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How to Paint a Deck

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Learn how to paint a deck. Keep your deck looking nice with a fresh coat of paint. Read why we chose paint over stain and why we’re loving the paint.

You might also like this post on painting vinyl shutters.

pin image - painted deck collage

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We started this makeover last year with the intention of re-staining the deck. After many equipment failures, we decided to postpone the work and try again later.

This spring rolled around and we were stuck in the house. Suddenly it seemed like the perfect time to work on the deck.

We were unsure if the rental stores were open during quarantine, so we decided to paint it instead. I’m so glad we did!

We love the painted deck more than we ever thought we would. Plus, it was really easy to paint!

Who loves a good before and after?

Here’s how the deck looked last spring before power washing.

deck before powerwashing

Deck Paint FAQs

How do you prepare a deck for paint?

The deck needs to be clean and free of peeling paint before starting. We power-washed our deck and sanded any spots that needed sanding. We also took the opportunity to make sure that all the screws were flush and that all of the boards were in good shape.

What kind of paint do you use on a deck?

At a minimum, you need to use primer and exterior paint. Porch and patio paint works best though.

Is it better to stain or paint a deck?

It depends on how you want it to look and what your needs are. Both stain and paint only last a few years, so neither is “better.”

We’ve stained this deck before and we prefer paint for a few reasons.

  • Cooler to the touch. With paint, you can choose a lighter color that is nicer to bare feet on hot summer days. Our deck sits beside our pool, so this is important to us.
  • Easier maintenance. Re-painting will be easier than re-staining which requires stripping the deck.
  • Possibly last longer. I think the paint will hold up better than the stain. The deck is in full sunlight and since the color is lighter, it doesn’t absorb as much heat.
  • Looks. We love how the gray looks with the modern black railing!

What is the best color to paint a deck?

That depends on your house. Your deck color should complement your house. Our house has light gray siding and we chose a light gray paint.

Lighter colors are cooler to the touch. Our railings are black and I can barely touch them on a hot day. But the deck stays cool all day long.

I never thought I would be into light-colored floors because we have a black dog who sheds like crazy. And we live in a wooded environment. But being able to walk barefoot on it is worth seeing the dog hair.

Dark and medium colors hide dirt better. However, they’re hotter to the touch.

If you don’t walk barefoot on your deck and dirt is a concern, a dark color might be the better choice for you.

Can you paint a deck without stripping it?

You can paint a deck without stripping it first, with proper prep. This is the main reason I’m on “team paint.”

Be sure that the deck is clean and free from peeling paint. A quick power wash should do the trick.

How long will paint last on a deck?

Paint (and stain) only lasts about 3 years max before needed to be repainted.

How to Paint a Deck

Supplies Needed


You will need a stretch of 3-4 days without rain for the best results.

Prep Work

As with any DIY project, prep work is key. It’s very important to start with a clean surface.

Note: we had also removed the railing to replace it with a more modern deck railing.

  1. Remove all patio furniture and decor. deck before makeover
  2. Power wash the deck to remove any mildew and dirt. Use a gentle setting so that you don’t splinter the wood.wood deck after power washing
  3. Let the wood dry for about 24 hours.
  4. Check for any repairs, like loose boards and screws that aren’t flush. removing screw from deck
  5. Sand any spots that feel rough. Use at least 80 grit sandpaper.
  6. Sweep away any debris from sanding.

Painting the Deck

  1. Apply the primer using a roller. (We didn’t prime and regret it. Our dog has already scratched the paint with her nails when she plays rough. So if you have a dog, don’t skip priming.)
  2. Let dry.
  3. Apply the paint using a roller, covering as much as possible. painting deck with gray paint
  4. Let dry. deck painted gray
  5. Go back with a brush and get all the spots that a roller couldn’t get. Use a well-loaded brush to get the cracks between the boards where it’s needed. Some areas have boards that are closer together and they look fine. Larger gaps need more paint to blend in more. painting cracks of deck with paint brush
  6. Let dry.
  7. Apply another coat of paint with the roller.
  8. Use a brush to do any touch-ups needed.
  9. Let dry for several days before placing the furniture back on the deck. We let it sit for about a month before replacing the rug. finished painted deck
painted gray deck with patio furniture

See more of the finished deck here!


  • Wash it off using a water hose when it’s dirty. We painted ours right before pollen season, so we had to wash it often at first.
  • Don’t let leaves sit on the deck. The tannins from leaves can discolor wood.
  • If needed, lightly power wash to remove mildew.

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pin image - gray painted deck

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