opaque colour decking paint covers wood imperfections and the unflattering greyish shade of untreated wood.
• Suitable to use on ridged and smooth planed boards, the product has a covering power of up to 8m²/litre.
• Contemporary colours restore and revive old decking; two coats are enough to achieve a satisfactory result.
• Easy to apply with a paintbrush or roller and easy to clean with soapy water.


• The product lasts for a short time; recoating every six months is good practice with this paint.
• Colour dries totally different than indicated on the tin.



• Decking paint
• Sandpaper


• Wire brush
• Paintbrushes
• Roller/Sprayer


Step 1 – Prepare the surface
Painting wood decking is a simple operation, but it’s essential to prepare the surface to achieve a satisfactory result.

If the decking is new, we wouldn’t recommend painting it right away. Leave the timber to weather for at least 12 months. In this way, the paint will penetrate the deeper layers of your outdoor flooring, providing a superior protection.

On a previously painted surface, it is essential to remove flaking or peeling old paint. This simple procedure is carried out with sandpaper or with a wire brush. Regardless of the method, remove old paint carefully, avoiding damage to the surface.

Clean all the dust and make sure the surface is crystal clear and dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 2 – Paint Your Timber Decking
Wood decking paint is one of the few coatings that doesn’t require priming. Once the surface is clean and dry, you can proceed with painting.

The best way to apply the product is with a sprayer, but we don’t recommend this method if the paint or stain is solvent-based. Water-based paint is easy to clean and more suitable to use with an electric tool.

Solvent-based varnish is best applied with a roller, paying attention to apply even layers. Leave the first coat to dry as instructed before applying the second coat, then leave the surface to cure for at least three days before exposing it to heavy footfall.

You might also want to look at introducing non slip decking solutions like reinforced grit strips. These should prevent any unsavoury slips or trips on your fresh surface!