How to Prep and Paint a Deck

Whether you're looking to freshen up your outdoor deck with a lively paint color, or need to give the flooring some serious TLC, painting your deck is a great way to revamp an otherwise drab outdoor space. Below, we've asked Callah Terkeltaub from on best practices for painting your deck yourself.

01 of 05

Do the Proper Prep Work

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Before the stain and/or paint is applied, you'll need to make sure that the surface of your deck is free of any debris—sticks, dead leaves, and pebbles tend to make their way into the grooves of the flooring over time, so it is vital to make sure you remove as much of it as possible. After the debris is removed, take an all-purpose deck cleaning solution, and brush it over the deck with a utility broom.

Next up, you'll want to remove all paint that is loose and/or peeling. "If you have a small surface area you're touching up, you can use a wire brush, followed by some type of paint scraper to get rid of the pieces of paint that the wire brush could not get rid of," explains Terkeltaub. "Another option would be to use an electric sander, depending on the amount of square footage, either a small, handheld one or renting a large sander from your local home improvement store."

After that, you want to remove and replace damaged floorboards. The final step before staining or painting would be to take a pressure washer to the deck, which will loosen and completely wash away everything that was brushed out. Now that the floor is prepped and you have let it dry for 48 hours, you are ready to stain and/or paint.

02 of 05

Pick Out Your Deck Paint

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Since a deck is such a big investment, picking out the best deck paint is important. "Decks are exposed to a lot of elements, which means that you need to pick out a paint that's not just intended for deck use but that's ideal for its age and condition—and the better job you do at making your selection, the longer you'll have before you need to repeat the process," says Terkeltaub. "It is also important to consider the colors of your home's exterior and deck material, so the deck is cohesive with the exterior scheme of your home. The color wheel can also be useful when picking out a color so that you can build out your scheme." Also, don't forget that if you live in an HOA, the deck paint might require approvals to keep aligned with the overall look and feel of your community.

03 of 05

Gather All Your Tools

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The tools you'll need to properly paint your deck include:

  • Paint rollers
  • Brushes
  • Pans
  • Primer
  • Paint/stain
  • Safety items: goggles, mask, gloves, etc.
04 of 05

How to Paint the Deck

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First, you will need to mask off the walls, railings, and windows near the deck with painter's tape. This will ensure that no paint will get on them. Then, cover walls and doors with plastic sheets. "To make sure the paint does not dry too quickly and look patchy, try to paint at a time of day when the deck is in the shade," explains Terkeltaub.

When painting your deck, always check the paint manufacturer's recommendations for desired coverage. However, it's a good bet to apply about two coats of primer to the deck and wait for it to dry completely. "Priming is important with wood decks because it is constantly being exposed to varying temperatures, moisture, humidity, and tons of foot traffic," says Terkeltaub.

For staining or painting, apply 1 to 3 coats to the deck and start on the area furthest away from the door, painting in smooth, even motions. To keep your newly stained/painted deck looking good, consider applying a sealant. There are several on the market that include detailed instructions on how to apply, but you will want to make sure the surface is clean and dry before applying. Once this is complete, the paint is fully dry, and about 24-48 hours have passed, you will be able to walk on and enjoy your new deck!

05 of 05

What To Avoid When Painting Your Deck

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Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

You'll want to avoid painting your deck in extreme temperatures—the ideal outdoor temperature for painting your deck is between 50-80 degrees. Also, it's important to keep your eye on the weather forecast when you plan to paint. "Since the process can take a few days, if it rains, the water may cause the paint to flake off and take you back to square one," cautions Terkeltaub.

When stain or paint sits out, it can separate in the can so stir the can every so often to ensure even coverage across the deck. Also, cover all exposed outlets with painter's tape when you are painting near them, and make sure you clean up and dispose of paint properly—leftover paint should be stored in a dry location where the temperature stays above freezing.

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