Deck Painting Tips For Wood Decks

Deck Painting Tips for Your Wood Deck


Deck painting tips for your wood deck requires some basic knowledge of wood types, paints and stains. After that, we can delve into actual deck painting tips for applications.

Remembering any paint, deck, stain, Acrylic, Alkyd, Epoxy, coating is only as good as the substrate it is covering. Going a step further on this subject, various wood types perform better than others being exposed to the outside elements, especially in Colorado.

Tips For Your Wooden Deck

Cedar and Redwood being the most resilient and appealing wood grains for decks. No matter where you live, hopefully these deck painting tips for your wooden deck can be some great value to you. As with any deck paint or stain, with the structure being outside, there will be a regular maintenance to it, some stains requiring more than others.

Generally solid bodied deck paint which is actually a stain, having characteristics of a paint will last much longer on flat, horizontal surfaces. Whereas transparent, also semi-transparent stains last the less. The two different stains are a tossup though with benefits of each.

Solid bodied stains will indeed last longer, however you loose the natural wood grain appeal. Once you use a solid body stain, you cannot go back to a semi-transparent without a lot of work stripping every square inch of solid stain, since semi-transparent stains do not cover, they only enhance the wood.

Semi-transparent stains soak in, penetrating the woods grain, leaving a deep beautiful finish. Semi-transparent stains best used on fairly undamaged or newer wood, as they do not cover imperfections, only bring forth the natural beauty.

There are several deck paint products available on the market today, most of which are premium quality except any plain "Water Seal" I would certainly stay away from.

Deck Painting Tips

Deck Painting Tips

Knowing Your Wood Types:

Knowing your wood type is very key, especially if you are in the planning stage of building your deck. Most wooden decks are built out of either Heart Redwood, or Western Red Cedar. Some imported hardwoods are being seen, like the Brazilian Walnut and others which are holding up quite well.

For the person who wants a wood deck, but buys the cheapest, Pine is suggested and purchased. Some Pine can be treated at the lumber mill, referring to as Treated Pine. Either Pine lumber will not hold up in extreme weather conditions for a long term, no matter what deck paint or stain is regularly applied.

Pine tends to curl, warp, check and crack under different temperatures, so this type of wood should be avoided at all costs. Redwoods and Cedars prices have drastically increased over the last 10 years along with everything else, making Pine much cheaper and cost effective for the short term.

What is an eye opener is after say 5-6 years, your looking to replace that wooden deck with either a higher grade of wood or more expensively a man-made product such as Trex™. Making perfect sense to either wait till you can afford the Redwood or Cedar, or buy it from the get-go, as now you know your wood types.

Knowing Your Deck Sealants

Knowing your deck sealants is key element of deck preservation knowledge, determining what look you are trying to achieve, along with your continued long term wood deck care maintenance.

There are basically two types of deck sealants, one being a deck paint, and the other as a deck stain. Both deck sealants protect exterior wood surfaces under various weather conditions, but both have opposite  characteristics protecting the wood's surfaces which must be expressed.

Solid Body Deck Paint - Stain:

Deck Paint

  • Solid body deck stains, commonly known and referred to as deck paint.
  • This product soaks into wood usually about 50%, leaving a paint mil of the other 50% on top as paint finish.
  • This covers all wood's natural grain, and is easily allowed to touch-up, adding additional coats in subsequent years.
  • This product should say "Deck Stain", and not just any Acrylic paint, as deck paints have better bonding primers to horizontal surfaces, which makes this product more expensive than regular exterior paint, and performs much better under various conditions. So don't cheat your deck by applying regular Acrylic latex house paint on your deck surface, or you'll be subjected to a rude awakening months later.
  • Solid body deck stain or paint generally is easier to administer, as this covers up blacken, gray wood deck surfaces, and therefore no need to clean wood using a wood brightener or cleaning agent. Power washing is still recommended, removing older wood's top layer off with a forceful water jet spray usually at a 2500-3500 psi using a commercial grade power washer.
  • Most portable $150.00 rinky-dink power washers you may find at your local Lowe's™ or Home Depot™ is only good to rinse off your sidewalks, and cars. Once cleaned, it is now ready to dry back out over a 24-48 hour period, before any deck paint is applied.
  • The drawback using a full fledged deck paint is it can check, crack, and wear off depending on the foot traffic, pet's nails, and furniture sliding across the surfaces. Solid body deck stains or deck paints can crack, chip, and flake off if snow is left on painted surfaces over a long period, such as over two days or more. Snow must be shoveled or swept off the horizontal deck surfaces, ideally on the same day, so this will not happen.
Semi-Transparent Deck Stain:

Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

  • Semi-transparent deck stains are typically linseed oil based, however some paint manufactures have developed a water borne type.
  • In either case both allow the natural beauty of the wood's grain to show through. If you have used a solid body deck stain or paint in the past, you cannot use a semi-transparent stain, unless all portions of this solid body stain is removed.
  • This type of stain will never crack, chip or peel, but tends to need additional coats more often, say every two to three years depending upon weather conditions and foot traffic.
  • Once all the ugly black mold and mildew is cleaned off, using a wood brighter and cleaner, along with a mildew cleaning agent, this should be the last time the deck will need this extensive power washing and cleaning.
  • Keeping up the additional coats of semi-transparent wood oil finish, all that is needed from then on is a garden hose rinse, letting dry, applying additional semi-transparent wood oil applications.
  • Careful not to apply these coats too heavy, as this is a linseed oil based product, and only so much linseed wood oil can soak into the wood grain at a time. Any residue will be left on top as a gummy mess which will need to be scraped back off. Therefore, using a spray and back roll method is best, applying a uniform wood oil film.
  • These products usually take several days to dry enough to walk on the deck, careful not tracking any residue back into the home and carpet. Semi-transparent stains tend to look more professional and protect the wood's grain much better. If you see water not pooling up, it may be time to re-apply a deck stain wood oil coat.
  • When using either stain, water borne or oil, all rags, sponges, applicators must be allowed to air dry, as these rags wadded up can and will ignite causing a fire.

For more tips cleaning your deck, check out Best Deck Cleaners for Decks and Cedar Siding. Tips for saving your deck finish, check out Deck tips saving your deck finish. For best deck stains, check out Best Deck Stains.

If you live in Colorado, and wish having a professional Deck Cleaning and Staining project accomplished, look no further than Painting Contractor, Cal Phillips and Eco Paint, Inc.

Eco Paint and transform your wood deck to a more sustainable deck staining finish, so contact us today!

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7 years ago

Deck Painting Tips

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3 years ago

Thank you for the insight . A lot of new information that could help me.