Painting your deck is a classic way of adding color and personality to your outdoor living spaces. You can create spaces that range from cozy and inviting to cool and elegant meeting spaces for entertaining spaces. However, one of the major challenges of painting decks is reaching the seemingly inaccessible spaces between deck boards. So, today’s article focuses on how to paint between deck boards.
While it may seem like a frustrating and impossible task, painting between deck boards can be quite simple with the right tools and know-how. The right tools will enable you to reach these mostly small spaces, and the skill will help you maneuver efficiently to apply the paint.
Leaving the spaces between deck boards unpainted could easily destroy the aesthetic of the whole deck and make your work look sloppy and incomplete. This article will guide you to correctly paint between these boards to get a complete, professional look.
How Do You Paint Between Deck Board Cracks?
Painting between deck board cracks, while necessary, is also quite challenging because the tools that are commonly used to paint deck boards cannot fit in the cracks for efficient application. However, this does not make application impossible.
With some flexibility and creativity, you will find that painting between deck board cracks is not quite as hard as it sounds.
Here are some of the tools to paint between these cracks.
A pump sprayer is a tool that does what its name suggests; it allows the user to spray paint while pumping the sprayer’s handle. To use it, you first need to fill the pump with paint, pull, and push the pump handle.
The pumping motion will cause the paint to spray out. You could also use a pump with a trigger handle to release the paint after enough pressure has built up and pressed the handle. Aim the spray at the deck board crack and run it along the inside of the crack.
If you cannot access a pump sprayer, a sponge is an alternative that also works masterfully. The very nature of sponges, chief among them their moldability, allows them to get in between cracks to deliver paint easily. Using them is also equally simple.
Just dip the sponge into your paint, drag it along the edge of the container to get off the excess paint, and just put the sponge in your crack. If the crack is long, drag the sponge along the crack until every spot is covered in paint.
Other tools, such as a trim paintbrush, basically resemble a sponge on a stick that works efficiently for this task.
A bristle Paintbrush
Regular bristle paintbrushes are some of the best tools for painting between cracks. The only prerequisite to using them is that the brush should fit in the cracks, which you can easily achieve by choosing a smaller or larger brush and testing them out against the crack. It would be best to avoid using brushes with small gaps as this could cause the bristles to get pinched in the crack or damaged.
When choosing a tool to paint between deck board cracks, the deck size is an important factor to consider. While a paintbrush or a sponge is great for doing detail work, they are both highly impractical for larger decks, not to mention time-consuming.
Instead, you could use a sprayer for larger decks with a large workload, a paintbrush for larger cracks, and a sponge for those smaller cracks that you cannot get to using a paintbrush.
Should I Paint Both Sides of Deck Boards?
While you can certainly paint both sides of your boards, it is certainly not a must to do so. However, you may decide to paint the other side of your boards, such as when your deck is on an upper floor, and the underside will be visible.
The painting also adds another layer of protection between your boards and the objects, such as leaves and other debris that collect under your deck and encourage damaging insects and fungi.
Can You Paint New Deck Boards?
Yes, you can paint new deck boards. However, the time you should allow to pass after treatment before you paint will vary. You will need to take other precautions, especially if you are using treated wood.
The chemicals that treat the wood leave it too saturated for pressure-treated wood to allow for immediate painting. Painting recently treated wood will cause the paint to peel as the chemicals leach out from the wood over time.
Some factors that determine the amount of time the wood needs to dry out include the volume of chemicals used during the treatment process, the amount of time the wood has spent in the lumberyard, and the climatic factors such as temperature and humidity.
Another factor that determines whether you can paint new deck boards is the ‘mill glaze.’ Mill glaze is the glossy-like film produced when wood goes through a high-speed milling process due to the combination of high temperatures and compressed wood fibers that melt the cellulose, sugars, and other water-soluble extractives in the wood to form a glaze.
If this glaze is not removed, it can interfere with the adhesion of coatings. You can quickly remove mill glaze through pressure washing and cleaning the deck with a wood deck cleaner. After the wood dries, you can also sand it to eliminate any remaining glaze and soften the wood.
The ways through which you can be sure your wood is ready for painting include:
- Using wood, stamped Kiln-Dried After Treatment (KDAT), although such wood will typically be more costly.
- Testing the moisture content of the wood using a moisture meter. You can paint the wood if this is below 15%
- Sprinkle some water onto the wood surface and watch how it reacts. If the water beads up, the wood is not ready to paint, and if the wood readily absorbs the water, you can go ahead and paint the wood.
How Do You Paint In Between Small Gaps?
When painting between small gaps, you can use most of the same methods when painting between cracks. Paintbrushes whose sizes are okay for the size of the gap are a great idea.
Sponges dipped in the paint and then used to apply it also work well. Although sprayers can work, they are usually more ideal for larger surfaces.
Should I Prime My Deck Before Painting?
Generally, you should prime any surface before you paint it, but especially wood. Your naturally porous wood will absorb the paint at differing rates without priming and cause an uneven finish.
Priming will fill the small pores in the wood and provide a flat working surface. Priming is even more important for outdoor wood as it is constantly exposed to moisture, traffic, and temperature.
After priming, you can then paint your deck. The guidelines below will help you paint your deck as effectively as possible.
Protect the Areas Around the Deck Boards.
Use painters’ tape on the walls’ edges, the railings, and the grills to protect them from stray paint. While it may seem like you can use masking tape, this is not a good idea as it will not fully protect your area.
You can also hang plastic sheeting over your walls, windows, and doors to protect them from painting and secure them with painter’s tape. Ensure you also cover any plants and objects near the paint zone.
Avoid Painting In Direct Sunlight.
Avoid painting your deck in direct sunlight as much as possible. Doing this will cause your paint to dry too fast, which may make it look patchy or uneven. Instead, you can do your painting in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid such problems. Wait for a time when your deck is in the shade before you start painting.
- Apply a High Quality Stain.
An exterior wood stain will seal the wood and prepare it for paint. You can then apply a mildew-resistant stain to your wood to protect it. Apply the stain using a paint roller, working an area at a time. Start from the farthest areas as you move towards the door, working in smooth and even motions, then allow it to dry overnight.
Work from Top to Bottom
Painting your deck from top to bottom will allow each section to dry, making it easier to work in that space. Start by painting any wood ceilings or awnings.
Prepare the Corners
Cut into the corners of the area you are painting with a paintbrush to prevent uneven corners or edges and to prevent paint drips.
Apply the Paint
You can now paint the area using a roller, ensuring that the paint meets the edges you cut with the paintbrush. When choosing the roller to use, there are many factors that you will need to consider.
- If the wood surface is rough, use a roller that is around ¾ inches thick.
- If the wood surface is medium-rough, use a roller that is around 3/8 inches thick.
- If the wood surface has very little rise in the grain, and use a
foam roller. Use a paintbrush to move the paint from side to side with any paint clumps or marks from the roller. Doing this will help you have a smooth finish.
You can apply anywhere between one to three coats of paint on your deck, as long as you allow the paint to dry between each coat. After the last coat has dried, you can use the brush to touch up any areas that look uneven.
How Do You Prepare a Deck for Painting?
Preparing your deck for painting is almost as crucial as the painting job itself. Proper prep will ensure that the paint adheres well to the surface and that the final result will look good and last longer.
Below, we go over a comprehensive step-by-step procedure on how to best prepare your deck for painting.
Step 1: Clean the Surface
Paint usually adheres best to a surface that is completely clean. Even if your deck looks clean to you, it could still be covered in pollen, dust, dirt, and other debris. Completely clear the deck so that you can easily have access to all the spots on the deck.
Start by sweeping the deck so that you can remove any surface dirt or debris. Next, you need to wash the deck. A power washer is great for this. You can rent one or buy one if you see yourself needing it frequently for maintenance projects.
After finding out how to safely use the power washer, wash your deck from the top to bottom until it is clear of any dirt.
However, if you cannot get your hands on a power washer, you can easily clean the deck with a wire scrub brush and a mild cleanser, especially if the deck only has soft dirt.
If you worry about mold or mildew on your deck, it would be a good idea to use a mold deterrent. Scrub the detergent into the deck and then rinse off any that remains with some water.
After washing your deck, you must let your deck fully dry before moving on to the next step. While your deck may dry within a couple of hours, let the deck dry overnight, especially if there is colder weather.
Step 2: Scrape and Sand the Deck.
Remove any paint on the deck with a scraper, which may be the case if you work on boards you had previously painted. Look for any areas with flaking or peeling paint and scrape that off while taking care not to scrape the wood underneath.
After scraping, use sandpaper to smooth out your wood. Rub the sandpaper over any rough spots. Don’t press down too hard as you are not trying to sand down the wood but smoothen it to make the paint application easier.
If your sandpaper created sanding marks or if there are still some rough spots remaining, you can go over them using sandpaper of finer grit to make things smooth.
After sanding the deck, you can then go over it using a broom to ensure that you have cleared any dust or debris created from the sanding process. You can also use a leaf blower if you have one.
Step 3: Repair
you will then need to conduct any repairs that are needed. Look over your deck for any loose boards, and fasten them securely with nails. If there are boards that are damaged beyond repair, remove them and replace them with new boards.
Also, check the boards for any rusty nails, and replace them with new nails. If any nails are sticking out or raised, use a hammer to level them out to flush with the wood. If you can manage it, it is also good to apply rust-resistant primer to the nail heads before painting to offer added protection.
Cracks in the wood will also need to be handled. If you notice any holes or cracks, use high-quality putty to fill them. Use our fingers to put the putty into the cracks and then smooth it out using sandpaper. However, if the boards are badly cracked, it would be better to replace rather than repair them.
You should also check the wood for any stains caused by water or rust. Remove these stains with a high-quality stain remover. If some stubborn stains will not come out, there is no need to worry as you can cover them with paint.
After you finish all the prep stages mentioned above, you can then paint your deck.
Can You Paint Over Old Paint On Deck?
Yes, you can. However, this will depend on the state of your current paint. If the previous paint is in good condition and still holding down properly on the deck, you don’t need to remove it and can paint over it. If you plan to paint over an already painted wood deck, some important notes to remember are:
- Make sure you use deck paint and not just any exterior house paint. Deck paint has higher bonding properties and is designed for large horizontal surfaces such as decks.
- Sample any deck paint you plan to use before buying in bulk and try it out on your deck. Doing this will help you ensure that the paint you are buying will work well on your surface and save you a lot of frustration and money.
- If the wood deck has a semi-transparent stain, you can easily paint over it without stripping, though you might need to sand the wood beforehand.
However, if your old paint is lifting, cracking, or peeling, you will need to remove it before painting your deck. Worn-out paint will likely be there around high-traffic areas on your deck and also spots that are frequently exposed to water. You may need to strip the paint from your whole deck or just from the most worn-out parts of it. Painting over such paint will eventually prove futile as the paint will not bond well and will come off after a short time.
Apart from sanding the wood bare, which is labor-intensive, you could also use a stripper to remove the old paint or hire a crew that works with deck paint to consult and do it for you.
How Long After Power Washing Can You Paint a Deck?
After power washing your deck, you will need to wait until the boards are completely dry before you paint them. It is usually safe to wait for approximately 48 hours or up to 72 hours before you paint the deck. Bright days with plenty of sunlight will make for faster drying than rainy and humid conditions.
Give the deck a visual inspection before you paint it and ensure no swelling or puffiness. If you doubt, err on the side of caution and give the deck another 48 hours to completely dry out.
Can You Use a Roller to Paint Decking?
A new roller is the best tool you can use to apply paint to your deck. It is easy to use and delivers a uniform coat of paint to your deck boards. The roller handle is also attached to an extension pole that makes painting your deck while standing much more comfortable, which is more convenient. If you don’t have a roller, you can also use a brush to apply the paint.
How Long Does Deck Paint Last?
Deck paint is generally a relatively durable way of protecting your deck boards. Typically deck paint will last for around two to three years before you need to repaint, though this will depend on many factors. These factors include the type of wood you used and the current condition of your deck.
Can I Paint My Deck Black?
Black is one of the best color choices for your deck if you try to go bold and make a statement. Although it may be overpowering in very large spaces, black is a great color for smaller decks.
A black deck also reduces the glare on your deck. When painting your deck black, it is important to note that black may not be as forgiving to work with as other colors such as grey, so you will need to paint carefully. Also, although black is a great choice, ensure that it complements your deck and house décor.
What Is the Best Temperature to Paint a Deck?
Temperature and other weather conditions is an important condition to consider when painting your deck. If it’s too cold, the paint will not spread smoothly over your surface, and it will also not adhere properly.
If it’s too hot, the paint will dry too quickly, resulting in paint clumping. The paint will then crack and peel soon after painting.
The surface temperatures should range between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours when painting. Do not paint your deck in direct sunlight. Apart from drying too fast, the paint will not adhere properly, and the color uniformity will be affected. The relative humidity should also be between40% and 70%, as any higher could affect the wood’s gloss and drying time. Do not start painting if you expect any dew, rain, or frost in the next three days.
How Do You Remove Paint from Between Deck Boards?
Removing paint between deck boards presents the same problem as painting between deck boards, the often very narrow gaps leave little space to maneuver. However, you can carefully apply a chemical stripper with a small brush, then sand. You could also buy sanding tools with attachments that will fit the space between the deck boards.
How Do You Remove Paint from Wood Without Sanding?
Although sanding is an effective way of removing paint from wood, it is labor-intensive and impractical to do manually for large surfaces. Other methods you can use to remove paint from wood include:
A Heat Gun
Although it can be dangerous, a heat gun is also an efficient way of removing the paint, so it is important to ensure that you are wearing proper protective equipment before using it.
Wear gloves, a face mask, goggles, and ensure that you have water nearby as a precaution. Turn on the heat gun and position it at 6 to 8 inches from the painted surface. Slowly warm up the surface. Passing the gun up and down and side to side without stopping.
When the paint starts getting tender because of the heat, scrape it off using a paint scraper as it wrinkles. Work like that in small sections and if you start any fires, turn off the heat gun and sprinkle some water.
While great for paint, the heat gun is not so for varnishes, which go almost glue-like when they are heated.
Although chemical strippers come with their safety issues, they are perhaps the best option for removing paint. They remove paint faster than sanding and more effectively. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as they usually vary.
These strippers are best when you are working with wood that is intricately carved and has hard-to-reach areas. If you can’t reach places, you can use wire wool to get the stripper there.
The different types of chemical strippers that you can use are:
- Solvent paint removers remove all types of finishes. They are great for antique wood as they are gentle and won’t damage it. The flip side is that you will need to use more of it, adding to the expenses. You might also need to work harder to remove paint build-up.
- Caustic paint remover takes off most finishes and is especially great for removing heavy paint layers. However, caustic paint removers usually have strong alkaline that may react with the wood and cause scorching in dense woods, such as some oak types and mahogany.
When applying paint stripper, apply the first thick layer with an old paintbrush, and make sure you force the product into any hard-to-reach areas. Leave the product to work according to the time recommended by the manufacturer.
After the paint softens, use a paint scraper to scrape it off. Use steel wool or even toothbrushes for stubborn areas. You can reapply the stripper to any place with paint left and repeat the process until it’s all gone.
If you have spots with thick blobs of paint, you could also use just a scraper. Sharpen the scraper, remove the paint and resharpen the scraper if it becomes blunt. Use vinegar or spirit if the paint is still hard. Also, be careful not to scrape off the wood with the paint.
Painting just the top and maybe the underside of your deck boards is not enough to give your deck a complete and well-balanced look. Leaving the wood between the wood unpainted or, worse, painted in a different color could ruin your whole look. So, this article focuses on,
How to Paint Between Deck Boards
A deck will be like an extension of your living space and add value and living space when painted well. Learning how to paint between deck boards is a critical part of that.
We appreciate you for reading this article, especially if you made it to the end, and we would love to hear from you if you have any questions. Please leave any comments, suggestions, or questions in the comment section below.