How to Paint a Deck

When it comes to painting your deck, thorough prep is key to good-looking results that last.
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BPF_original_playhouse-exterior_entry-deck-horizontal_h

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

By: John Riha

Painting your deck is a great way to bring vibrant color to your outdoor living area. Typically, homeowners paint railings, stairs, and posts but stain the decking. That’s because stain tends to hold up better to foot traffic than paint.

Nevertheless, painting decking boards is definitely possible. Although painting completely obscures the grain, you’ll be able to give your decking surface unmatched personality and pizzazz. Deck painting ideas include patterns, such as checkerboards and stripes, or even faux rugs.

If you’re planning a new deck and thinking of painting your decking boards, you’ll want to apply a good quality primer to all sides of the boards before installation. It’s a bit of a hassle to primer all sides of decking boards individually, but that’ll go a long way toward fending off moisture from underneath your deck and helps keep decking boards stable. Otherwise, changes in soil moisture and humidity could cause expansion and contraction of decking boards, stressing out your paint job and causing paint to peel and chip.

Deck paint can be either oil-based or acrylic — both are good products. Oil-based paint has the advantage of being slower-drying, which makes outdoor application easier and more mistake-free. Acrylic paints have less VOCs and clean up easier.

Another option is solid color stains. They’re close to paints in terms of performance, and they’re made to withstand foot traffic. They’re not as tough as paint and colors are somewhat limited.

Deck paint is sold under various labels, such as “deck and concrete paint” and “porch paint.” Deck paint is specially formulated to withstand harsh elements and constant foot traffic. It is thicker than regular exterior paints, and usually includes a mold an mildew inhibitor. Most products claim a high degree of slip-resistance.

Painting An Outdoor Deck 02:01

Follow this easy guide for painting and accenting your outdoor deck.

Many products labeled as deck paint are designed to restore old decks. They penetrate and fill small cracks and cover up stains and other minor flaws. For proper adhesion, good preparation is a must, which includes completely removing any old finish. Steps include:

• Fixing any popped nail and screw heads.

• Filling any cracks larger than 1/4 inch wide with epoxy putty; stain to match the surrounding deck boards.

• Using a stain and sealer remover on any wood that’s previously been finished with paint, stain, or a clear sealer.

• Applying a deck wash product to completely clean all wood surfaces. Allow to dry thoroughly, at least 48 hours.

• Sanding any ridges or lifted grain with 80-grit sandpaper; cleaning up any dust.

• Protecting adjacent surfaces, such as siding, with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting.

• Covering nearby plants with plastic to prevent damage.

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