Having a clean and freshly painted wooden deck can improve your outdoor living quality immensely. Not only will a high-quality wooden deck complete your home’s aesthetic, it may also improve your deck’s functionality, as it can hold outdoor furniture safely and without the constant dangers of wood shedding or cracking problems.

In the case that you are considering staining your wooden deck but have no idea where to start, we have put together an easy beginner’s guide to wood finishing for you! In this blog, we will cover the debate between water-based staining products and oil-based staining products, as well as some staining products and brands that we recommend to make your staining process quick and simple.

Water Based Versus Oil Based Products for Exterior Woods When it comes to a clean and long-lasting deck finish, the most important decision to make is whether to use water-based paint products or oil-based paint products for your exterior wood. Oil-based products have traditionally been all-round better than water-based, however, as the industry develops, the pros and cons of the different types of staining and painting products have grown closer. There are a few conditions which may determine which one is more suited for your particular desired wood finish.

A water-based deck product may be a better choice for your exterior wood over an oil stain in the case that you are looking for longer colour retention. Water-based paints also fade less compared to oil stains and are permeable with no blistering.

If you are staining your deck for the first time, a water-based stain may also be easier to apply, as such stains have a quick drying time and can be easily cleaned up with water. Water-based stains are non-flammable and odor-free, making the staining process simple and safe for beginners as well. Some experts also believe water-based stains may last longer on exterior woods under normal circumstances than oil-based stains, as they allow for the wood underneath to breathe and do not trap moisture in the timber. They are also more environmentally friendly than oil-based staining products, however require a more thorough surface preparation and also more frequent touch-ups in the long term.

We also recommend using the correct painting tools and relying on only the best wood staining brands to make the staining process smooth sailing and simple for you.

In contrast, oil-based stains may also be beneficial for exterior wooden decks in particular circumstances. Oil-based stains provide deeper penetration into woods and are also more durable in harsh conditions. Its long drying time in comparison to water-based stains makes it easier for painters to apply an even coat when as well. For those individuals who love the natural rustic wood, oil-based stains may be a better option to consider than water-based stains as wood grain shows through an oil-based stain better than through a water-based one.

When it comes to stain application, there are also slight differences between the ideal application methods for water-based and oil-based products to keep in mind. For example, some stains such as Flood’s Spa-N-Deck require the deck to be wet before application. Wet surfaces help with certain products’ colour absorption rate and also mean that the job can be done in one day, rather than over a course of several days (and waiting for stains to dry before applying a new coat).

However, this application method may not be effective on other stains, as wet surfaces may instead disrupt even application and cause blotches to appear in the stain. Always check your staining product’s instructions first before application to ensure you are using the correct application method – whether it be a water-based or oil-based staining product.

Recommended Brands, Products and Tools

Using the right high-quality products and tools is just as important as following the correct wood staining procedure when it comes to the overall wood finishing process. There are many brands, tools and products out there in the market today so it may be incredibly overwhelming for a beginner to research all the different brands and find one that is best for their wooden deck. For this reason, we have compiled a detailed and comprehensive list of the best deck products and tools for you!


Almost 150 years old, Flood is a well-established wood paint company and specialises in wood care and paint additive products. Flood sells a wide variety of wood stain products, including transparent and translucent finishes, semi-transparent finishes, solid colour finishes and surface preparation products. Flood products are stocked in many retailers in Australia and New Zealand, including Paint Access! Here is a list of the Flood products we recommend and why they may be a wise choice for your wood finishing project:

Flood Spa-N-Deck 4 Litres Acrylic Wood Finish

This product is part of the advanced Flood Spa-N-Deck line of wood finishes and is known for its durability and long-term protection from cracks, flaking and peeling. The Spa-N-Deck wood finish lasts three to five times longer than other oils in the market and is designed to be applied while wet to get the job done fast. In this way, the Flood Spa-N-Deck 4 Litres Acrylic Wood Finish is a little unconventional as users will need to apply it onto wet surfaces so that the stain is able to take advantage of the wood’s natural moisture to penetrate into wood pores. Available in a wide variety of deck stain colours such as cedar, redwood, walnut, jarrah and merbau kwila, the Flood Spa-N-Deck 4 Litres Acrylic Wood Finish is the stain we recommend for an aesthetic and long-lasting wood deck finish.

Flood WoodPrep Pre-Paint Treatment

Flood’s WoodPrep Pre-Paint Treatment product can help in simplifying the way you prepare your wood prior to applying wood finishes. It is easy to use and an economical pre-treatment solution for all timber and wood types. This treatment concentration is able to remove stains, dirt and any weathered parts of your deck as well as bring back the natural colour of your greying timber.

It also does not contain any bleach, so will not damage surrounding plants in your yard when diluted. Keep in mind that a 4 litre bottle of this concentrated product can make 8 litres of preparation treatment when mixed 50/50 with water.

Flood PowerLift Deck Stain Remover

Flood’s PowerLift Deck Stain Remover is an improvement to others existing in the market today because it is designed to smoothly remove dirt or brighten up the complexion of a wooden deck, without being too strong and damaging the timber itself. This remover is useful in cases that you want to remove a previous layer of water-based or oil-based stain on your deck.

Depending on the coverage needed, this remover can cover between seven to twelve square meters per litre of stain remover used. This product is completely safe to use on all types of woods as it does not contain bleach, while coming ready for use in the bottle.


Sikkens is another reputable brand which specialises in decorative wood finishes in both the residential and industrial setting, as well as products in vehicle refinishes and yacht finishes. Founded in the Netherlands in 1792, Sikkens has grown to be an impressive global brand with well developed stain formulas and high-quality coatings, which aim to enhance the attractiveness of wood and protect it during even the harshest weather conditions. Two products we highly recommend from Sikkens for your wood staining project are:

Sikkens Cetol BL Deck & Wood Cleaner

Sikkens Cetol BL Deck & Wood Cleaner

This product is a fast-acting gel which revitalises and brightens the complexion of wooden services. It is most commonly used for large surface areas and is incredibly easy to clean and use. Note that for the product to have the best effect on your wood, your deck needs to be clean of any weathered wood and dirt, and your deck needs to be wet during the entire application process. The cleaner also needs to dry before you can apply the second finishing coat.

Sikkens Cetol HLSe

The Sikkens Cetol HLSe is a three-coat decking oil system for exterior wood decoration and decking, featuring weather resistant functions, transparency in application and a highly water replling nature. It can be used as either a base coat for other staining products or a stand-alone product for your wooden deck. This stain is also known for its impressive durability as it repels unwanted moisture while also allowing wood underneath to breathe, is resistant to mould, blistering and peeling, and is easy to maintain. Available in a 1 litre size and 5 litre size, the Sikkens Cetol HLSe is a highly reviewed product that may be perfect for your wood finishing needs.

Express Rollers

When it comes to convenient and high-quality wood stains and finishes, we cannot forget about the tools needed to paint your deck. Express Rollers is a long-time staple in the painting tool industry and makes the painting process all the more simple for expert painters and beginners alike. There is one product in particular that we would like to recommend to make your wood staining process quick and easy:

Express Rollers Lambswool Floor Applicator 230mm Block/Handle

This Express Rollers applicator is designed for large floor finishes with a Moreno Lambswool Applicator pad sturdily attached to a 1.2 metre pole. The pole is also detachable and can be used for other similar applicator heads. Lambswool has long been considered a great applicator for stains on decks, woods, timber and slates due to its ability to spread products evenly while also not soaking up too much of it. You can also purchase the Moreno Lambswool Applicator head separately to the pole in the case that you already have one to attach it to.

Although wood finishing may be a difficult and tedious task, it is often extremely rewarding as it can completely revamp the aesthetic quality of your home and while also providing you with additional functional benefits. For the best deck finish, we recommend that you settle on a type of stain that is most suited to your type of wooden deck and matches your level of staining experience.

Researching and using the correct decking products will not only leave your deck looking great, but will also guarantee longevity and less maintenance work for you in the long run. If you’d like to support local wood staining businesses, visit our blog here for more information on the best wood finishes by Australian brands!