Coating: Choosing between an oil and a stain

Oils and stains are both semi-transparent

Picking colour is an important decision and once a colour has been applied to timber, it is a big job to take it back. The first thing to know is that both oils and stains are semi-transparent which means they allow the character of the timber underneath to come through but it also means the colour and condition of the timber underneath will impact the final look. Always test 2-3 coats of colour on an off cut or in an inconspicuous area before applying the colour to the whole area.

So what’s the different between and oil and a stain?

When choosing what coating to put on your timber there are two key considerations

  1. How it will look
  2. How it will last


How it will look: oils enhance natural colour, stains will change it

An oil will enhance the natural look of timber. When you like the colour if your timber the way it is, an oil is recommended to enhance the natural appearance of the timber colour and grain. Intergrain® UltraDeck® Timber Oil is a water based, lightly pigmented oil and will offer long lasting protection compared to a traditional oil based coating whilst enhancing the natural colour and characteristics of your timber.

A stain contains mid-strength pigment and is deigned to change the colour of your timber. For lighter timbers or timber that has weathered and lost a lot of natural colour, a stain can give the timber a beautiful, rich colour. A stain will completely transform the look of your timber and provide exceptional durability. Intergrain UltraDeck Timber Stain is a long lasting, high performance water based stain which comes in 16 popular colours.


How it will last: the stronger the pigment, the longer it will last

While both UltraDeck Timber Oil and UltraDeck Timber Stain are long lasting, water based coatings, the level of pigment does mean that one lasts longer than the other.

An oil contains a small amount of pigmentation which is need to ensure the timber is adequately protected from the damaging effects of UV and foot traffic. The amount of pigment in an oil makes it less durable to it’s stain counter part.

A stain contains extra pigment and offers further protection from harsh weather conditions and foot traffic.


Next: Use the Colour Visualiser to view colour on different timber types