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How to Paint a Deck

Learn how to repair and restore your old deck with a fresh coat of paint.

How to Paint a Deck

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I hinted at it in the plans for the new cedar planter boxes, but I’ve been working on a small front porch makeover the last few weeks and it’s finally all finished up!

Here’s the before:

how to paint a deck before

And from the other side:

how to paint a deck before

The previous owners of our house had the deck built when they lived here. We’re not sure exactly how old it is, but, if I had to guess, I’d say about 10 years.

Most of the wood was in decent condition, though showing signs of age – a few large cracks, some splintering, and a couple rotten boards. But, overall, it was just in need of some restoration to keep it protected from the intense temperature and humidity changes in Minnesota.

I decided to go with paint since the deck was painted previously. Switching from paint to stain requires sanding ALL the old paint off so the stain can penetrate and adhere correctly, which is a whole different ball game. For this situation, simply re-painting was the most efficient way to go.

The main thing to keep in mind when painting a deck is that PREPARATION IS KEY.

Let’s get to it!

Tools & Supplies:

Step 1. Replace Rotten Boards

Check the deck for any rotten or broken boards and replace them as necessary.

how to paint a deck before

I removed and replaced one rotten 2×4 on the railing, but other than that everything else still looked pretty good.

how to paint a deck before

Once you’ve fixed any bad boards, it’s time to prep the deck for paint.

Step 2. Preparation

Preparation is key so that the paint has a good surface to adhere to. If you apply paint over peeling/chipping paint, it will just peel right off.

how to paint a deck before

I started with a pressure washer. It worked really well to remove the paint on the platform section but started to splinter the wood along the railing. So I ended up sanding the railing rather than pressure washing. And, though the pressure washer removed most of the old paint on the platform, I decided to hit that with the sander as well just for good measure.

Pressure washing and sanding is time consuming, but it’s definitely worth doing correctly. The better you prep, the better the new paint will do.

Most deck paints recommend removing all splintered wood, peeling paint/stain, and deteriorated coatings with a stain and finish stripper. I did not use a finish stripper since I ended up sanding everything off. That said, our paint was peeling SO BADLY that it came off easily with the pressure washing and sanding – stripper wasn’t really necessary. If you’re having a hard time getting the old peeling paint or stain off, the stripper will help.

Once you remove the old chipped and peeled paint, clean the deck. They make specialized deck cleaners, but the goal is to remove any stains, grease, oil, and dirt. Here’s a great DIY recipe from Bob Vila.

If you’re painting a new deck – no need to worry about stripping the old chipped paint. Simply clean the deck really well, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry completely.

Step 3. Paint

Depending on the paint you use, you may or may not have to apply a primer to the deck first. If you go with a paint/primer combo, you can just apply it right to the bare wood. Other paints require a primer coat first. The instructions on the paint will tell you whether you have to prime first or not.

Be sure to select a paint that is specifically made for decks. They’re much tougher than standard outdoor paint and are made to withstand foot traffic, as well as the elements.

Use a paint brush to edge (i.e. cut in) the railing, spindles, corners, and steps – anything you can’t get with a roller. Then use a roller to apply the rest of the paint.

How to Paint a Deck

Let the paint dry for a few days and then put your furniture and decor back in place.

These wicker chairs and loveseat are HANDS DOWN the best deal I could find anywhere for patio furniture. We’ve had them for 2 years now and it’s all held up great! They come with seat cushions, and I found the blue pillows at Costco.

Here it is from the opposite side:

How to Paint a Deck

I built a few box planters for the railing, strung outdoor lights for those nice evenings on the porch, finished it off with a DIY gas fire table for the centerpiece. If you don’t want to do a fire pit table, Home Depot also sells a matching wicker coffee table.

Here it is all lit up:

How to Paint a Deck

And the opposite direction:

How to Paint a Deck

It’s amazing what paint can do!

Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Bitterroot DIY

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How to Paint a Deck
How to Paint a Deck

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