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Best Deck Paint: If You Must Paint It, Go All Out (Thank Me Later)

There is an ocean of paint on the shelves of paint stores, so it can be very confusing to determine what is the best deck paint.
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The simple logic (and best value) is that you should buy the very best deck paint on the market, which will save you time and money. Of course, you want a long-lasting, quality deck treatment.

If you just want the bottom line for the best deck paint, it has to be Benjamin Moore’s INSL-X Floor and Patio: not just for the floor. It is going to hold up and resist fading from the sun. It comes in the same 5 colors as the non-slip deck paint (shown below).

Five colors is a lot for a deck paint: usually, it’s either gray or a different gray. It can be used indoors (it’s a very bad idea to use exterior-only paint indoors) and works with concrete and brick too. See the spec sheet on this excellent paint: Ben Moore website).

Why spend this much? Go low-budget paint and your painted deck will look great…but after a while… you know what happens. If you skimp on quality, you’ll be out there every other year!

It costs less to use very good paint primer and a high-quality deck paint. And you need to prep well (read our post on that). Spending more up front costs less in the end.

When you need a primer, use the best: Cover Stain, and for the top-coat, get a quality non-slip deck paint, again Ben Moore is the go-to man. This excellent deck paint is discussed further below.

If you have to spray, please wear a respirator. People seem to prefer the big dog of full-face respirators. Awesome. I wear the half-mask with filters that are interchangeable for toxins and/or dust. Read my post on this: I recommend the basic half-mask (the 6100, 6200, and 6300 which is small, med, and large) along with the kit that has the inner and outer filters with the retaining clip. The paper makes the cartridge last a very long time. Then later, you just replace what you need. Not expensive at all.

Reasonably priced deck supplies are all gathered here.


Freeze! Slowly back away from that paintbrush!

Ok, if you have already decided what you want a painted deck, skip to painting your new deck just below, but let this painter try to talk you into a once-in-a-lifetime stain.

Do you like scraping off paint and repainting? No? Nobody does. I stopped taking deck painting jobs because of it!

What does a professional painter of 35+ years do with his deck?

My friend, kick the tires on a once-in-a-lifetime deck stain and sealer, easy to apply and low-cost. I took a chance with it and I love it. This is what Parks Canada uses on many structures and my paint store manager highly recommended it. 

I understand that you may be dead set on painting all your exterior wood, but once again, I strongly suggest you have a look at this or any semi-transparent stain. We have an entire post all about the best deck stains and yet another post on how to stain your deck.

How to paint a deck.

First Step: a quality wood primer and a big key point

Deck at sunsetPrimers fill the small grooves and seal the wood from absorbing your topcoat paint. They also provide the bonding that is necessary for the deck paint to last.

The oil-based Cover Stain primer is the best by far the best deck primer. It costs a bit more now, but in the long run, you pay less and work less. The bonding is key.

For wood ‘knots’, that might bleed through your primer use a shellac-based primer just for spots that might bleed through the main primer. If you do not do this step, you will see the knot bleed through every coat of finish paint you apply. In some rare cases, two coats of ‘spot-priming’ may be necessary, but you can use a regular primer, such as BIN is available online. (Have some rubbing alcohol handy as that is your solvent for this.) Even for a large deck, you probably only need a quart of BIN to spot-prime. You just have to do the ‘knots’ and any other stains. Buy a budget brush, cut off the handle and leave it in the can for next time. Yes, I know: icky, but a primer brush does not have to have straight bristles: you just need a brush that doesn’t shed bristles.

Best Deck Paint for Wood: use the same paint for walking surfaces and railings etc.

Painted deck with the best deck paint
Painted deck with the best deck paint

Save money by getting quality deck paint. It lasts so much longer than the low-end stuff that you save money in the long run. You need 2 types.

Finishes and Colors
Sometimes these are limited in even the best deck paints.

They come in, and I am generally are asked to apply a low-luster (satin) or semi-gloss. Flat finishes will become dirty faster in my experience. In addition to Ben Moore Tough Shield linked at the top, Kilz has a good selection.

Wet walking surfaces can be dangerous

Even the best deck paint for walking surfaces can be slippery when wet, which is especially dangerous on stairs. So the remedy for this is to use a textured paint made for decks. It comes in most of the same 5 colors as the Ben Moore Tough Shield shown at the top of this page. So this for the walking surfaces and that for railings, etc. would be an excellent solution.

Also, you can simply add silica not beach sand (it’s too rough), to your paint as you apply it and you brush it in. Bob Villa says use beach sand, but sorry Bob, that results in tearing from normal use. The large grains stick up.

How to make fine sand for texturing:

What you can do is use a window screen/strainer and filter out the big grains of beach sand: fine. Silica really works and it does not shorten the life of the paint job and you feel safe on it. Here is my video showing you how. Look Ma, I’m on the internets!

use silica in the best deck paints to create a non-slip surface
Very small, filtered, uniform grains of silica will not cause your deck paint to chip

We also have installed anti-slip tread tape for stairs. Let the paint cure, then clean very well and it will not come off.

An old hippie asked me: “What’s your sign, maaaaaan?” I said, “Slippery When Wet”.

Oil or latex for my deck?Worn off deck paint still looks good

If your old deck paint now has an oil-based paint, I’m sorry to say that you have to sand it (well) prior to painting either latex or oil-based paint. There are some primers that will bond to non-sanded (non-porous) surfaces, but I would never trust any advertising or product statement to such an important decision. What if it peels in one year?

UV rays from the sun are not well blocked by oil-based paints and this means you need to keep re-coating: not so good.

What we do: Acrylic latex paint with careful preparation is what we recommend.

How long will my deck coating last?

Maybe 5 years in a moderate climate. We recommend annual deck upkeep:

Simply select a warm dry day and have your scrapers and sanders together. We’ve listed these tools here. Go around all the areas of your deck and every crack that you see, just pry it open with your scraper, feather sand the edges (we use a very rough grit followed by a finer grit). Keep your scraper sharp:

My video on how to sharpen a scraper is at the bottom.

A variety of sandpaper (this page has different choices). If you’re doing a lot, you’ll love having your palm sander. Very decent price. I’m buying one for my brother this Xmas… Hope you don’t read this bro. The unit does not require specialty paper. Whoever thought up sanders that need special paper? Daft.

This sander uses any “hook and loop” circular paper. This box is a decent deal with 100 pieces and almost perfect reviews.

Spot prime bare wood (including new wood) with a quality primer. I really prefer Prime Lock linked above. When the primer is dry, hit it with maybe one coat, but usually, two coats of your good quality finish paint and you’re done ’till maintenance time…maybe 3-4 years.

Future touch-ups will be a brighter spot for a while.

The drawback here is that the color of older paints will have faded a little each year, even with good quality paints for decks. So at some point, you’ll be re-painting totally, but you won’t have the horror of scraping the entire thing. These good porch paints discussed above should hold up for many years more than the others you can get: this is the main reason to only use the best deck paint. They hold color longer too even in the sun.

Plow through the cracks

If you like, let electricity do your deck scraping. Stripping paint from metal and wood is straightforward with a drill attachment or what I use: a variable speed grinder with the awesome 3M Sandblaster pads. Here is a video of how it’s done. The pads for 4½ to 5-inch grinders are easy to find, and most grinders come with assorted washers for a tight fit.

Key point: don’t get high speed! That melts paint. Get variable speed (linked just above).

Depending on the fittings of your grinder, you may need an adapter to connect the pad.

 

Even the best deck paint won’t impress these guys

Related:

 Good luck. Comment below with any questions!

One last try to talk you out of painting your deck: The elements will break down even the best deck paint and stains with solids and you’ll have to do it over and over. So what to do?

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65 thoughts on “Best Deck Paint: If You Must Paint It, Go All Out (Thank Me Later)”

  1. Our surface is just plywood but completely covered By a roof over the patio. So I guess my question is can that paint the put on plywood?

  2. Hi Brad,

    I read your article on painting a deck. I tried the Behr Deck cover which peeled on the flooring after one year. I have removed 99.9% of the covering and will heat gun the small area. I would stain but the pressure lumber is old so painting was my option to cover the decking.

    I am moving to new home and want to provide a good painted deck for the next owner.

    I live in eastern Pennsylvania which in winter is cold and snowy. My question is Kiltz the best deck Paint cover for an old deck and do I need a primer and can I spray the paint?

    Does Kiltz offer colors for this product such as a brown because I could not find color selections?

    I read reviews and some people did not care for this product because of pealing which I do not need to have happen because I have 2 decks which are 15’ X 12’ in area.

    I would appreciate your expert pro advice.

    • I have a plan for you… but not having seen your decks, I’m somewhat blind, like Ray Charles himself.

      Make sure it’s bone dry… I guess you’re getting some April showers. Then, give a sanding to any loose Behr product, (I assume it is ‘deck restore’ or whatever they call it… it has a terrible reputation by the way)

      See above… for a primer: oil-based Kilz, (it says “This is the best by far the best deck primer. ”

      …and top it off with any one of the deck paint products I point to in this post. This will be a long-lasting combination.

      Read on my tool post the brush and roller/bucket you want to use there.

      Decks that size will go fast if you roll for application and then brush in for quality.
      You can tell your buyers that the deck was done correctly…a selling point!

      We do buy low-cost brushes for oil and toss them…sorry to admit it, but for latex, which will be your top coats, get a good brush and clean it well: it’s easy.
      Rollers easy to clean too.

      • I found it here for about 45 with free shipping: seems about right…this is designed for floors. Five colors to choose from. I would never say just any Ben Moore exterior, but BM is worth the extra money. I watched a video once of the lab testing: they rain and pelt it for years and it’s the best. So when you consider the labor involved, it’s worth not scraping and re-painting so much: that’s why it’s a overall lower “cost” if you add in time and hassle. Good luck.

    • Hello! Fiberglass deck: Repainting with Valspar patio w grit. Multiple coats and looks horrible. Uneven grit, lap lines, what now??? Scrape, sand, thicker coats? Help!!! Thanks, and great site! -Paul

        • Here is what we are talking about:
          Deck paint looking bad
          You wrote:
          Some more detail… applied first coat in 90 deg & full sun straight from can and random pattern (mistakenly thinking the grit would look better). Second coat was much thicker, from roller pan and one direction – hid some, but not enough. I’m wary of scraping/sanding large area possibly damaging fiberglass then having the same problem when repainting. Im really frustrated. Thanks again.
          ================
          I see now. Yes, you are right. Just send me a bit more info (here, not by email please).
          What paint, and what did you use as texturing? Sand?
          Did you use quality rollers? Sometimes the budget ones shed lint and don’t apply evenly.
          You mentioned it was in full sunlight and the heat from that: never helpful, but sometimes we thin a bit to keep it flowing. This makes each coat thinner, but you can work in the heat.
          I don’t think rolling in one direction or not is that much of a problem.
          You might be married to this until it comes time to repaint.
          The only other suggestion is to…. repaint.
          But you would do a few test areas.

          I think you are right to not sand it off: but you could do a test in an inconspicuous area.

          • Hi Brad, I didn’t sand: there were only a few hairline 1″ cracks in the paint and was in great condition otherwise.
            I used simple green and nylon brush to scrub & rinsed well. Dried 24 hrs, then did not prime. Used Valspar 83070 Porch, Floor & Patio Anti-Skid Latex Paint – it already has the grit/texture in it. I stirred frequently, but results don’t show it. Old paint had texture too and was a lighter gray than the 83070. Rollers were 1/4 nap Sherwin William’s. The rain has set in here so I’ll wait until spring to fix, but still value your opinion on how to proceed. Thanks for sticking with me!

          • Looking up that product I found:
            Maximum Temperature 90F, and you applied in the sun. The floor may have been quite hot…more than the air.
            and… the worst news for you is…
            For Use On Fiberglass: no
            So that means the bonding will not take in the long run..unless you are lucky. You did some good prep so keep your fingers crossed. If and when you have a peeling problem, buy the grinder and 3M paint remover pad on this site (just search for grinder … it’s in a few posts). Then take off paint from the top of the panels…don’t worry about between. Just paint them as best you can… but this is all in the future..hopefully a long way away.
            The other problem I can see is that they add the texture at the factory. I just published a post on concrete floor paints. That has info on texturing our way: we toss the sand on the wet floor then roll over it. this way it’s uniformly spread.
            Keep me updated?
            Good luck.
            PS that post has a video at the bottom on how to make your own, small and uniformly sized sand

  3. You start off recommending against painting and link to a “once-in-a-lifetime deck stain and sealer” on Amazon, but your links on the best deck stain do not mention it at all? Any insight on this stuff? It’s hard to make an informed decision on a product that speaks in esoteric language and doesn’t explicitly state what it is made out of. It’s some kind of dry mineral substance you mix in water, and it’s supposed to protect the wood for a lifetime? Sounds too perfect to be true.

    • Yes, I know what you mean. I did some reading before I sprayed it on my deck. Too good to be true usually is, but this has some kind of minerals bugs and water hate. The rep for the product and I corresponded. He’s great. He said ‘lifetime’ is true, but to be very safe, you can re-apply very 5 years or whatever. I will. Follow the link to the product itself, they have some info there. Seems good to me. My deck is doing well and was neglected for 20 years before we bought the house. Good luck. Let me know if you have any other thoughts. –Brad

  4. My deck is pressure-treated lumber, approx 20 years old. When it was new I applied a semi-transparent stain. That lasted about 7 years. I power washed the deck, then applied a solid deck paint. Now, 12 years later areas of the deck in high traffic have worn off. I need to hire the work done, but want to chose the paint myself. I’m looking for high quality paint in a walnut color (current paint has too much red in it). Do I need to go strong, like Kilz, or regular deck paint product like SherwinWilliams?

    • Hi. 7 years is good: I think I can assume you do not live in a very wet place, but even in Colorado, a treatement would not go more than 10.
      Since you are not ‘eligible’ for the lifetime treatment I talk so much about (just search this site for ‘zero’ as in zero maintenance), and you want a specific color, you should probably go with SW or Ben Moore as they can tint to any color you want. If you know the original color, good, but also take a faded (current) chip if you want a true match.
      Pick an experieinced painter, not a young one, and as you interview painters ask the same questions of each one. Also, will the painter sub-contract the work? Big no no for me. Get the clear instrucitons from the paint store on how to do the prep: yes pressure wash, then sand, then wash again to remove the dust. WHich painter said the same thing?

      Washing twice is more trips to the job for the painter and more money, but it will last longer. Know that some deck paint for walking surfaces may not be able to be matched to deck paint for railings (not for walking). So ask about that too. If you are unsure, ask to speak to the district rep about the SW or BM products and prep. They HAVE to know. Most paint store folks will however also know a lot. Good luck and let us know!

  5. Hi,
    I painted my deck a few years ago with Cabot deck paint from Lowes. Now it looks horrible. It chipped and peeled and I’m planning to repaint with some shade of brown. I have replaced all the boards and pickets that needed to be updated. I’m wondering now if it needs to be primed first before I paint or if there is an all in one you would recommend that has good coverage. I was looking at the Rustoleum 2X from Lowes or Olympic Rescue from Home Depot. I did read earlier that you recommended the KILZ for decks that had never been painted but was unsure if that was suitable for this situation.

    • Hi. These deck restore and resurfacing products… just extremely thick paint really… are in all kinds of lawsuits. It’s just advertising. Good advertising. I wrote about them.

      Yes, a primer for all new wood and where old paint has chipped off. Scrape and sand first, wash, then prime. I would use the exterior OIL based primer shown on this page. Find this paragraph above: it contains both products of what I’d probably use….
      “When you need a primer, use the best shown here, and for the top-coat, get a quality non-slip deck paint with great reviews: this is what I used in my basement—(35+ years as a painter).”

      I feel the all in one products are a sham designed to make you think it’s easy. It’s not hard, but it will only hold up to the elements with a tight bonding product and prep is key.

      I hope this was clear…let us know how it comes out!

  6. Hi Brad,

    This isn’t a “deck” question, but I am working on a project where I am using plywood to build an indoor platform that will be heavily trafficked and looking for some insight. It is more like an art project and the idea is to have a colorful floor mural painted on it. My research brought me here and wondering if you have any recommendations as to what primer, paint, and sealer I should use? Because it will be a heavily trafficked area, I want to make sure it is non-slip and durable. Similarly, I don’t want to be limited by color choices, which is why I am looking at both primers and top-coat sealers to sandwich in the mural paint.

    Thanks

    • Hi. Sounds like fun: a stage? From the top of my head I’d say any interior paint. The primer should be the Kilz Original: just search this post for ‘plywood’ we have a post on painting it. Because you will go over it with a clear top-coat, you can use anything really as it will never touch feet…right? Do be careful as it might be slippery if you walk on it. Not sure any product exists to be non-slip and clear. But if you want, just use an interior deck/floor paint (we have posts on floor painting) and add silica, sand. The art sand at art stores comes in colors if you want. Don’t use beach sand: too course, but you could run thru a strainer.

      Any deck paint will hold up, but will need touching up as years go by.
      Send us a pic when done? Thanks, and good luck!

  7. Hi Brad,

    I purchased my home roughly 4 years ago. The existing deck had a dark brown solid stain/paint which has been chipping away and looks terrible. I decided to strip it using Wolman’s and Cabot wood strippers which I was promised would lift anything on deck and it now looks even worse. I have power washed, sanded (hand sander) and scrubbed. There is still a lot of stain/paint left on the deck. After reading many reviews about these 6x thicker than paint deck overs, and have decided against using this product. I think my only option is sanding the rest of the deck so the paint isn’t chipping and re-staining with a solid stain. I know you mentioned using a high-quality stain, would you lean more towards Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore?

    • Wow, so sad to hear this. You are making a wise decison on the 10x or whatever: these companies are in law-suits as the stuff does not work! So, after your misery is over, (the scraping), yes, either SW or BM. If you have local stores (if you don’t live in Montana ha ha, sorry Montana, but you don’t deserve 2 senators!), ask a local store manager what they offer. Stick with SW, BM or another brand you know is quality: stay away from PPG , Behr, etc. No offense, but they are in it to make money only. I have some scrapers listed on this site: get a good pull scraper and a file and keep it sharp and your labor will really drop. Sand only after you accept what paint will get to stay. If it’s still well-bonded, just feather sand the edges, prime and paint. Easy, Right? ha ha. Best of luck! –Brad

  8. Hello, My name is Vince, I live in MAINE, just finished restoring a 130 year old Victorian ( 3 years Top to Bottom). Finally restoring the Front and Side porches total 400 sq. ft’. Supports underneath are good and reinforced where necessary. The decking is 20 yr old P.T. and was Never given any love..No Paint..No Stain..No Sealer. Last year I rescrewed all the boards, luckily very little rot which I fixed. I filled any of the wider cracks w Liquid Nails ‘Fuse-It’ and ‘Loctite PL 8X Fast Grab’ both which are paintable. Hardware store ran out of 1st product so bought the other. I did this to Mitigate any further damage from water getting in then Freezing n Expanding the cracks in the winter. Cleaned deck w Super Deck Stain/Sealer Remover n Revive. What Primer n Paint will LAST..PEELING is my MAINE concern…thx… Vince

    • Hi Vince. You are the perfect candidate for what I used. I had 20 yr deck, harsh winters, but it was green pressure treated. I wrote story in this post. The product there is what I want you to consider. If you want to paint, sure, the products above in this post (on this page) are fine. But you know, it will peel some day. If you love painting decks, scraping, sanding etc, use paint…but I quit taking deck painting jobs long before I retired: too much bleeping work. So consider the ECO Wood Treatment…Watch the video and read all i wrote. We are seeing many readers buy it based on that post. LEt me know how it goes. PS, you can have one of 4 ‘stain’ colors, but it’s once for life and not really deep colors. I will be adding more photos of the 4 colors this summer. Not expensive either, and no, I don’t get paid from them in anyway. Good luck,
      Brad

  9. hey there brad.
    good article by the way. very informative.
    i recently purchased a house with a pressure treated deck.. that.. was painted. damn!
    anyways; it looked as good as new last year and now the paint is flaking off in the wind.
    defiantly not prepped proper. it looks like it is plain old paint slapped onto wood with no primer.
    anyhow. luckily i think the paint will remove easily since its basically blowing off in the wind.
    its an old weathered deck that is showing signs of cracking but is still solid.
    just a few questions.
    is it ok to pressure wash when the wood is beginning to split/ weathered? followed by a good sanding/scraping. just wondering how long of a dry time would be needed after pressure washing?
    also once i remove all the pain in the.. i mean paint.. would a previously painted deck be eligible for the eco treatment? or would i have to go back to painting it.
    thanks, adam.

    • Hi Adam. First, I’ll copy this off to Bob Dylan and see if he wants to write a song about paint chips blowin’ in the wind. My guess is he will if it pays.
      Sorry to hear about your ‘curbside’ appeal job. The last owners hired, or did themselves just what you think to make it look good from the curbside to sell it.

      Yes, the washing is first and it sounds to me like you will have 90-95% of your prep done with water pressure. Buy the 2000psi if you don’t have one already. No worries about the old wood standing up, unless it’s rotten, then you want to blast out the rot anyway.
      Paint chips will be blowin in the rain, so spread cloth, not plastic all around and keep an eye on where they land. Then, when dry somewhat, start your scraping. See the tools on this site: just search for ‘scrapers’ and also get a file and keep the edge sharp: you’ll go very fast and it’s sort of enjoyable at first. Like dentistry: you’ll see what I mean. Searh this site for “SUN” or Sun Joe,… I pointed to the best on the market: they never die, and you can wash your car, house, etc.
      If you want to kick it into 5th gear, get an electric (low speed) grinder and lots of pads. This rips paint off without melting and gumming up the pads. High speed not so. Then, if any paint held on, just hand sand the edges: “feather sand” them. Finally, let it become BONE dry before painting.
      Part of the problem could have been that it was painted when wet, not necessarily a quick cheap job like most bad deck jobs.
      I hope this helps. Good luck.
      Oh, ps, yes if you get all the paint off, even if it’s ‘pressure treated’ wood, you can use the ECO wood treatment: you will nver have to go thru this again, so it’s worth trying to get all the paint off.
      Bob Dylan’s lawyer just called: he’s into it.
      –Brad

  10. Hello, I had my wood deck re-painted a couple years ago with Behr paint. Well 2 years later the color (redwood) has faded and I will be re-painting this time myself. My question, is there anything that will help prevent the paint from fading or as much? I miss the vibrant redwood color, and due to the elements (I’m in the Midwest) the color has faded and looks so dull. I understand painting may be necessary every other year. Just wished the color stayed vibrant longer. Thanks for your feedback!

    • Yes, it can really fade. I know the makers all test with UV which is what fades the pigments. I was on the Colorado front range for about 20 years and did my share of faded decks. I think the best plan is to buy the highest quality deck paint you can afford: Benjamin Moore is pricey, but really does last. My argument for spending a lot for paint is that the labor of doing it is the expensive part. You could be watching a ball game instead! Good luck!

  11. I bought my house two years ago and my deck is painted. To maintain the deck, could I put a sealant over the paint (if so, what type of sealant do you recommend)? Or do I need to repaint? Or maybe hire someone to completely sand it off and just stain it? The house listing shows that it’s reclaimed wood, not sure if this makes a difference. First time homeowner and not really sure what to do. I’m in the Pacific NW.

    • Hi. That is a wet area as we all know. I think that ‘reclaimed’ wood is not an issue unless you see rot or lots of splitting. No, I would not go over old paint with a sealant: you will have more problems later than you do now. This is a never ending war: us vs. the elements. If I were you, yes, I’d strip it and if the paint has been there a long time, it’s not that difficult. You don’t need your weekends free right? Thought not. Sanding it off? No, grinding, and that only after you blast it with high pressure water. Please see the comment on this page (actually from earlier today) about the procedure: water, grinder, scraper, etc. Then if you are really not decided, give the ECO-Wood Treatment I put on my deck a try. My paint store manager buddy turned me on to it. The color versions do need re-coating in some years, but not much and maybe not ever. It’s a natrual preservative…but only in limited colors. I like gray, weathered wood. Who does`nt if you get your weekends free? But in any case, once the paint is removed you have a clean slate: I say go with ECO or go with semi-transparent stain…ANYTHING that does not need scraping later on. Good luck!!

    • Hi Brad, I have reading your articles a lot lately and have a bit of a deck nightmare going on. Without really knowing what was on it, but assuming it was faded and chipped semi transparent stain, I cleaned it, sanded it with 80 grit, and restained it with a similar product and then WHAM! As I was finishing the second coat an unforecasted rainstorm blew in and it poured for 20 minutes. Blotches everywhere. I then tried to remove all stain. With a product called Superremover, I was able to get a few boards done, but at 65$ a can, I couldn’t keep up. A cheaper deck stripper I bought did next to nothing, even with two attempts. So now my beautifully built, treated wood deck looks absolutely terrible, blotchy, partly stripped. My only question is this: If I decide to paint over it, can I get away with this another sanding to rough it up, clean it, apply primer and good quality exterior latex paint? Or does it need to be entirely stripped regardless, say with a belt or drum sander, in which case I will probably just stain it anyway? Thanks in advance and for all of the helpful info you share on your site!

      Steve

      • Hi. Such a sad story. I think you don’t have to paint…remember that means later scraping, etc … Lots of work. You wanted semi-transparent stain… stick with it. Did you try pressure washing? Search this site for that and you’ll find a reasonably priced Sun Joe. I cannot see your deck but I’m guessing this will remove enough. Then maybe let it go a year to fade for the winter/summer…if you can stand it. It will take the new stain better. So I’d say wash, let age, then use quality stain. Avoid painting if possible if you hate scraping old paint every 5 years. GOod luck,
        b
        PS, this post might help: I used Eco-Wood on my own deck. Love it. Never needs any mor attention
        https://www.bradthepainter.com/spray-wood-stain/

        • Thanks for your reply, Brad! I jumped the gun and bought a belt sander yesterday (before I read this suggestion re: a pressure washer). I am sanding using 50 grit and then going over it with 80 grit using my palm sander. I started yesterday. Lots of work, but it is looking pretty good. I plan to clean and brighten it after, and then stain. Since I am sanding, should I leave it till next year to stain or should I let the deck dry out for a couple days and do it this summer?

          Thanks again!
          Steve

  12. Hey Brad, i have a very different project. I put down 1×6 pine boards on a bedroom floor. I previously painted it with regular white wall paint. I really looks nice (for a week). Any suggestions on what paint I really should use? I was even thinking about rubber deck paint. I know this is weird but I really like a white floor and don’t want tile.

  13. Hello,

    Great to read all this valuable information. In regards to INSL-X paints such as Floor and Patio, will any hiding-primer work with them or is it necessary to use their primers?

    Thank you

    • Hi. I think you could use anything you are sure will create the bonding: for a floor you have to be right…if it peels, you are in a big mess to remove and re-do. I don’t know your floor, but STIX is the one for bonding. But if you have any staining, like water stains or wood resins etc, you’d want Prime Lock.

  14. Hi Brad
    I have a deck with rails that have never been painted. It is old and I’m trying to get a few more years out of it since it has lots of cracks. WHat is the best product to use? Is there a primer and stain/paint all in one that you would suggest?? thanks for the help. I need it.

    • Hi. If you only want a few more years, I would go low-cost and when you replace your deck, use a lifetime product. That is my thinking. There are so many stains and paints… they will get your through. The Eco Wood product I used has 5 colors, and it’s really not expensive and it claims to be for life, but you may have to re-do every 10 years or whatever as the color fades: the chemical change to the wood, and it’s protection is permanent. Maybe you can get more than a few years with it. Good luck,
      -b

  15. Hello Brad,
    thanks for all the info and replies to posts…
    I have an old deck that was painted and now peeling where it sees the most traffic and weather. I was planning to pressure wash it, and after reading the other posts, doing some sanding (palm sander and grinder with sanding wheel) followed by a quick wash to get rid of the dust…
    Questions: 1) where the paint is still bonding strongly should I just leave it on or turn up the pressure on the pressure washer? Maybe just give it a sanding and final wash? 2) how long after pressure washing should I let it dry before priming? 3) what is the minimum and maximum time between priming and painting? I may not be able to do them on subsequent days and it may actually be weeks between the priming and painting. 4) anything else I am missing?

    • Hi. Well, #4, no you are not missing anything. #1 you can try more pressure, but be careful not to gouge wood…if you have a rotating tip you are pretty safe, but be careful. Some of that paint won’t want to come off. Why take it off? Are you converting to stain or a lifetime treatment (I did the latter on mine). If painting, just sand the edges..feather them… then prime, paint. If staining, yes, you have to get it. Going to be difficult, but just go slow and listen to a nice slow ball game. #3, check the label on the primer: some have a minimum and a maximum time to re-coat.. Best to not wait between primer and paint as junk falls from the sky and you have to clean again and you can’t clean it all. But the primer will be perfectly clean as soon as it is dry. GOod luck!
      -brad

  16. We have a painted pressure treated deck that’s 6 years old. We painted it 6 months after building with Lowe’s best deck paint. Six months later it was peeling…. a lot. Scraped & painted again, this time with Ace Hardware deck paint. Six months later, peeling.

    Someone recommended Sherwin Williams Deck & Dock but I read there’s a class action suit against them because of Deck & Dock.

    Wondering – since some of the paint has adhered, if we get off as much of the paint as possible with power washing, would it work if we stain instead of paint – knowing that the following year we’d have to stain again to cover where more paint has come up. What do you think? We’re seniors and can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for someone to scrape, sand,etc.

    • Hi. Sorry to hear this. My friend has a similar problem with her deck: we think the issue is that the primer was either the wrong one, or was applied too soon … before it was ‘dry’ or cured. It’s a tricky business. If most of the paint comes off, my guess is that all of it will come off without too much resistance. Then… I’d start over. I’d first try to ask the builder or provider of the wood about the primer to use. If that does not work, try an oil primer? Since I’m not able to see it, I cannot promise anything about this advice… it’s at your own risk, but it sounds reasonable to me. Probably oil primer is the thing, but again, I cannot know without seeing it. After scraping, sand the deck that you will paint very very well. Use an electric sander with rough grit and use up a lot of sandpaper! Go down into the wood to get a ‘clean slate’. Put your primer or primers in tests in a section and let it dry well, then test its bonding by trying to scrape it off. It’s not a very good test until years go by, but I think it’s something to try. Good luck.
      PS, I wrote to our good buddy Ben. You know, Mr. Moore? He replied: The Fresh Start Multipurpose High Hiding Primer # 046 is an excellent choice for priming wood. If the pine has a high concentration of knots, consider using the Fresh Start Exterior Wood Primer 094 to better control tannin bleed from the knots.” I think you want all the bonding power you can get in a primer. The 094 he mentioned or what I mentioned above still stands. I just like oil better for times like this.

  17. I am interested in the Eco Wood Treatment and read your post about using it for decks but when I clicked on your link, it took me to Amazon and the label of the product states clearly that this is not to be used for decks. What do you think?

    Thx,
    Chris

    • I read it all again: maybe we are not thinking of the same product. Can you tell me if this is it?
      From that page, here are some key sentences…

      OUTDOOR OR INDOOR – Apply this environmentally safe and non-toxic Eco Wood Treatment to decks, fences, siding, picnic tables, outdoor furniture, flower pots, birdhouses, windows, and more!

      Recommended for use on: decks, fences, siding, picnic tables, outdoor furniture, flower pots, marinas, wood street signs, birdhouses, gazebos, windows, doors, and more.

      Thanks,
      b
      UPDATE after a couple of emails…

      Yes, I wrote to them about this when they sent me some samples. They replied that the treatment is fine for decks, but the color will wear off as it is walked on and will need to be refreshed as the years go by to keep the color up.
      I’m going to write again and suggest they be more specific: you cannot tell people it’s ok then say it’s not ok. It needs to be explained better.
      To some people, like in the Navy, the deck means the floor. To us it means rails etc as well as the floor. So, thanks for writing this…I’m going to forward it and see what happens.

  18. I could scream! We moved into our first house a year ago. We knew that the back deck (raised 2nd story deck that runs the span of the house) would need some major TLC and boards replaced. But what we didnt know was what paint was used on both the deck (rails, sides, and posts) and the front porch. After about a week of powerwashing and scraping, almost every striper from sherwin willams, and losing about 10 pounds in sweat, I have finally convinced the previous owner used kilz (and a crap ton of it… To the tune of almost 1/4 inch thick). Now. Since i have most pulled up, there are lines of it in the wood. What can I use to get it off? Im trying to get to the base wood to see what i can salvage and what needs to be replaced or flipped. Please please help. I am beginning to think i bit off more than i can chew. Ps. Hubby is now chattering about demolishing what is there and building brand new since I spent so much already. (I’m not thrilled about that )

    • Oh boy, sounds like a rookie did your deck. What do you mean by ‘lines’? can you send me a pic? I’ll post for others here and remove any faces. In the wood? You can sand down: use an orbital grinder I discuss here.
      Careful if flipping the boards: rot never sleeps, thanks to Neil Young.
      Can you take the time to get all of the rest of the paint off and put on a zero-maintenance stain? I’d try if it were me. And don’t get me started on how much I hate scraping paint. I would use a power grinder and take down the wood as well. Then, you can read here about the stain I used: once in a lifetime. Yes, it’s true. It’s like a chemical pressure-treating, but safe for plants and animals.

      On the other hand, cut your losses and rip it all off. Just be sure to hire someone who knows how to build a deck well: read about how many people die on decks poorly made… they fall off and that’s not good.

      Please keep me updated? Good for others to read too.
      Good luck!
      -brad

  19. Hi Brad, appreciate your responses to all the questions. Our new house has a wooden deck that’s been weathered. The previous homeowner used Flood solid stain in a blue gray color. We’d like to get it to a more natural color. Knowing that it would require weeks of sanding, we would probably have to go for a teak color. What would you recommend our process be to get to this color? Will we have to stick with another solid stain? Thanks!

    • It depends on how dark the blue-gray is now. Sanding is a long hard road. First, I’d probably pressure wash, let dry and re-evaluate. It’s easier to darken, difficult to lighten. To go more natural, you’d have to strip with some power sanding and it’s not so good to remvoe too much wood, as you know.

      Yes to use solid stain (which is the same as paint basically) and you could have whatever you want, but it won’t look like wood as it’s so thick. The Semi-transparent is made to show wood grain, not opaque.

      A lighter color solid stain will cover a darker one, with more than one coat. 2? 3? Depends on the product.
      Good luck.

          • Just to make sure, I can apply a semi solid over a previous solid stain (after washing and cleaning of course). Appreciate your help

          • Oh, I see. No, I don’t think that would be smart. The best way to know is to take your new product (if you can get a free sample, sometimes paint stores have mis-tints for sale…maybe they can shake and open one for you…you just need a 1/4 cup). Semi-solid means semi-transparent too, so your old opaque/paint will show thru. I think you need a solid or paint at this point, but do test to be sure.

  20. So much helpful info here! Thank you!

    You linked to the Zinsser high hide alkyd-base primer but all we are finding is oil-based.

    How do we know which one to use?

    Thank you!

    • The Cover Stain primer linked above is indeed oil-based. It is suitable for almost every exterior situations: from decks to sheds to homes. Just so you know, alkyd and oil-based are almost synonymous. There is only one paint that I know of (BM’s Advance) that is alkyd but water-based.
      Anyway, I can’t know if this is the primer you need in your situation: can you please reply here? I’ll see your comment when it comes in. If you send a pic and describe what you have, I’ll be able to give you the best I can from this distance. In any case, best wishes!

  21. Here’s a photo of our covered porch deck after pressure washing and some scraping. Porch is 29 years old. Oil-based paint was originally applied by builder. Then we repainted with acrylic-based paint several times.
    Used Behr porch & deck floor paint last few times. Peeled quickly.
    Porch with latex paint over oil paint

    • Thanks, I got your photo and I’ll handle the posting!
      The problem seems to be in what you just wrote: you put a water-based over an oil-based. This can be done only when you de-gloss (sand or use deglosser liquid) or maybe just using the specific primer to get them to bond.
      But your case is not ‘all lost’. You have some work to do if you are willing…well, your option is to hire a painter.
      But you can do this.
      Use your pressure washer again with an eye to removing all the paint you can…and set up many many drop cloths all around the yard to catch the flying paint chips. My guess is that 95% of your acrylic water-based paint will fly right off.
      Then you are back to where you were before you went over the oil, and you just sand well (get the rest of the latex and scuff up the oil paint that is well stuck to the wood.
      Then use an excellent bonding primer! That is key.
      Then use any paint you like. We almost always say Ben Moore, but please don’t skimp on the cost of the paint: there is a big difference even tho TV commercials will tell you something else.
      Hope this helps. You can do it! Thanks for the photo.
      B​

  22. Thanks for the reference Buddy! our deck paint is already fading this is exactly the blog I’m looking for, the step by step instruction and the list of paints are all useful, it’s worth reading this article! Good job!

  23. Thank you so much for your help!!! I picked up 4 gallons of Benjamin Moore paint for my deck after talking with you this summer. It is holding up great!!!! Thanks for this article!

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