Painting a Deck Step by Step - The Simple Effective Guide
October 7, 2019

Your deck is a wonderful way to enjoy temperate weather. It can be a place to make meals, relax or spend time with the family. Whether decorated with furniture and textiles or the home of an outdoor kitchen, it’s a place you love. 

But so much fun can take a toll on the condition of your decking. If it’s starting to look a little tired, it’s time for a refresh! A new coat of paint can breathe new life into your space. Plus, with such a variety of colours to choose from, you can really transform the look! 

This can be especially important if your deck is not a place where spending time is enjoyable. With a fresh coat of paint, you can claim this space as your own and start putting it to better use. 

Of course, this needs to be done properly. By following the right steps, you can ensure that your decking is going to last. So read on to find out exactly what you need to do for the best results!  

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Painting a Deck Step by Step

Painting a Deck Step by Step

Materials and Tools

  • Pressure washer
  • Sandpaper in medium to fine grit 
  • Paint scraper
  • Paint stripper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint rollers
  • Exterior-grade paint with slight grit for anti-slip. Look for paint recommended for decking or flooring. 
  • Paint thinner (if you are working with oil-based paint)

Before You Start

As with any project, taking the time for proper preparation is important. For your deck, this means removing all existing furniture and decorations. Anything that is not fixed to your deck should be put aside while the work is happening so paint does not get on it accidentally. If you have gardens around your deck, we recommend covering them with plastic or a drop cloth to keep them paint-free as well.

Paint Ideas

While using one colour is a popular option, it isn’t the only one! Take a look online for some inspirational paint ideas if you are hoping to add a bit of personality into your renovation. 

Paint Swatches

Try out a striped pattern in two complementary shades or add contrast into your balustrade. If you are are especially ambitious, add a painted rug onto a more neutral shade on the boards makes your deck look ready for outdoor comfort.  


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Step 1: Repair All Damage

Examine your deck for any signs of damage or wear beyond the appearance of your paint. Inspect the footings and pillars of your deck to ensure it is still structurally sound. Areas, where the wood meets dirt or grass, can be especially prone to rot, so look at these spaces closely. 

Rotting Wood

Rotted or damaged boards will need to be replaced. You’ll also want to refasten any loose screws or ones that have shifted up and pose a tripping hazard. If the screws are in poor shape, you may wish to go up a size to get proper fit once again. 

Take the time to also inspect your railings. They should be sturdy and strong and free of rot. Any damage can be replaced with fresh boards or new fastenings so you can trust in your deck’s integrity once again.


Step 2: Strip Old Paint

This step is a good idea if you aren’t sure what kind of paint was used before, or your paint is peeling and in poor condition. Stripping it removes any problem areas so you can start with bare wood. 

Old paint on a deck

It’s a required step if you plan on using stain or a more transparent finishing material over more opaque paint. Start by using your paint scraper to remove loose paint. Then, using paint stripper, slowly work over the surface of your decking boards to remove every inch of paint.

Step 3: Clean Your Deck 

Next, clean your deck thoroughly. You can use wood cleaner if you like, but often a pressure washer is sufficient for cleaning built-up dirt and grime from your decking boards. The key is to target the entirety of your decking, not just noticeable dirt. 

Before you use the pressure washer, take the time to sweep up any loose paint so it does not get into your gardens and pose a risk to the environment. 

clean the deck first

Spray thoroughly to clean up your decking boards, paying close attention to areas of high traffic such as stairs or natural pathways from doors. Any boards that neighbour gardens are prone to collecting dirt, so be sure to attend to these areas too.


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Step 4: Prime

If you’d like, you can prime your decking for added durability on both the top of your decking and the underside of your boards. This will also help to give you an even surface to work on for easier painting. 

Prime your deck first

If you have had to replace several of your decking boards because of damage, you may want to prime boards both new and old to standardize your paint coverage. However, priming is not required, especially if you are using stain for your final coat.


Step 5: Start Painting

With your surface clean and ready to go, you can now start painting. Start with the parts above your decking like the railing and balusters first. 

Paint the deck railing

Cover them thoroughly with paint, but be sure to watch out for any drips. You won’t want them to dry into solid lumps or drip down onto your decking and ruin your finish.  

Step 6: Finish the Job

Finally, paint your decking boards. We recommend using a paintbrush to get into tricky areas like around railings or the walls of your home. You can use a roller or paint sprayer for the larger sections, or continue to use your paintbrush. Watch to be certain that no brush marks dry into your finish.

Finished Deck


Your deck is a valuable part of your home, extending your living area so you can easily enjoy the best weather! But in order to do this, it needs to be well taken care of. With a fresh coat of paint, you will make it look attractive so that you can appreciate every chance you get to spend time outside. So get started today and submit a free bid for exterior painter and decorators!

Looking for more information on a balcony, deck, and patio repair or installation? Read our Balcony, Deck, and Patio Repair Price Guide so you can effectively plan your budget!

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Essential Materials For Painting Stairs

Before you begin the project, make sure you have the right materials on hand. This will ensure you can work steadily after you’ve started without interruptions. 

If you hire a painter and decorator they will take care of gathering these essential materials for you once you've picked out the paint colour. Keep in mind though that if your painter and decorator is purchasing the supplies the cost for this will be added to their invoice to cover the material expenses.

  • Sandpaper in a variety of grits from coarse to fine 
  • Paintbrush (use a type recommended for the paint you have purchased)
  • Paint roller 
  • Drop cloths
  • Painters tape
  • Primer
  • Paint suitable for flooring surfaces (look for durability and slip-resistance)  

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If your stairs are in an area that sees a lot of use, you will also want to have a scrap of cardboard handy to make each level accessible while you’re painting. This can be used as a reminder of which steps can be used during the painting.


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