How to Paint and Restore Your Deck

Since decks are exposed to weather, their finishes require annual cleaning and restoration. Over time, sun, wind, and rain can wear down the finish of your deck. This can cause the old finish to peel or even cause cracks in the wood. This weathering can weaken the structure of the deck and it certainly takes away from its aesthetic appeal. Fortunately, you don’t need to replace a weathered deck, which can be costly and time consuming. Instead, it’s possible to revive the look and feel of your deck by refinishing and restoring it yourself.

Updating your deck with a fresh finish instantly improves how it looks and feels. Properly preparing the deck for refinishing and using the right type of paint are key to achieving professional results, but anybody can do this DIY project.


There is a broad variety of deck paint to choose from, but most deck paints are acrylic-based and may contain UV-inhibitors. This type of paint is suitable for restoring a deck because it provides water resistance and is thick enough to fill irregularities in the wood for a smooth finish. When choosing the right paint for restoring your deck, be sure to choose a deck paint that will hold up against weather and foot traffic.

If your wood deck looks to be in good condition, you may opt for a stain and sealant rather than finishing the surface with deck paint. Staining brings out the natural beauty of the grain and natural color of the wood, and sealant provides a protective, waterproof finish. Stains come in a variety of colors and depths, including transparent.

Prepare the Deck for Painting

Before you can enjoy the new deck paint you picked out, you’ll need to prepare the deck for painting. This means removing any remnants of the old finish, ensuring the deck surface is smooth and clean.

Remove the Old Finish

1.   Remove Chipping Paint

If your weathered deck has chipping or loose paint, you can start removing it with a paint scraper. This flat tool allows you to maneuver it by hand, removing key areas of the old deck finish. Since this is not the most efficient way to cover the entire deck surface, this tool should be applied to the most problematic areas. Use the paint scraper until the bare wood underneath is revealed. Sanding the area will help smooth the scraped areas to the same level as the rest of the deck for a smooth surface. If your deck has small cracks, it may be possible to add an acrylic based caulk to repair and seal the affected area.

2.   Expose the Bare Wood

To further expose the bare wood surface of your deck, use a stiff bristle brush. The abrasion of this tough brush against the weathered paint on your deck should help loosen and flake off the old finish. Avoid using a metal bristle brush with softwoods, such as redwood or cedar, as it may scratch, scar, and damage the surface of the wood.

3.   Clean the Deck

Once all of the old finish has been removed, it’s time to clean the deck, ensuring that all debris created by scraping and scrubbing the deck is fully removed. Using a special mix of wood cleaner can condition the surface and brighten the look of the wood.

An efficient method for clearing the deck of debris is to use a pressure washer. These hoses release water powerfully to clear away dirt and dust. After washing your deck, leave time for the wood to fully dry before applying any new finishes.

Apply Deck Paint or Wood Stain

1. Protect the Surrounding Area from Paint

Be sure to protect your home and any areas surrounding the deck from paint by covering them with plastic barriers. Restoring the finish of your deck can get messy depending on the way you apply paint or stain.

2.   Spray Deck Paint or Wood Stain

For an even finish, use a sprayer to apply the stain or deck paint to the surface. You can find hand-pumped units that are convenient for staining or painting small areas or you can rent a more powerful unit if necessary. Once the surface has been sprayed with deck paint or wood stain, use a regular paint roller to go over the surface. This added pressure on the fresh coat of paint forces the finish deeper into the wood.

You can also restore your deck without a sprayer. A long-handled paint roller and brushes can be used to achieve an aesthetic finish. Back-brushing is a technique professionals use to guide the deck paint or wood stain into the grain, gaps, and sides of the deck for a more polished look. This method of brush painting also works to remove drips in vertical surfaces.

3.   Add Another Coat of Deck Paint or Stain

After you’ve applied your deck paint or wood stain, allow the new finish dry before adding any additional coats. If your deck will require a second coat of deck paint or wood stain, complete the restoration process by repeating the previous step.

Now you have a fully restored deck that looks brand new. With the holidays approaching, a new, finished deck is perfect for outdoor bonfires or cookouts!

You can find everything you need to upgrade your home at Grayco Hardware & Home Center. Find my Grayco.