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How to paint a wooden deck : step-by-step instructions

Last modified: 2019-03-13 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

If you’re one of the lucky ones, your home may be donned with a beautiful outdoor space or backyard. A popular fixture in many yards is patios. Also known as decks, whether large or small, wood is a commonly used material to construct these beautiful features. As you may already know, to use wood safely in outdoor structures as well as to maintain its longevity, it will need to be treated.

In most cases, this will involve staining, priming and painting. Painting might obscure the surface of the wood, but is an excellent option to breathe new life into an older surface or give a unique touch to a new one.

For a step-by-step guide, we met with one of the contractors in our network, Felix Deblois-Beaucage, as he and his team were working on a wooden deck renovation project. Here, we’ll go over the five main steps of this process.

What are the steps to paint a wooden deck/patio?

1- Clean the surface of the wooden deck

stripping deck wood_renoquotes

Before you start painting, you’ll need to be sure that you have a clean surface. Make sure to fix any popped nails or screw heads that may have come loose over time. Also, if you find large cracks throughout the surface of the wood, these will need to be filled in before painting. 

This can be completed with an epoxy putty and then stained to match the surrounding deck boards. This step is especially important when working on a deck that will be in place for a number of years.

If your deck has several years of dirt, grime and dust build-up, a deep cleaning process with a specific wood-safe cleaner will be needed. If the cleaning process has dampened the wood, let it dry before the next step. Sometimes the drying process can take up to 48 hours, and painting any earlier than this can compromise the wood. Otherwise, removing dust with a dry cloth should be a good enough treatment to the surface.

2- Sand the wood

Once the surface of the wood has been treated for holes as well as being clean and dry, you need to sand it with 50-grit sandpaper. This is an important step because any trace of old paint, primer or stain will be removed from the surface of the wood. 

Sanding the surface works to open up the pores in the wood, which will improve the new paint or stain adhesion. If there is no paint, varnish or stain on the wood, use 100 or 120 grit sandpaper. An electric sander is another tool that can be used to make this step easier and speed up the process.

For this specific project, the contractor needed to sand twice to remove the old stain. In some cases, including when working on very old surfaces. you may have to use a chemical stain and sealer remover or a thermal removing technique. 

If the product you want to apply is sheer, this sanding step is paramount, as wood will show through the finish. 

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3- Apply a primer

Since the surface we’re working with is wood, it is advised to use a primer. Although some paints now come with a primer mixed in, we’d suggest that you opt for a separate primer. A separate primer will help to seal the wood and greatly improve the adhesion level of the finished paint. Therefore, the final result will be more durable.

This type of primer or sealer can easily be found in any local hardware or specialized paint store. Make sure to protect any surrounding surfaces with painter's tape or plastic sheeting. Then, simply follow the manufacturer's recommendations for application methods as well as drying time.

4- Apply paint to your wooden deck

Only when the primer is completely dry should you begin the painting process. For this specific project, two coats of opaque 100% acrylic paint were used. To apply the paint, the workers in this project used a paint roller for large areas and a paintbrush for corners and edges. Once the entire surface was covered, they let it dry according to the paint manufacturer's instructions.

When it comes to the painting of your deck, you could also cover the wood using a sealant or a stain. Do bear in mind that when it comes to working with a stain, anywhere between one and three coats could be necessary, and this will be dependant on the type of stain you apply. 

Use your personal judgment when it comes to deciding on the number of coats. Remember that paints and stains may dry differently than they appear going on.

wooden patio paint_renoquotes

5- Drying time

After you’ve applied the right amount of coats onto the wood, you’ll need to let it dry for at least 24 hours. However, drying time may be further dependant on the weather and this is an extremely important factor. Before you start this project, we’d recommend checking out the weather forecast revealing the next 48 hours to make sure it’s clear, dry and not too humid.  Unfortunately, if it happens to start raining before the paint dries out, you may have to undertake this project again.

Also, avoid painting on significantly hot days as high temperatures decrease paint adhesion. For optimal results, take the time to complete each step properly and respect weather conditions. For our contractor, this project lasted three days. For you, it’s possible that it could take more or less time. If you're looking for a professional and refined result, we’d suggest hiring experienced contractors to carry out the job.

Get 3 renovation quotes for your wooden deck painting project can help you get quotes to paint or stain a wooden deck. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with the most suitable contractors for you. Fill in the form on our homepage (only a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from companies that are specialized in exterior painting.

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