Posted in Features

Wood stain and how to apply it

Wood stain and how to apply it Posted on 9 May 2024

A photograph of Osmo woodstain cans and brushes

Decorating Matters Editor Neil Braidwood helps you get the garden woodwork in shipshape condition.

As spring arrives, customers are starting to think about lounging in the garden. But gardens often need a spring clean after a long, cold, wet winter. 

Sheds, fences, furniture and especially decking will need a spruce up – and it’s worth having some knowledge of the products on the market if you are hired to treat exterior wooden surfaces.

Depending on the condition of the wood, it will probably need to be cleaned and stripped of any previous coatings before you can begin work. 

I spoke to Paul Long, Technical Lead at Osmo UK, a global firm which started life as a timber company
in Germany more than 140 years ago. He explained why Osmo knows a thing or two about wood.


“When Osmo started, it had a sawmill and was selling timber products. It used to buy wood stains from a third party until it realised that it might be able to create the stains in house.

“The products today are generally made up of a blend of vegetable oils or vegetable hard waxes. The predominant oils tend to be sunflower, thistle and soya oil, although we do use others. Carnauba and candelilla wax are the waxes that we use. We blend the oils and waxes differently, to get the properties that we are after. So, for interior use, we’d need more wax to make the product harder wearing, and externally, we would need more oil to give better weatherproofing. 

“It’s important to note, that because we source our oils from different parts of Europe and the world, that the same products can look different. I’ve seen PolyX-Oil in pink, lilac and grey – in the tin – but we can guarantee that when it goes on the wood the finish will be universal. 

“Osmo UK has been in Britain for 35 years and around 95 per cent of our sales are in the liquid products, however, Osmo still deals in timber, but mainly in Europe. 

“In my 21 years at Osmo UK, I have seen the outdoor range expand dramatically and, in the last 18 months, the company has developed tinting machines – which for us – is a gamechanger. Gone are the days of having to ship multiple colours around. Now we just need a few bases and the colours can be added in the store. These are exclusively in the Bathgate and Inverness branches of The Paint Shed. Customers can select from 120 different colours – something to complement every garden!

“In terms of prepping your wood to take an Osmo product, you should first find out what kind of wood it is. Not all woods are equal. Because Osmo has its roots in timber, we know what types of wood respond to our different products. Believe it or not, we like softwoods, because they have a uniform quality and can take the oils right down into the fibre of the wood. 

“Tropical hardwoods, by their very nature, have a high oil content. So, if you had a brand new tropical hardwood deck to treat, we would typically say to you – come back in 12 weeks. The reason for that is because the hardwood retains its oils for decades, so there would be no space for our penetrating oil in the wood. Better to leave it for 12 weeks for some of those oils to dissipate and weather away before applying an Osmo product. This is where our knowledge of different timbers comes into its own. 

“When dealing with pre-painted timber, it’s a different story. Our Wood Reviver Power-Gel is really a form of oxalic acid and can be scrubbed into a grooved surface such as decking. Once on, you leave it and rinse (preferably not using a power washer as this just pushes water and dirt back into the grain of the wood). After 48 hours, the wood is ready for applying your Osmo product. This method of cleaning is a much gentler and easier process than sanding, however, you may still need to do that depending on what you are dealing with. We would suggest from 120-150 grit. That might sound coarse, but we require the wood surface to be more open, so that it takes the product better. Because the wax is suspended in the oil, the oil soaks into the wood and the wax grips onto the wood fibres to create whatever finish you have chosen – be it silk or gloss. 

“Choose your method of application according to what you are doing. A natural bristle brush is good for most items, whereas rollers can have the capacity to be overloaded with product and they can leave tramlines. Less is more is the mantra here at Osmo. We do pre-thinned versions of some products for spray guns, for the simple reason that we want the product to go on as we would expect it to. That way, we can be sure that the product you have used is reliable.”



Owatrol UK produces a range of high quality, long-lasting coatings which offer exceptional protection and superior finish. Many of the company’s products were established 70 years ago, so they are tried and tested.

Owatrol UK’s wood care products provide long-term protection against the elements and the wide range of finishes suit everyone. The range takes you from surface preparation to the final finish. There are products for new, weathered and previously coated surfaces, for both hard and softwood, as well as specific products for decking, sheds and fences.

We spoke to Gary Coniam – Managing Director at Owatrol UK, to find out more about the company’s range – starting with preparation. 

“A common saying around Owatrol is, ‘Preparation is key’. As with all coating projects, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Preparing surfaces for a finish is just as important as choosing the finishing product.

“The most common issues we see with external coatings is when the surfaces have not been properly prepared or when a coating has been applied directly over a previous finish. We understand that while everyone wants to save on costs, compromising on quality for exterior wood care usually ends up costing more in both time and money.

“It’s crucial to understand that the longevity and effectiveness of any wood care application heavily depend on the initial groundwork. Proper preparation ensures that the coating bonds effectively, leading to lasting protection against the elements.”

Decking Paint

“Owatrol UK’s Decking Paint is different to other paints on the market as it contains a bonding primer, called Emulsa-Bond. This gives it excellent adherence without the need for lengthy preparation and priming and so in most cases, only two coats are needed.

“We are so confident in its abilities, that we’ve guaranteed it against peeling and flaking for 15 years when applied to vertical surfaces and five years on horizontal surfaces, when applied correctly onto
bare wood.

“The paint is available in 35 colours with a matt finish. It can be used on all wood types – softwood, hardwood and modified wood (such as accoya) both new and weathered. It can also be applied to masonry surfaces such as stucco. When it comes to applying a maintenance coat, just clean the area with Net-Trol and recoat as necessary.

“All previous coatings must be completely removed before the application of Decking Paint. This is because the Emulsa-Bond primer will not adhere well to anything other than wood and, as such, any stains, oils, paints etc. will create a barrier and therefore the desired finish will not be achievable.

Net-Trol wood cleaner and brightener

“Net-Trol is a powerful water-based wood cleaner and brightener which restores greyed and weathered wood back to its natural colour without the use of bleach and therefore will not damage the wood’s fibres.

“It effortlessly removes both surface and ground-in dirt leaving the wood looking bright and vibrant, ready for whatever finish you want. Net-Trol can restore the original colour of the wood in as little as 15 minutes with no laborious and time-consuming sanding required.

To apply Owatrol Net-Trol, you need to:

  • Wet the surface with clean water
  • Apply Net-Trol with a synthetic brush or roller
  • Scrub the surface with a stiff nylon/synthetic brush
  • Leave for approximately 10-20 minutes
  • Scrub the surface while rinsing with water or use
    a pressure washer (maximum 60 bar)
  • Leave to dry (approximately 48 hours) and then apply your chosen finish.

“Net-Trol can also be used to neutralise wood after using a stripping product such as Aquanett or Dilunett – this is a very important step, as it stops the active ingredient from continuing to work and helps balance out any colour discrepancies, allowing for a more uniform finish.”

Saturating exterior wood Textrol

“Textrol is Owatrol UK’s most popular saturating wood oil finish for exterior soft and hardwood. It is a saturating product which penetrates deep into the wood to protect it from within – this means that there’s no film on the surface and as such, it will not peel or flake.

“Textrol enhances the natural beauty of the wood while providing a mildew-resistant finish, with exceptional and long-lasting protection from the effects of moisture, weathering and UV rays.

“It is applied ‘wet-on-wet’ which saves time as you don’t need to wait for coats to dry during application
and the maintenance is easy – with no stripping or sanding required – simply clean with Net-Trol and
re-coat as required.

“Available in eight shades, including clear, with a matt finish, application of Owatrol Textrol is quick and easy:

  • Apply Textrol and allow it to saturate into the wood (15-30 minutes)
  • Apply a second coat and allow it to saturate for
    15-30 minutes
  • If required, repeat until the wood is fully saturated
    i.e. will accept no more oil.

“All previous coatings must be completely removed, and the surface must be clean, dry and free from grease, grime, dirt or mildew before the application of Textrol. This is because Textrol is a saturating product, so its place is inside the wood – as such, any previous coatings or contaminants will create a barrier and therefore will not be able to achieve the desired finish.”  



This family-run business has been going for more than 35 years. The company produces high-end varnishes, decorative finishes and wood oils and coatings for interior and exterior use. All developed and made on site at its factory in Somerset.

Polyvine Decking and Fencing Oil offers superior UV protection and the product can be tinted by using an oil colourant from the Polyvine range. Designed to be a one coat finish, it’s touch dry in 12 hours. Available in 2.5 or 5 litre tins.

For garden furniture, reach for Polyvine’s polymer based Exterior Wood Varnish. It contains biocides which can reduce algae, mildew and fungal attack and dries within 1-2 hours.