Best product for decking, railing, etc.

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Well, it's time to revisit the whole business of tarting up the "acres"
of outdoor decking and railing which we inherited with this property and
I'ld be grateful for people's thoughts.

I went quite deeply into the whole subject four years ago and decided
that Sadolin was the best solution, largely because the manufacturers
said reapplication does not require any sanding preparation beforehand.
(You just reapply it.)  However, one tin of Sadolin was close to ?40, I
seem to recall, and we needed about 6 tins.  

Four whole years later, nearly all of the Sadolin on the horizontal
decking, that's all the flat decking that looks up at the sky, has gone.
 It's been worn off by rain, snow, frost, ice, and, probably, the sun
too.  The wood is almost grey again, no trace of Sadolin on most of it,
and ready to suck up another coat of something rich and brown.

The vertical railings and other sections of vertical wood are a
different matter.  The Sadolin on them has not worn off but it's become
thin and turned dark in colour.  It looks scrappy however because the
Sadolin on these vertical surfaces has become so thin that wasps don't
mind consuming it in summer in their quest for wood-fibre for
nest-building!  So these vertical surfaces are all dark brown with long
thin white streaks on them, where the wasps have been nibbling.

So, if we choose Sadolin this time round we'll need two shades: a shade
to darken the flat horizontal surfaces, and a shade with a degree of
light (orange/yellow) colourant in it for the uprights - otherwise the
uprights will end up looking black. And then following a good hosing
down and a thorough drying out, Sadolin can just be painted over the
surfaces.  The problem is its price.

Now last year we actually added a small area of brand new decking and on
this we used a Wilko's decking treatment.  They do a range, from clear
to dark, and their Sadolin "equivalent" is half the price of Sadolin
(Just under ?20 a tin).  However, one full year later we have found that
the Wilko product has lifted in certain places, like a thin film of
pliable plastic, allowing water to easily get in underneath.  Great
disappointment.  This has happened particularly on the tops of uprights.
The Wilko's product has maintained a bond with the wood in those parts,
which is bad news because the tops of posts are the most vulnerable
parts in terms of lingering water and subsequent wood-rot.  The Wilko's
product seems to have adhered well to the fresh horizontal decking
planks but even on them it has lifted off in the form of plastic film in
a couple of small patches.  We'll see how much more may have lifted in
another year or two.

We were planning to recoat all the old decking with the Wilko's product
but now this is obviously not the way to go.  It looks like it's going
to have to be the very expensive Sadolin.

But can anybody recommend any other (cheaper) brand?

It's purely decorative treatment and we want a product that won't
require sanding away in another four years' time.


Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.
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Welcome to the nannyworld of eco-rubbish wood preservatives. Get
yourself something decent, ie creosote, it'll last many times as long.


Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.
NT wrote:
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And yes you can still buy it in reasonable quantities but not from the
sheds. eg

The jet black stuff has retained its colour over several years, although
it does still eventually fade a little in the sun.
No sign of any rot or decay though.

Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.
Bob Minchin wrote:

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Do you have to provide proof of your professional eligibility to purchase?
Or do they simply take your word for it?


Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.
Thanks, NT, Bob, and Bert.  Well, that's an interesting thought.  I
remember my father slapping creosote on our six-foot high wooden plank
fences.  Smelly stuff, and what he used was a very dark brown in colour.
 I remember it certainly soaked into the wood.  But I also remember that
as lad of 10 or so playing near it I had to be careful not to get it on
me because it stained skin and clothes and was somewhat oily.  

It's the oily bit that puts me off the idea of using it on decking.
Doesn't any oily product used on horizontal surfaces grab hold of dirt
and dust?  And what about people bringing the stain in on the soles of
their shoes?

But maybe creosote has been modified over the course of the past 40
years and is not now greasy and likely to transfer onto shoes etc?

I'll have to google it.

Thanks for the idea!

Any others?


Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.

Re. the possibility of using creosote on decking, a notice at

"From 30th June 2003 only 'Professional Users' can purchase & use 25 and
200 Litre sizes. This includes agricultural (farmers, small holders),
forestry and industrials. It is up to the professional person to conduct
a COSHH asessment & ensure that:
It should not be used in areas where is a risk of frequent skin contact
(e.g. *Garden furniture) -EC actual text*.
In parks or gardens.
It should not be used on any containers or pots that come into contact
with food stuffs.
Not for use on children?s play equipment."

And Wikipedia has a collection of information on the health aspects of
Creosote use at

"According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
(ATSDR), eating food or drinking water contaminated with high levels of
coal tar creosote may cause a burning in the mouth and throat, and
stomach pains. ATSDR also states that brief direct contact with large
amounts of coal tar creosote may result in a rash or severe irritation
of the skin, chemical burns of the surfaces of the eyes, convulsions and
mental confusion, kidney or liver problems, unconsciousness, and even
death. Longer direct skin contact with low levels of creosote mixtures
or their vapors can result in increased light sensitivity, damage to the
cornea, and skin damage. Longer exposure to creosote vapors can cause
irritation of the respiratory tract.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined
that coal tar creosote is probably carcinogenic to humans, based on
adequate animal evidence and limited human evidence. It is instructive
to note that the animal testing relied upon by IARC involved the
continuous application of creosote to the shaved skin of rodents. After
weeks of creosote application, the animals developed cancerous skin
lesions and in one test, lesions of the lung. The United States
Environmental Protection Agency has stated that coal tar creosote is a
probable human carcinogen based on both human and animal studies.[71] As
such, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
has set a permissible exposure limit of 0.2 milligrams of coal tar
creosote per cubic meter of air (0.2 mg/m3) in the workplace during an
8-hour day, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that
spills or accidental releases into the environment of one pound (0.454
kg) or more of creosote be reported to them.[72]

There is no unique exposure pathway of children to creosote. Children
exposed to creosote will probably experience the same health effects
seen in adults exposed to creosote. It is unknown whether children
differ from adults in their susceptibility to health effects from

A 2005 mortality study of creosote workers found no evidence supporting
an increased risk of cancer death, as a result of exposure to creosote.
Based on the findings of the largest mortality study to date of workers
employed in creosote wood treating plants, there is no evidence that
employment at creosote wood-treating plants or exposure to
creosote-based preservatives was associated with any significant
mortality increase from either site-specific cancers or non-malignant
diseases. The study consisted of 2,179 employees at eleven plants in the
United States where wood was treated with creosote preservatives. Some
workers began work in the 1940s to 1950s. The observation period of the
study covered 1979- 2001. The average length of employment was 12.5
years. One third of the study subjects were employed for over 15

The largest health effect of creosote is deaths caused by residential

Hmmm.  Not worth the risks, methinks.

Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.
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Were you planning to put it in your drinking water?

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Were you planning to paint yourself with it?

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Planning to keep a little on your skin for a long time?

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Planning to sit & sniff it for weeks at a time?

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Quite clearly wrongly. You quote the reason why later.

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And that is 1000x times as informative as the previous study, on
another species using conditions quite different to real world human
creosote use.

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Yes, its flammable. So is white spirit, so are lots of things.

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The only risk I see applying in your situation is flammability. Decent
wood prservatives do tend to be flammable.


Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.
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It does whiff at first, but that soon fades away.

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Perhaps youre right. I dont remember how long it takes for the wood to
stop being oily.

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Its the same old filth it always was. Now the good preservatives have
been banned, its the one effective one left.

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Re: Best product for decking, railing, etc.

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The decking would stink like an old goods siding all summer long,
while users of it would have to be careful they don't rub against it.

Creosote is great stuff, in its place.

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