I’ve just had a new cedar deck fitted in my back garden, and I’m wondering how long can or should I wait before staining it? Everybody I’ve asked so far has different advice to offer ranging from the company who fitted the deck to several shops. The installer suggested we seasonite it right away, and three shops I enquired at had three different opinions ranging from apply fencelife, deck oil, and leave it alone for about a year and then apply textrol. Confused. (Ann Connolly D12)


That’s right, everywhere you go you will be told something different, and there’s nothing more annoying than to find yourself torn between this and that opinion. Very few stores or timber merchants I’ve been into around Dublin know anything about how to treat decks and they would rather you just pick up anything with the word Deck written on it, pick up something, anything, don’t ask me any akward questions please, and just get out of here and leave me alone!  


Nobody seems to take the trouble or the time to learn anything and be in a position to pass on ‘proper information’ about the situation.


Decks are a relatively new phenomenon here and we have not got a lot of solid experience dealing with the protection of same. My view is if you need to know about how to live on snow and ice you ask the Eskimos, and the same applies to decks.


We need to look to countries that have been installing decks for decades. The most notable of these are of course the U.S.A. and Canada and decks have been around  ‘since time began’ well almost… look at any cowboy film and you will see Paw out there on his favourite rocker, pipe in hand watching the world go by, while Maw sits nearby, maybe doing her crochet! 


Come to think of it, I never once saw anybody applying any deck care product in any of those films, did you? They must have been in a bad way back then, with all those bullet holes and blood stains!


Anyway, whatever about cowboy films, there have been major technological developments in the whole area of deck care products over several decades and most of those have been in those countries. I spent some time there and, apart from the fact that there is a whole ‘deck care industry’ well established where the guy comes along in his ‘truck’ with all the gear, powerwasher etc and takes care of the lot, many people still do their own thing.


The advice you got from your deck installer was not far off the mark and what he described as ‘seasonite it’ referred to the application of a ‘new’ deck treatment called Seasonite which is available here. That material is very easy to apply, just one coat and you’re done, then you leave it for about a year and at that stage you can take care of the next stage of treating your deck. You could of course apply any of the deck stains available all over the place too, but, they usually don’t work very well on un-seasoned timber because the surface is too tight and will not let the material in properly.


The purpose of the Seasonite is to keep water and moisture out while the deck is seasoning and that helps prevent rain / sun / rain damage like warping, splitting, cupping and so on while it being seasoned. This preserves the integrity of the wood itself and lets out any pockets of moisture while keeping out any new moisture and rain. That product or application should not be regarded as the final job unless you deliberately want to achieve a ‘silvery look’ in which case all you need to do is re seasonite it every year or two.


A lot of people prefer to retain that natural look and that is something that can be done, but it is better not to think about doing that for about a year. So to summarise, I suggest you do as your deck installer advised and apply one good coat of Seasonite, which should be available in all main timber outlets and if you can’t find it you will find the source in your Golden Pages 01 section, under Timber Decking, in my book it is on page 1902.

Next year, clean the deck with one of those deck cleaners like Net-trol and then when dry, treat your deck with a deck oil. There are several qualities of deck oil out there to choose from and generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Some are clear like textrol as your installer recommended (which can be stained) and others are a plain oil colour.


If you don’t want to bother with the perfection oriented Seasonite process, wait a month or two, and apply any deck oil of your choice but before you do, do a simple test, apply a few drops of water on to the wood and if it soaks in relatively quickly, your wood should accept an oil (to varying degrees).


But if you go down this road, you should still clean the deck properly as suggested above because, even after a couple of months your deck will have gathered dirt that will hinder any treatment.  Now you are probably even more confused that when you started out on your quest!


Look on the bright side, when you have it all spik and span, you too can do just like Maw did back in the old days, sit out there and enjoy with your crochet or better still, a glass of bubbly (between the showers in your case).

Actually, if there are any deck care professionals out there in the greater Dublin area, please drop me a line c/o the Dublin People because I will probably be swamped with enquiries for that service now.