The best way to paint a deck

Written by stevie donald
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The best way to paint a deck
Painting a deck can enhance outdoor spaces. (deck with a view image by Bruce Shippee from

Paint your deck in the spring or early summer to enjoy it all year. Painting not only looks good, it protects a deck from the elements and adds dimension to your outdoor space. Painting your deck early in the growing season means you are not working around established landscaping and plants. Consider painting different levels of the deck two shades of the same colour or painting the deck railings a different colour from the decking to add visual interest.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hammer or drill
  • Power washer
  • Deck detergent
  • Scrub brush
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper, 50-grit or 80-grit
  • Power sander
  • Primer
  • Roller
  • Roller tray or bucket and grid
  • Paintbrush
  • Deck paint

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  1. 1

    Inspect your deck and railings for loose nails or screws and cracked or rotten wood. Replace wood as needed and tighten all the fasteners.

  2. 2

    Clean the deck. Scrub with a natural bristle brush and water with deck or siding detergent, which typically has added mildewcide to kill and remove mould and mildew. Use the edge of a putty knife to scrape dirt and leaf debris from between the boards. Unless it's a small deck, this can be very labour-intensive, so consider renting a power washer. Rinse the deck thoroughly and allow it to dry for two to three days.

  3. 3

    Scrape loose paint from the wood if the deck was previously painted. A power washer will remove most but not all loose paint. Use a power sander and 50-grit or 80-grit sandpaper to smooth edges if necessary.

  4. 4

    Prime the deck with oil-based or water-based primer. Use a 3-inch paintbrush for all the areas you can't reach with the roller.

  5. 5

    Apply two coats of high-quality deck paint with a roller and brush. Paint the railings first and wipe drips and blobs of paint from the decking as you work. Paint the deck last. Do the edges with the brush first and roll the large areas.

Tips and warnings

  • Allow three consecutive completely dry warm days for drying after you wash the deck before using oil-based paint or primer. If this is not practical, use 100 per cent acrylic water-based primer and paint, which is less likely to chip and peel when painted over slightly damp wood.
  • Save your back by using an extension pole of 2 to 4 feet for scrubbing and cleaning the deck and for rolling the primer and paint. Many scrub brushes have a threaded hole to attach an extension pole or broom handle.
  • Instead of a paint tray, consider a 5-gallon bucket and roller grid. It holds more paint, is easier to move as you work and the paint won't dry out as quickly on a sunny day.
  • Use old sheets or very lightweight drop cloths to protect landscaping around or beneath the deck. Heavy cloths or plastic can damage or overheat plants.
  • A 100 per cent lambswool roller holds more paint and does a better job of getting paint into the cracks and spaces between the boards.

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