What is Timber Oil?

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Timber oil, also known as wood oil or wood finish, is a type of protective coating applied to wood surfaces to enhance their durability and appearance. It typically consists of a blend of natural oils, such as linseed oil or tung oil, along with other additives like resins and solvents.

Timber oil penetrates the wood to nourish and protect it from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental damage, while also enhancing the natural beauty of the wood grain. It is commonly used for outdoor furniture, decks, fences, and other exterior wood structures. Cabot is one of the most well-known brands that market their wood oil as “Timber Oil”.

What is Timber oil?

Cabot Timber Oil

As we mentioned above, we use timber oil to enhance the pure natural beauty of wood and to protect it. It is a blend of various oils, typically linseed oil and tung oil.

It also contains additives like solvents and pigments. Timber oil supposedly nourishes the wood and prevents water from damaging it.

The coating of timber oil also imparts a certain degree of resistance to mildew and protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Key Features of Timber Oil

  • Timber oil can penetrate the wood to nourish and beautify it.
  • It minimizes color streaking and lap marks.
  • The wood becomes resistant to mildew and damage from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • You can use timber oil on all types of wood, including hardwoods.
  • Timber oil accentuates the wood grain, thereby highlighting the character of the wood.
  • It also imparts a certain degree of water resistance to the wood.

Timber Decking Oil Recipe

Stock photo of deck of residential house

There is a category of timber oil that we use for finishing and maintaining outdoor decking. We call this type of oil timber decking oil. Here is one of the most popular recipes  for timber decking oil:

In a preferably stainless steel container, 11 parts of mineral turps to 4 parts of linseed oil. Add 1 part of terobene (which serves as a drying agent). You can scale up or down the quantities depending on the size of your job.

The above formula will cost you roughly 50%  of the commercially available pre-mixed timber oil that you get from the market.

How to Apply Timber Oil

Cabot Australian Timber Oil

There are specific procedures to be followed while applying timber oil, but if you know how to do it, then you will find the procedure quite simple. Given below are the necessary steps that you need to take to apply timber oil to exterior wooden surfaces.

Before Application

Here we discuss how to apply exterior timber oil. Ensure the temperature is above 40°F for at least 48 hours before using the oil. Postpone your application if there is rain forecasted within 24 hours of your job.

Before you begin, you should perform a splash test. This involves sprinkling water on the surface of the wood that you want to finish. If the surface absorbs the water within 5 seconds, it is porous and ready for treatment. If the sprinkled water forms beads on the surface of the wood and does not readily absorb into the wood, it means that you have to prep the wood. You can do this by sanding the wood with fine-grit Sandpaper and washing it with solvents like paint thinner.

Keep your brushes and the timber oil ready to use. Ensure that you have adequate ventilation in the area where you will apply the oil. Timber oil contains volatile solvents and chemicals that can be harmful if exposed to the eyes or ingested. It is also a highly combustible material, so be sure to take adequate fire prevention precautions like keeping a fire extinguisher at hand or a bucket of water.

Cover any nearby shrubs and plants and move objects that may come in the splash zone. You should not store timber oil at temperatures below 32°F.


Since you cannot apply timber oil to painted surfaces, you need to remove old paint by sanding or scraping. Take adequate precautions while sanding and scraping by wearing a respirator and safety goggles. Also, make sure that the surface of the wood is free of oil, grease, or any other contaminants. Standard deck cleaning liquid available at your local hardware store should be sufficient to eliminate these contaminants. Once the surface of the wood is clear of debris and impurities, it is ready to apply the timber oil.

During Application

Be careful about mixing different products as they may not be compatible with each other. If you have to add thinner, do so cautiously without shaking the mixture too much. Stir the mixture properly but avoid shaking the can to prevent the formation of bubbles.

You can apply a small trial patch of the timber oil to a surface that is not visible to see the final result. If you have to make any adjustments, do so before applying the timber oil to the full project. Be sure to apply the oil onto the wood at the same rate the wood absorbs the oil. Wipe off any excess oil to avoid drips and blotches from forming.

It should take about 8 hours for timber oil to dry enough to touch the surface, but the job will be ready for use only after 24 hours.

After Application

Use mineral spirits to clean up your brushes and equipment according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Then you can rinse everything in clean water. Clear the area and put up a sign to indicate that the surfaces are wet to prevent enough inadvertent touching. Ensure all windows are open before leaving the site.

Precautions While Using Timber Oil

  • Timber oil is harmful and even fatal if swallowed.
  • It is a highly combustible material. Ensure that fire preventive measures are taken while handling this material.
  • Do not place Timber oil near an open flame or a heat source.
  • If timber oil gets splashed in the eyes, immediately wash with cold, clean water for 15 minutes.
  • Despite using a respirator, if you feel nauseous or experience dizziness, then leave the site immediately.


Mastering the application of timber oil requires following a specific procedure, however, no professional expertise is necessary. By following the outlined steps, remarkable results can be achieved in your woodworking endeavors. We hope the information provided here will prove beneficial, empowering you to maximize the benefits of timber oil in your future projects.