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How to Paint a Deck in 5 Easy Steps (with Pictures)

Painter staining deck

A deck can be a great place to relax and for family get-togethers. It can also make the home look more attractive and increase its value. However, a deck requires a bit of maintenance and upkeep to keep it looking its best. One of the most frequent projects that you’ll need to tackle is painting — sunlight, extreme weather, and heavy use will take their toll on your deck every few years. If this is your first time facing a repaint, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we provide you with a step-by-step guide to make it as painless as possible and help you be better informed.

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Tools & Materials

Tools and Materials
  • Humidity gauge
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Deck Brush
  • Deck cleaner
  • Power washer
  • Hand sander
  • Deck primer
  • Deck Paint
Image By: tookapic, Pixabay


To get the best results, you will need to do a bit of planning. Environmental factors like heat, humidity, and sunlight can affect the finished product. You may want to paint during the driest time of the year in your area, and check the forecast to make sure there will be no rain for several days.

Use a humidity gauge, and only begin the project when levels are between 40 and 50%. Start painting early in the day once any morning dew evaporates. Avoid painting in direct sunlight, which might make the paint dry too quickly. If it isn’t a cloudy day, hang a few tarps to cast shade before you get started.

Get Safety Equipment

Even though you are working outside and have plenty of ventilation, it’s still a good idea to wear protective equipment to protect your health. For example, a good pair of work gloves will protect your hands from any chemicals in your cleaners or paint, and safety glasses and a dust mask will protect your eyes and lungs from particles in the air.

protective gloves used for construction
Image Credit: chellestein, Pixabay

Calculate Your Paint Requirements

You should also calculate how much paint you will need. Measure the length and width of your deck, then multiply them together to get the square footage. For example, a 20-foot long and 10-foot-wide deck is 200 square feet. However, you also need to consider any railings, steps, etc., and you may also decide to apply more than one coat, which can double or triple your paint needs. An average gallon of deck paint can cover anywhere between 200 and 500 square feet, so you will need to check every can for its coverage area.

If you are using an older paint, you can use your calculations to help determine if you have enough left. If not, you’ll need to see if you can still purchase more of the same kind before you get started. You will also need to ensure that the older paint is still usable, as it can deteriorate over time.

How to Paint a Deck (5 Steps)

1. Clean Your Deck

Once you have all your materials, it’s get started. The first thing to do is clean the deck thoroughly, as it can get quite dirty sitting out in the environment. A power washer can make the task easier, but you can use a deck brush to get the job done. A deck cleaner can help lift any dirt and debris, but many cleaners add ingredients to help protect the deck after it’s cleaned, and since you are about to paint, you don’t want anything extra, so be careful to get a cleanser only.

white deck bench white bench
Image Credit: JayMantri, Pixabay

2. Allow the Deck Time to Dry

Once the deck is clean, you will need to allow plenty of time for it to dry, as scrubbing and power washing can cause moisture to penetrate the wood. Many people give it two or even three days in warm, sunny, dry weather.

3. Inspect The Deck

If the deck is aging or already has paint or stain on it, there is a chance that you will need to do a bit of sanding to create a smooth surface to apply the paint. For example, if you see peeling paint or a rough surface, use a powered hand sander to get the deck in better shape and so it will look nicer when painted.

If you need to sand it, you will need to rinse it off again to remove any dust before you paint, which means it will also need to dry.

Pine deck
Image Credit: Merio, Pixabay

4. Apply Primer

Now it’s time to begin painting. Start by applying a coat of deck primer. You need a primer on both new and pre-painted surfaces to get a longer lifespan from your paint and to help it look more even. Primer will also help prevent the new wood from absorbing the expensive deck paint, so you don’t need as many coats. It also helps prevent old paint from showing through the new color. Use a brush to apply the primer around corners and tight areas, and use a roller over large flat areas for best results. You will then need to allow the primer to dry completely, usually overnight, before moving on to the painting.

5. Paint the Deck

With the primer dry, all that’s left is to paint. You will add paint to the surface the same way that you added primer, using a brush and a roller. Move slowly and carefully so you apply an even coat, which will help the color remain consistent over the entire area. A thick area will appear dark, while thin paint may allow the primer to show through. Allow a full day for the paint to dry before you walk on it or add any furniture. Now your project is complete!

Painting a terrace board
Image Credit: Dagmara_K, Shuttterstock

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Painting your deck is not difficult, but it does take preparatory work. The exterior environment can add a great deal of dirt and grime to the surface, especially if you live in a city where automobile exhaust and other smog are plentiful. You will need to remove it with a power washer or deck brush before you add any new paint, which can take a considerable amount of elbow grease, adding to your workload. However, the painting is fairly easy, especially if you have good weather, and the result will be well worth the effort.

Featured Image Credit: Pi-Lens, Shuttterstock


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