Can you Paint Trex or Composite Decking?

painting composite deck

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Many homeowners prefer composite decking because it requires less maintenance than other wood deck options. However, many are unaware that its color can fade due to prolonged sun exposure. 

It may seem easy to fix, but the real question is can you paint Trex decking without damaging their quality? Join our composite decking experts in discussing how to get this paint job done correctly.

What to Consider in Painting Trex or Composite Decks

The basic rule of thumb for painting an old composite decking is executing proper surface preparation. It may seem trivial, but our team urges you to keep the deck surface clean. If you spot any grime or molds on the decking material, it’s best to wipe it all out to avoid painting mishaps moving forward. 

composite decking

Do you want to paint or stain the deck boards? Newbie homeowners like you wouldn’t know how the two methods differ, but painting composite deck boards give lasting results than just staining them. 

If you’re dealing with an older composite decking that has been long painted, staining over it may not be effective. Remember that composite deck stain is best used for sealing the wood fibers. 

What Kind of Paint Can You Use on Trex Decking

Not all paint can be used on your composite deck. If you mistakenly use the wrong paint, expect the composite surface to feel off earlier than you had anticipated. 

The safest choice we can suggest for painting composite decking is high-quality latex paint. If you think your Trex composite decking needs some gleam upgrade, painting it with a semi-gloss finish or satin finish paint can achieve the look you’re going for. 

You’ll also need an acrylic latex exterior primer. However, make sure that the paint is suitable for outdoor use. And if you’re working on a pool deck, getting latex paint with texture additives should be a better alternative. 

painting composite deck

If you’re unfamiliar with painting composite decks, the best way to approach this is to check the manufacturer’s recommendation rather than relying on guesswork.

Can You Change the Color of Composite Decking?

Yes, you can change the color of your Trex or composite deck by painting it the way you prefer. As previously mentioned, composite decking materials can fade, and deciding to paint it with a different color could give the deck surface a fresher look. 

How to Paint Composite Decking: 5 Steps

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Step #1: Clear and Prepare the Area

First of all, you should clear the Trex or composite deck from possible hindrances, by removing any furniture or potted plants. If you can place them far enough, our professional decking team recommends using plastic sheets to cover plants to prevent any damage from paint or stain.  

deck cleaning

Step #2: Clean the Deck

Before you paint the composite decks, the surface should be free from residues that may hinder paint application. It’s a job that a soapy solution and synthetic brush can handle. 

Use a low-pressure power washer if you don’t want to damage the composite deck during the cleaning process. To get rid of molds, create a vinegar solution and sprinkle baking soda on the surface before proceeding to pour and scrub. Rinse the composite deck well before the next step. 

Step #3: Sand the Deck

Another prepping you must do before applying composite deck paint is scruffing the surface with sandpaper. Unlike natural wood or traditional wood decks, composite boards don’t accept paint right away. 

By doing this, the adhesion on the composite material will be enhanced. After that, remember to wipe the sanding dust with a damp cloth.

Step #4: Prime the Deck

You may think you’re ready to paint your decking, but our team’s years of expertise assure you that you need to prime its surface for added durability. If the composite planks are attached to your home, tape the corners before applying the primer

applying primer paint to deck

Some Trex or composite decking has considerable length, so use adjustable paint rollers to avoid bending too much. 

Now, can you paint composite decking after this process? Not right away. Give the Trex or composite materials two hours to dry. If still in doubt, consult the primer’s label instructions.

Step #5: Apply the Paint

After the primer has dried, it’s time to start the painting process. If you want to create a protective barrier on your Trex or composite decking, you should consider adding a second coat of paint instead of one. 

The paint drying duration varies per product, so leave it as long as possible. No worries, though. Most of them have instructions on their labels that any newbie painter can follow.

Composite Decking Painting Tips

Tip #1: Paint on a Warm Day

Can you paint Trex decking on a rainy day? Yes, you can. But don’t expect your Trex or composite decking to dry easily in that weather condition. If you can, plan your task on a warm day for your convenience and less waiting time. 

painting the deck on a warm day

Tip #2: Use Back-Brushing for Imperfections

Back-brushing is a great technique to use when trying to paint the decking. It helps the surface absorb the paint and occupy the nooks. 

Tip #3: Don’t Paint in Direct Sunlight

While we did advise you to paint on a sunny day, painting in direct sunshine could lead to fast drying. If that happens, the possibility of seeing an unwanted sheen on the surface is very likely. 

What is Trex or Composite Decking?

True to its name, Trex decking is made out of composite lumber. If you don’t know what it is, this material has mixed plastics and wood fibers. Given its distinct manufacturing method, its surface is denser and heavier than real wood. 

Types of Composite Decking

Wood Plastic Composite Deck

If you’re on a tight budget, wood plastic composite decking is a great option. Not only does it looks like real wood grain, but it also costs less to maintain. It’s made out of plastic and wood components. 

Capped Composite Deck

Capped plastic composites have the same components as the previous decking type. The only difference is that non-capped composite decking doesn’t have a protective rubber shield that keeps them away from harmful elements. 

capped composite deck

Plastic Lumber Deck

Another environment-friendly option is plastic decking. It’s composed of recycled plastic and is widely manufactured in the market. However, we wouldn’t recommend it if you have a limited budget as it can be more expensive than other options. 

Non-Paintable Trex Decking

Unfortunately, not all decking can be painted or stained. If you’re using TimberTech, painting its surface will only lead to peeling and cracking in the long run. The same scenario applies to Transcend & Escapes and Lumberrock deckings. 

Pros and Cons of Composite Decking

Benefits

Drawbacks

Can You Stain Trex Decking?

Yes, you can stain composite decking. Depending on the condition of the lumber, you can pre-stain or stain it for the long term to seal the wood components. 

Best Stains for Composite Decking

If you don’t want flaking or peeling to happen, don’t use solid deck stains. Instead, consider the likes of acrylic latex stain, semi-solid stain, or semi-transparent ones. 

person staining the deck

How Long Will Composite Deck Stain or Paint Last?

Unlike typical lumber, composite decks may take years before painting again. However, it still depends on how exposed your deck is to sunlight. 

How Else Can You Refresh a Composite Deck?

If you ask our experts, semi-annual cleaning is one of the best ways to refresh a composite deck without painting or staining. All you need to do is spray it all over with soapy water, scrub diligently, and rinse thoroughly [1]

FAQ

Can you paint or stain old Trex decking?

Yes, you can paint or stain old Trex decking. As long as you’re able to prepare the surface properly, doing these tasks wouldn’t be impossible to achieve. However, you must also scruff and prime it to accept the paint you’ll apply. You can also use a semi-gloss finish for this.

Conclusion

Figuring out how to paint Trex decking isn’t that complicated. However, there are many preparations and factors to consider to complete this task. If you find yourself in doubt during the process, our experts urge you to check the material labels for specific instructions to avoid any unnecessary painting mishaps. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson