Stained Wood Deck

A Guide to Painting Your Deck: From Prep to Restoration

Applying paint or stain may seem like the simplest part of painting a deck, but deciding which type to use and what tools you need can be confusing.

Making deck painting an easier endeavor? Here are some helpful tips that will guide you through every step of the process.

Stained Wood Deck

Q. As a novice deck painter, I have already completed the essential preparation steps of scraping and sanding wood. But, what is the most efficient way to paint my deck? Should I choose a brush or roller? Are there any other alternatives that might be more suitable? Additionally, is there anything else I should be aware of while painting my deck? Any advice would be much appreciated!

A. It’s clear you’ve taken time to plan this essential first step; now read on to discover why preparation is key before painting a deck, as well as how to select the ideal paint for the job.

If you’re planning to paint your deck this summer, WT Ross of Palm Garden Painting in Port St Lucie, FL says that success depends on properly prepping the surface. According to WT, loose paint must be removed and dirt and oil must be scrubbed away before painting can take place.

Sanding off rough patches is also highly recommended to make sure your deck is ready and primed for painting! After it has been thoroughly cleaned, sanding any remaining rough patches will ensure it looks its best!

STEP 1: Clean the Deck with a Hose

For your deck to look spotless when applying paint or stain, it must be meticulously cleaned before beginning this step.

Deck cleaning products can easily be integrated with a garden hose dispenser; all that’s necessary to do is use a utility broom or similar brush to thoroughly scrub away dirt and grime before finally rinsing off the area.

When washing decks for optimal results, consider taking into account these points:

  • Deck Cleaners: For a sparkling deck, try an all-purpose cleaner! This powerful solution will get rid of any dirt, grime, or debris that has built up over time. If staining rather than painting your decks is desired, check which type of cleaner the stain manufacturer recommends for that purpose.
  • Brighteners: For wood decking that appears discolored and splotchy, using a cleaner with brightening agents can help restore its original color. These products contain bleaching components that reduce the visibility of stains or dark spots on the surface. A fresh coat of stain afterward will make your deck look like new again!
  • Mold and Mildew Prevention: Preventative measures are key for a successful deck painting or staining job. If mold or mildew has already started forming on your existing deck, use a cleaner with added mildewcide before beginning the project.
  • Skip the Power Wash: Pressure washers are great for getting rid of dirt and grime, yet their high-powered water streams can do considerable harm to your decking. To protect wood surfaces from being damaged by a power washer, first, apply an effective cleaning solution specifically designed for decks. If necessary, use a stiff nylon brush after the application of this product to scrub away any remaining residue. Afterward, rinse off with your garden hose’s jet nozzle before letting dry completely before reapplying sealant or other treatments.

Step 2: Scrape and Sand the Deck

For optimal results, it is essential to strip away any loose or peeling paint from your deck before repainting.

Furthermore, adding an extra layer of refinement by sanding down rough surfaces will yield the optimal outcome.

 Tools for painting: mask, brush, gloves, and cutter

Begin with a wire brush

Make sweeping strokes to remove any loose paint chips from your painted decking. A wire brush can quickly eliminate most of these flakes, though it may not be able to eliminate all of them.

Follow Up with a Scraper

Paint scrapers come in two varieties: flat and curved. Flat scrapers resemble putty knives, allowing you to angle the blade towards the decking’s surface and gently press to slide beneath loose paint chips for removal; however, be careful not to gouge any wood with this reliable yet potentially damaging tool.

On a curved scraper, its gently arced end allows it to be pulled rather than pushed – quickly eliminating old layers of loosening paint.

Don’t Skimp on Sanding

Scraping will not completely remove all paint from a deck, and that’s okay! Scraping can eliminate loose pieces of paint while any stuck-on areas will still adhere to subsequent layers.

Sanding for smoother transitions between bare wood and painted surfaces requires more time; power sanders are ideal for expediting this step; however, if one isn’t available, try using a hand-held sanding sponge instead.

Additionally, use either a hammer or nailset beforehand to ensure no nails remain sticking out before beginning your project.

STEP 3: Apply Paint or Other Finish to Deck

Before opening any can of paint or stain, it is essential to tape off all surrounding areas in your house or garage.

After having finished all other preparation work, don’t overlook this simple but essential step.

Additionally, selecting the proper tools for applying the new finish must be taken into consideration.

  • Roller: Paint rollers are the go-to tool for painting, as they make the task far more efficient and ensure an even coat of paint. Plus, with a connection handle and extension pole attachment, you don’t have to worry about hunching over or crouching down – simply stand up straight instead!
  • Stain Pads: Stain pads make applying stain to non-painted wood decking a quick and efficient task. Made of absorbent foam, they come with the added advantage of being able to attach an extension pole for even greater efficiency.
  • Brushes: For painting in tight places, such as deck railings or any area where a roller won’t fit, keep some brushes nearby. This will make the job go much smoother!
  • Never neglect the underside of your deck. If it’s easily accessible, be sure to apply a coat of sealant or paint on all sides of each board – this is especially critical in areas with high humidity and heavy rainfall as opposed to dry climates. Failure to do so could allow moisture into the wood which could reduce its lifespan as a paint job.

Before You Begin Your DIY Project

Before embarking on any DIY ventures, it is essential that the paint you purchase can be used for deck flooring.

According to WT, “The paint must be specifically designated as suitable for a horizontal surface”. If this step isn’t taken beforehand, your project could become an uphill struggle with unsatisfactory results.

Exterior paints offer some degree of water resistance, but house paint is specifically designed for vertical surfaces like siding where raindrops won’t accumulate.

Contrary to popular belief, deck or patio surfaces may still harbor small puddles after heavy rainfall. To prevent damage due to water accumulation in these horizontal areas, be sure to select floor or deck paint when repainting them.

If you are purchasing standard outdoor paint, ensure its description states it can also be applied on other flat surfaces!

 unpainted wood perfect for decks and floors

Stain vs. Paint

In the end, it comes down to personal preference when choosing between paint and stain; however, keep in mind that while paint offers greater thickness and longevity, the stain will require reapplication more frequently.

As a general guideline, deck stain is usually applied to unpainted wood surfaces because it not only adds color to the surface but also allows the natural grain of the wood to show through.

Deck stains come in a range of opacities; some provide just a subtle hue while others are semi-transparent or almost completely opaque.

The color and vibrancy of a stain are determined by its pigments. Most deck stains also include an additional sealer element that shields the wood from harsh weather elements.

Before deciding which product is ideal for your project–whether paint or stain–it’s essential to understand their differences.

Paint can effectively mask any flaws present and completely covers up all traces of grain within wood material, making it perfect for decks with replaced boards that have a different hue than those previously installed.

Applying a layer of paint will erase this distinction and give your deck an updated, uniform appearance!

If the deck is near ground level or in an environment with moisture and poor ventilation, such as one that has had mold issues, the stain is preferable to painting.

Paint may completely cover wood surfaces, but stains penetrate deeper into the grain for additional protection against water damage.

If you decide on a combination of penetrating stain and sealer, be prepared for its defense-from-within approach!

Primer Specifics for Deck Painting

When refreshing an existing deck or applying a fresh coat of paint, using a primer is usually recommended–though not always necessary.

Which option you take when considering taking out a mortgage depends on your situation. WT outlines the factors to take into account when making this critical decision.

Before applying a fresh coat of deck paint, it’s essential to determine whether the existing layer is oil- or water-based.

In general, using the same type of paint as before is best; for instance, if it was oil-based then apply another oil-based application; on the contrary, if there was previously only a water-based surface underneath then switch up and go with a water-based formulation this time around.

However, WT suggests that switching from an older oil coating to a more modern one might be possible with a special primer designed specifically for conversion between them – all without needing to strip away existing layers!

For more information on how to properly care for your peeling deck paint, check out our article.

Paint/Primer Combinations:

Save yourself the hassle of applying two separate products by using a combo paint and primer that does both jobs at once. With this type of product, there’s no need to apply two distinct coats; one product does it all!

Renovate and Protect

If your deck is becoming worn and discolored, consider investing in modern outdoor finishes to not only offer protection but also hide minor flaws.

These strong stains with the consistency of cake frosting can be found from several suppliers. Applying them will add color and protection to keep your deck looking like new!

Behr’s DeckOver product is an ideal option for those seeking to restore wood that has cracks, holes, or other signs of wear and tear due to nail holes or large pores.

This filler/paint mixture can fill gaps up to 1/4-inch wide! If your deck needs urgent repair due to age or damage, investing in this powerful product could be worth the effort.

If your decking is in good condition, regular paint or stain will do just as well.

Knowing How Much Paint to Buy

When selecting paint, it is often wiser to purchase extra than not enough.

Excess materials can be great for future touchups and repairs if necessary – but make sure that you don’t end up with too much that won’t get used!

To guarantee maximum coverage without using up unnecessary cans of paint, take these simple steps.

Measure the length and width of your deck to calculate its total square foot surface area. For instance, a 10×20 deck would have 200 sq ft in total area.

Furthermore, if you plan on painting your steps too, add in their measurements for an exact estimate.

If you need to apply two coats of paint, multiply the area that needs painting by two. For instance, 400 square feet would need 800 square feet worth of paint.

Top view pf paint cans and  brushes

Examine the paint can to get an estimated coverage area

350 square feet on average. Divide that number by 350 and you’ll know exactly how many gallons are necessary for two coats – 1.14! Since exterior paints typically sell by the gallon, it is wise to purchase 2 gallons as a precautionary measure.

Don’t Forget the Primer!

If using paint that is not a combined product, apply one layer of dedicated primer before painting for optimal results. This will guarantee your project has the best finish possible.

Painting a Treated Deck

Redwood, teak, and cedar are all excellent choices for high-end decks as they naturally resist water damage. However, applying a clear sealer that penetrates the wood grain can further protect your deck from weathering over time.

Decks often use treated yellow pine, which has been chemically treated to protect them from rot. To give the deck time to fully cure and fully dissipate these chemicals before applying paint or sealant, allow enough time for them to evaporate.

WT advises that if you apply paint before allowing your deck’s chemicals to fully evaporate – approximately six months after construction – there is an increased likelihood that it will peel away.

For optimal peace of mind and quality results, wait at least half a year after construction before painting or sealing your newly-built timber structure!

FAQ About Painting a Deck

For those who enjoy relaxing on their outdoor decks, protecting it is essential for maintaining its aesthetic appeal and extending its usefulness. Before painting or sealing your backyard deck, however, you may have some queries about the process itself.

Top view of different kinds and sizes of used brushes and paint can

How should you prepare a deck for painting?

Before beginning any painting job, give the deck an intensive clean and make sure any peeling or flaking paint has been eliminated. After this has been done, sand the surface evenly until it becomes smooth again.

After this has been completed, allow ample time for drying time so your deck is completely dry again.

Can You Paint Over the Old Deck Paint?

Absolutely! All that’s necessary to do is thoroughly prep the deck and select a paint compatible with your current one. With those simple steps, your deck will look as good as new in no time!

What type of paint should be used on a wood deck?

When searching for the ideal exterior deck paint, two options exist: oil-based or water-based. However, make sure to select an item specifically designed for horizontal surfaces – not any type of outdoor paint suitable for houses or fences.

Which is better: painting an already painted deck or staining it – depending on what looks better visually? Both options can be applied to bare wood surfaces; whichever option you find more pleasing depends entirely on personal preference.


With a fresh coat of paint or stain, your deck will be transformed and have an inviting aesthetic. However, getting these results requires much more than simply applying paint – preparation is key!

With older decks that may have loose paint or mold issues, prepping can take hours before you even start applying the color! But once it has been correctly completed, painting or staining becomes much simpler and faster compared to what came before.

To ensure that the job gets done right, call our experts at Painter Port St Lucie today to schedule a free estimate.

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