Should I Paint or Stain My Old Deck?

Image of Deck. So Should I Paint or Stain My Old Deck?The benefits of painting or staining your deck are worth the time, cost, and effort. They include an extra protection layer to the surface and assurance of a durable finish. Although pressure-treated wood resists insects, moisture, and other environmental hazards, painting and staining are still advisable. One question that you might ask yourself though is, Should I Paint or Stain My Old Deck?

While staining takes less time than painting and offers a more transparent finish, painting often covers imperfections, fills cracks, and provides longer-lasting protection for older decks. Also, a painted surface is typically more rot resistant and safer from sun and mold damage than a stained done.

However, it would be best to determine the desired result before painting or staining the deck. Both strategies offer various pros and cons. So, please choose the most suitable strategy for your project.

Read more about painting and staining wood decks in this article. You’ll get more insight into how the techniques work and when to use either.

Can You Paint Over an Old Deck?

It is okay to paint over an old deck. Painting is an excellent option as it helps to hide flaws on the surface. It also delivers a color revamp and makes an old deck seem new. Therefore, you do not have to dispose of the deck too soon.

Generally, a deck, whether old or new, is more likely to succumb to rot, sun, mold, and insect damage. So, painting it is a strategic move to keep the deck structurally sound and looking great!

How Do You Paint an Old Deck?

The very first thing to do when panting an old deck is to prepare it. Clean the surface well, scrub away any dirt, mold, or peeling paint. Then, rinse the wood and apply the paint for the best outcome.

Please remember to replace damaged or rotted boards. Also, ensure that you hammer all the loose nails and screws. This way, you increase the likelihood of getting a uniform and durable finish.

It would be best to check the weather forecast before you begin painting. You might even want to reschedule the project plans if you expect rain within 24 hours or less. Also, consider using latex-based paints in temperatures between 50 to 70 degrees.

That said, let’s go over a few essential tips to adhere to as you clean the old deck.

  • Clean and wash the deck boards to eliminate dirt and debris. You can remove all furniture, grills, and other accessories on the surface.
  • Cover all the sides of every board, even underneath. This way, you keep them safe from moisture and temperature changes.
  • Sand the surface to eliminate any flaws. Also, please sand in the grain direction and not against it.
  • Remember that aged wood has more splits, chips, and dents. Therefore, it would be best to use a wood filler to cover imperfections before priming and painting.
  • Clean the deck again after sanding to remove sanding dust and wood shavings. This move helps ensure that the primer and paint stick well on the surface. In addition, please get a deck washing solution and use a pressure washer to remove everything.
  • Get ready to prime after the deck dries. Unfortunately, wood is not consistently porous. And it may absorb paint differently in various areas, leading to an uneven paint finish. Hence, you need a primer to close off small wood pores and ensure that the paint adheres well on the surface.
  • Also, ensure that the primer finish dries well before you add the paint coat. It helps you to avoid bubbling, peeling, and blistering.
  • Get your paint roller and liberally apply paint to your deck boards. In addition, please avoid using too much paint at a time. Otherwise, you may end up wasting the paint by spilling it.
  • It would be best to use a painting tray to remove the excess formula from your roller. Also, get a paintbrush to get in the crannies and nooks. This way, you’ll achieve perfect coverage and a uniform finish.
  • Generally, two paint coats are enough for your deck. But you are safer adding a third coat for softwoods as they absorb paint like a sponge.

Why Is My Deck Paint Peeling?

The adhesion principle in paint projects is complex, but in short, it addresses the required bond between the surface and the paint. Therefore, the paint finish will peel easily when the bond is missing.

More specific reasons for peeling paint include:

  • Quality. Believe it or not, expired or poor-quality paint lacks the properties needed to create a strong bond. So, the project is susceptible to issues such as peeling and inadequate coverage.
  • Application. The strategy you use to apply the formula to the deck influences the finished product. Also, you can expect a durable finish when you invest in high-quality application tools like rollers, paintbrushes, and sprayers.
  • Dirt. Usually, paint cannot adhere well to a dirty surface. Hence, it would be best to remove debris, mildew, dirt, and other contaminants from the deck before painting.
  • Moisture. This element is the number one enemy of paint finishes. Water vapor separates from the wood and frustrates the bonding process.

Now that we have the reasons for paint peeling, it would be prudent to elaborate on troubleshooting measures. This way, you do not have to worry when you see signs of peeling. Also, check out prevention measures that will help to avoid the problem altogether.

How Do I Keep My Deck Paint From Peeling?

You can keep deck paint from peeling by adopting proper surface preparation methods. More so, we have established so far that dirt is among the key causes of peeling. Therefore, it would be best to clean the surface well before paint application.

In addition, please invest in high-quality application techniques and products. This way, you’ll facilitate a tight bond between the surface and the paint finish. And ultimately deliver a durable product.

Sometimes the paint peels without you noticing. Do not panic. The first stage is to examine the damage level to determine whether you’ll repaint or repair the deck. Also, it would be wise to ask if the peeling finish is consistent throughout the entire structure or is only present in one or two areas.

Always address the underlying issue to avoid further damage before embarking on repair or repainting tips. In addition, check out the source of the issue as it could be excessive exposure to the sun, high traffic, and leaking gutters.

It is advisable to get a painting expert to help you troubleshoot the surface, especially when the damage is consistent over the entire deck. However, you can still repaint the deck if you are keen on the following tips.

  • Remove any loose paint front surface using a scrapping tool or stiff brush.
  • Gently sand the affected area until it is smooth.
  • Ensure that the surface is clean and dry before applying the paint.
  • Get a high-quality roller or brush.
  • Allow the finish enough time to dry and apply a second layer if needed.

NB: It would be best to repaint the entire deck if the original paint finish fades or the area needing repair is large and highly visible. This way, you’ll deliver a more accurate and attractive match.

How Do You Prepare and Stain an Old Deck?

Preparing an old deck is not difficult because the cleaners and liquid strippers do most of the work. However, most DIYs fall into the ‘shortcut temptation’ where they fail to strip off the old base finish.

In addition, some woodworkers also go ahead and compromise the neutralizing or cleaning step. This way, the new finish finds a nonresponsive surface, and the product fails within no time.

So, it is prudent to be keen on the cleaning products and how you apply them. For instance, check please get the recommended wood cleaners and use them appropriately. They remove dirt, neutralize the stripper, open the wood pores, and brighten the wood.

Finally, prepping the deck well is a requisite to delivering an even application that adheres tightly, repels water, penetrates the wood, and shields your work from sun damage. Below are a few tricks on how to do it.

  • Strip off the Acrylic or Water Finish

Please use a light-colored tarp or a fabric drop cloth to protect the plants around your deck. In addition, it would be best to avoid clear poly sheeting as the greenhouse effect will fry your plants if the sun is out.

Remember to wet down the siding close to your deck using your garden hose. This way, splashes from the stipping products are less likely to damage the surface. Also, clean off all loose debris with a leaf blower or push broom.

Always wear protective clothing, including acid-resistant gloves and eye protection, while stripping the surface. It would also be best to read the product manufacturer’s instructions before using the product. This way, you’ll know if it is best to shake or stir the formula before application.

Consider working in small sections and rolling on thick layers using a ¾-inches or 1/2 -inches nap roller and an extension pole. Also, wash off any stripper that accidentally splashes on other areas.

Allow the stripper to sit on the lumber for about 15 to 45 minutes. However, keep an eye on the surface and re-wet it with water if it begins to dry within this period. In addition, scrub the boards with a stiff bristle broom. And scrape off the residue with a floor scraper to speed up the job.

Sometimes you’ll need to reapply more stripping formula for the scrubbing step. Also, you are safer setting the pressure washer to the lowest setting to rinse off the stripper and loosen the stain. Otherwise, a garden hose will require you to do more scrubbing as you rinse the surface.

Let the deck dry and examine the surface for areas that require additional treatment. Then, repeat the scrubbing and stripping routine on these spots. This way, you will facilitate a more even and uniform surface.

Sand the deck using a random orbital sander if you still have patches of stain after stripping. Now you can clean and neutralize your deck or get an expert floor sanding company to help sand the entire deck.

  • Clean and Neutralize the Deck

Clean the old deck with a cleaner like the Behr Premium All-In-One Wood Cleaner®. Mix it with water using a 50/50 ratio, but you can use the cleaner at its full strength for extremely damaged and weathered boards.

You can experiment with a small area to determine the best course of action. Wet the wood with a garden hose and apply a generous coating of the cleaner. Then, let the formula sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing with a stiff bristle broom. 

Gently sand the surface with a 150-grit sanding screen and a drywall sanding pad. This way, you’ll knock down raised wood fibers and deliver a smoother finish. Also, blow off the sanding dust using a leaf blower and get ready to stain.

  • Stain the Surface

Always make sure that the deck is dry before applying the stain. So, sprinkle some water on the surface and check whether it soaks into the wood. The lumber is ready for staining if the droplets penetrate it.

Go ahead and apply the stain if the deck is ready for the formula. Ensure that you roll in the wood grain’s direction if you use a roller. In addition, work stain into the deck boards spaces for full coverage.

It is advisable to refer to the product data page for drying, curing, and recoat times, especially if you need a second coat. Also, remember that humidity, film thickness, and temperature lengthen or shorten the recoat times.

On top of that, please check the weather forecast and layer thickness before setting your timer. This way, you’ll avoid the risk of a downpour or excess sunlight that can damage your work.

Lastly, begin the staining project by working on the railings before the main deck. Then, wait for approximately 24 to 48 hours before using your restored porch or deck. Also, clean up by removing any plastic materials on surrounding vegetation.

Warning! Sanding and scraping old paint generates fumes or dust that contain lead compounds. Unfortunately, exposure to these fumes causes adverse health effects, especially in pregnant women and children. Even worse, they lead to brain damage and related issues.

This aspect does not mean that you avoid sanding the surface. Instead, wear protective gear like a properly fitting respirator and invest in proper containment and clean-up.

Should You Sand an Old Deck Before Staining?

It would be best to sand an old deck before staining. The practice evens out the surface and facilitates a uniform and consistent finish. In addition, it eliminates any stubborn flaws that escaped the cleaning stage.

Sometimes wood fibers can remain raised and cause splinters, which compromises the chances of having a successful project. Therefore, it is prudent to sand the surface before applying the stain coat lightly.

Will Pressure Washing Remove Deck Stain?

Yes! Pressure washing removes deck stains, especially if you add specialized pressure washer detergents. In addition, these cleaning solutions help lift stains from driveways and walkways, aluminum siding, decks, wood and vinyl siding, and paving stones.

The detergent mixe is perfect for all stain types such as leaves, algae, dirt, and build-up grime. Therefore, you can clean everything and everywhere! And even better, you can use a pressure washer to clean the roof of your house.

On top of that, pressure washing is usually a quick way to remove a deck finish. However, it requires some care, or else you can easily ruin the deck. So, please set the pressure setting should around 1500 psi.

Hold the sprayer about three inches off the deck surface and move the sprayer in the same direction as the wood grain. Also, a pressure washer removes other messes on your surface.

They are as follows:

  • Gum

Chewing gum is among the toughest and stickiest things to remove from surfaces like concrete driveways and pavement. However, you do not need to panic! Pressure washers work magic on these gluey globs, even if you accidentally trampled over them.

The trick is to have some hot water as you spray the gun. This way, it easily melts away, and you can easily wash it away. Also, use about 4000 PSI and work back and forth in a fan pattern.

  • Graffiti

Spray paint can prove to be a huge eyesore on any structure or building. Even worse, it can be a real pain if you try to remove it. But I come bearing good news! A power washer that reaches about 2000 to 3000 PSI can remove graffiti from a concrete surface.

Using a chemical product like Smart Strip would be best to remove paint on metal and brick surfaces. Then, ensure that you apply the product as directed by the manufacturer. And clear away any remaining paint with the power washer.

  • Paint

Peeling paint from exterior siding, a deck, a brick surface, or a deck can be difficult. Fortunately, power washing makes the whole venture faster and easier. But it is prudent to do a patch test before you start. Otherwise, the powerful spray might damage the surface and create worse problems.

Spray a small deck area and adjust the pressure to the most suitable setting. Then, work in sections and keep the sprayer moving in the wood grain’s direction to get the best outcome. In addition, rinse the surface well if you use any stripping or thinning chemicals to remove the paint.

  • Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew can cause lots of damages and ruin your paint or stain job. Even worse, it can be a health hazard. Therefore, painters want to address mold and mildew as soon as it grows. 

Fortunately, power washing effectively eliminates mold and mildew from multiple surfaces like roofing, pavers, exterior siding, glass, and wood. Use a mold and mildew remover with the power washer and watch the transformation.

  • Rust

You can power away rust from metal with a narrow angled nozzle and at least 3000 PSI. More so, the compact water jet from the equipment is forceful enough to eliminate rust. Therefore, you won’t have a lot of work during scraping and sanding.

  • Calcium and Lime Deposits

Pools, fountains, and other surfaces can collect calcium and lime deposits. Also, hard water leaves behind these deposits that are pretty difficult to remove. Therefore, it would be best to consider a pressure washer.

  • Oil and Grease

Sometimes lawn equipment and cars leave unsightly grease and oil stains. However, you can remove these stains with power washing. In addition, you only need a degreasing detergent and a power washing appliance, and you are good to work on concrete, a garage, walkways, and driveways.  

Please consider a power washer that delivers about 1700 PSI for a better result. Also, use a high-pressure nozzle for tough stains. And pretreat the area by scrubbing it with a brush and liquid dish soap.

  • Gutter Clogs

Most homeowners hate cleaning their gutters as it is a strenuous and dirty job. But you can make the work much easier by getting a pressure washer. The equipment has attachments like a curved wand that allows you to stand on your feet without needing to climb up into the gutter.

In addition, power washing extensions eliminate the need for a ladder when working on single-story buildings. The wand also helps to prevent clogged gutters and clear out the downspouts.

Is It Better to Sand or Power Wash a Deck?

Sanding is usually a lot of work, especially when you can also get the same fresh and clean surface with a power washer. Therefore, most painters prefer power washing their decks. More so, the appliance removes the deteriorated paint finish and decayed fiber.

On top of that, there are pros and cons for both surface preparation methods. So, it is always prudent to check out a few factors before deciding which strategy to adopt.

For example, please assess the wood’s condition. Cracking, splintering, or plain rough wood should always undergo sanding. Then, you can pressure wash it to open the wood pores and facilitate paint or stain adhesion.

It would be best to treat deeply grooved wood with mold and mold. Also, please use a stiff plastic bristle brush to loosen the debris and follow the wood’s grain. On the other hand, first pressure wash smooth wood that is in good shape.

Also, consider the wood type before deciding whether to stain or pressure wash the deck. Some popular woods like cedar are very soft, and it would be best not to be zealous in pressure washing or sanding them.

The pressure washer fuzzes up the cedar wood surface and ends up damaging the deck. Therefore, it would be better to use a lower pressure setting and follow up with gentle sanding.

On top of that, please avoid pressure washing pressure-treated wood. Otherwise, it will release arsenic into the water and contaminate anything you spray. Also, use a vacuum capturing sander to reduce the exposure risk to toxic chemicals.

Is It Cheaper to Paint or Stain a Deck?

It is cheaper to stain your deck. Stain prices range between $20 and $35 per gallon, while paint costs about $30 to $60 per gallon. In addition, you’ll have to consider an extra $15 to $30 gallon per primer and $15 to $40 per gallon of wood preservative.

On the other hand, most commercial wood stains often have a preservative. Therefore, they do not need a primer to aid in adhering to the surface.

How Do You Stain an Old Painted Deck?

The first step is to remove any remaining paint from the deck. So, please pull out your deck stripper and get to work. But ensure that the stripper works on the paint you are removing.

Apply the stripper with a brush or roller and leave the surface for the recommended time. Then, get your scrapper and remove the paint. Also, you can sand down the surface if you do not want to use a stripper.

On top of that, you can still sand your old deck even if you use a stripper. This way, you can remove any roughened areas or remaining paint spots from the deck. You can also clean the surface and move on if you have no time to sand or strip the deck.

The other step is to get the correct stain to use. Please check the formula’s opacity as it greatly influences the final finish. For example, go for a transparent stain if you want to maintain the wood’s natural beauty. However, it will deliver less protection from ultraviolet rays.

Alternatively, you can buy solid stains that are almost like paint. These formulas offer superior protection to the deck. But they conceal the wood grain, and you may need to sand it off as in a painting scenario.

Next, choose a day that will not rain or have too much heat. The stain dries quickly, but it needs enough time to soak into the wood grain. Therefore, finding a duration when the deck is not sitting under direct sunlight would be best.

Also, please choose the most suitable staining method. For instance, you can go for paint pads. They are the most straightforward and fastest application technique. More so, they apply the stain more evenly than sprays and rollers.

Finally, wait for about 24 hours before using the deck. This way, you allow the finish to dry. Therefore, you will not experience a failed product. Also, please do not shy away from hiring a professional if you feel uncomfortable staining the deck alone.


It is prudent to assess a few aspects before choosing whether to paint or stain your deck. For example, please check the wood’s condition and the finish you want to achieve. Also, check out the pros and cons of each strategy before you answer the query:

Should I Paint or Stain My Old Deck?

Remember that painting allows you to cover the deck’s previous color completely. Therefore it gives a completely new look to your old deck. On the other hand, staining exposes the wood’s natural hue and grain.