Painting Decks

Hi George,

Hope this finds you doing well, happy New Year!

Missing Deck Bolt We had the structural/safety work done on our deck you suggested and then turned to dealing with the peeling paint...

Talked with someone at a good paint store and he recommended stripping it and if the underneath wood was great switching to a stain and if it wasn't then use an oil primer and a floor paint, he said the best thing they had was a floor enamel.

I stripped as much of the deck as have time for this year, the wood isn't good quality, so will return to paint. When I returned to the paint store and buy primer and get paint I was being helped by someone else and asked if this was the best floor paint for use on a deck--he said no and recommended two other options (neither of which they carry), can't find one but the other is actually a synthetic rubber made from hypalon, not what we have the right surface for at all.

So all of this is a long way of asking if you have any recommendations on a paint to use on our deck surface?

Thanks much,


(Photo above is of the deck before the structural/safety repairs.)

A: Hello Elizabeth, I will continue to vote against any kind or paint or coating. My experiance shows that the paint will fail even if the wood was in excellant condition and you were able to prepare, prime and paint the wood under ideal conditions.

My suggestion is that you pressure wash the deck. Replace any badly damaged pieces with treated lumber and then stain the deck. You should be able have a medium bodied stain tinted with a color that blends the areas with paint and those without. The stain can penetrate into the wood and will last much longer than paint. The end result will not be perfect but I have seen decks with this type of a treatment that look very nice.

I would not choose a heavy bodied stain - its not much different than paint and will tend to peal and chip like paint.


Q: - Follow-up: Hi George, Read your answer, thanks...

I see on the paint store's website they have a semi-transparent exterior stain that is recommended for siding and fences that can be tinted (presumably could be made purple) but their deck stain is only in 6 factory colors (all more natural tones than purple!), I take it from your response you would recommend an exterior stain (even though not a deck stain) over a floor paint? even considering that the sides and undersides of the boards will still be painted? (I'll replace the boards before I go that far with the stripping--one thing to look down while working with the nasty chemicals, whole different ballgame to be underneath looking up while scraping.)

Thanks, Elizabeth

A: First of all I doubt if you will be able to remove all of the old paint. Pressure washing should be the easiest process and if norhing else will take some of the gloss off the paint that reamins in place. This should allow some of the stain to tint the painted area.

I doubt if you can (or want) to use a puruple tinted stain but it should be possible to tint deck stains. You maybe able to use a color like brown to allow for some blending of the painted and raw wood areas. You might ask the paint store to give you some suggestions - maybe you can take a piece of the painted and another of the raw wood to the store and test out some options. If that doesn't work, you might want to buy a small amount of the stain and test it on site.

None of this should suggest to you that my staining suggestion is an ideal solution, but I think that you will find it as a better and longer lasting solution.