How to Paint a Deck with Peeling Paint — A Step-by-Step Guide

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Repainting a deck with peeling paint is necessary to maintain its appearance and protect it from further damage. But without proper knowledge and tools, you may need to spend money on repairs or a new deck.

Drawing from my experience, I’ve compiled essential pointers on how to paint a deck with peeling paint, ensuring you save on unnecessary costs. 

What Causes Peeling Paint?

Low Paint Quality

The quality of various paints and stains varies greatly. Not all paints are created equal; some are designed to last more and endure more severe circumstances. 

Before beginning the deck painting process, learning which paint is ideal for your area and the deck is essential. Poor-quality paint won’t last long once exposed to the environment.

Accumulated Dirt

Over time, dirt, dust, and other contaminants can settle on painted surfaces. A dirty surface can cause a lack of paint adhesion. The paint on the deck will eventually flake off after that. Before painting the deck, make sure it is free of dirt and debris.

peeling deck paint

Moisture

A hardwood deck’s expansion under wet conditions might force the peeling of the paint that initially coated it. Do not paint on a damp deck; make sure you paint sprinklers away from the wood.

Expired Paint

Your deck’s surface might need to adhere correctly to expired paint or low-quality paint. You should paint decks with paint that will last outside and has not expired. In this case, you should check out these best deck paints for old wood and more.  

Application or Poor Painting Method

Painting without the proper equipment can result in the entire surface flaking off before the paint can cling. For the smoothest possible application, use the right equipment.

High Traffic

Paint peeling is a common problem on decks and other high-traffic deck surfaces. Excessive exposure of the deck to friction can cause its paint to peel.

Improper Surface Preparation

Cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting are all steps in preparing a surface for a fresh coat of paint. Deck paint will peel sooner than you’d like if you don’t follow these procedures carefully.

old deck

When Should I Repaint My Deck?

Determining when you should paint a peeling deck depends on the size of the damage. If you keep an eye out for these telltale symptoms of deterioration, you’ll have a better idea of how often you need to repaint your deck to refresh it.

Painting an older, weathered deck can be a challenge. Although oil-based coatings might serve as an effective sealer, they can also obscure the wood’s natural grain. To avoid this problem, buy a quality deck stain made especially for decks or other extensive outdoor areas.

The right deck stain can both protect and showcase the wood’s inherent beauty. Using a semi-transparent stain, for instance, not only safeguards your weathered wood deck from the elements but also lets its natural character shine through, striking that perfect balance.

Is it Okay to Paint Over Peeling Paint?

Repainting or repairing the peeling deck is okay; however, it is a decision you should make in light of the extent of the damage.

tools on deck

The first step is to use a wire brush or putty knife to scratch the loose paint. After that, you should scuff sand the whole thing and then clean it thoroughly. Cover raw wood on your deck with primer before the first paint coat. 

Why Do You Need to Repaint Your Deck?

Applying a new coat of paint on the deck can spruce up outdoor surfaces. Repainting also keeps your deck in pristine shape. Deck boards can be protected from the elements, fading, flaking paint, and general wear and tear by repainting them.

No matter how much paint needs removing, it is essential to sand, clean, and prime the wood surfaces before painting. You can wash some of the faded deck paint by pressure washing, removing any dirt and dust accumulated to make a clean, smooth surface for painting.

When is the Best Time to Repaint Your Deck?

My research shows that late spring is the best time for a deck repainting project. Days are often sunny and warm, hovering around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and nights are mild.

There should be at least four dry days to allow all the steps of preparation, application, and finishing to dry correctly. Decks in high-use areas, in particular, need to be repainted as soon as the paint begins to show wear.

repainted deck

Because the original finish has worn off, and the wood underneath is at risk. Or when significant areas of the deck have paint that has severely blistered and peeled. As a bonus, you can repaint your deck whenever you get tired of its dull color.

Type of Paint to Use

A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into an old deck, making it look new. Choosing the appropriate paint for the task at hand is crucial. Because doing so will keep your deck in pristine condition for decades.

The ideal paint is deck stain or paint, which is also the best choice for pressure-treated wood, especially if you want a long-lasting finish.

A second great option for covering a deck is wood paint. You can apply the paint to unfinished wood to give the room a new look. Only buy exterior paint if you’re going to be using it indoors. 

How Long to Let it Dry?

Apply a second layer of paint after the first one has dried to get a professional-looking finish on your deck.

newly painted deck

It’s also crucial to use acrylic paint that can withstand harsh outside conditions, such as direct sunshine and dry weather, for an extended period. This will lengthen the time your deck retains its pristine appearance.

Depending on the ambient temperature [1] and humidity, wait for the second coat to dry before replacing furniture or other things. It may take 12–24 hours. 

A new paint job can give your deck a fresh appearance and feel that will last for years with only simple instructions and some time for drying. Here’s how to go about it:

Repainting Your Deck with Peeling Paint in 9 Steps

Step #1: Prepare Your Tools

To paint a deck with peeling paint, you should first start collecting the necessary supplies and follow the steps. You may buy brand-new models at your nearby hardware store, and you can shop for pre-owned ones online at marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist. 

painting materials on deck

Paint Scraper or Putty Knife

These will come in handy for removing flaking paint from the deck. You can apply deck paint with just about any scraper. Make sure it’s easy to handle and can effectively remove paint from wood.

Electric Tools

You can save time by carefully using an electric tool to strip the paint from the deck.

Sandpaper or Sander

For further work or painting, you will need a sander or sandpaper to ensure a smooth and flat surface.

Paint Brushes

Purchase high-quality, two-coat paint brushes. Avoid buying too thin brushes, as you may need to apply more product. Do not use stiff brushes on areas of bare wood. Nothing beats a paint roller or a deck brush.

Purdy paint brushes

Deck Paint Sprayer

It’s not required, but it will make things much simpler if you use this tool. Spraying the deck surface is a considerably more efficient alternative to rolling or brushing.

Hose

The deck may be hosed down and made ready for use in a short amount of time. It’s essential to have a high-pressure washing hose for this task. You’ll need a way to clean the deck of any debris if you don’t already have one.

Pressure Washer

Utilizing a pressure washer or power washer is a quick and easy technique to remove the original paint or stubborn paint on your deck.

Step #2: Wash The Deck Thoroughly

Mold and mildew, as well as the dirt that has settled on the deck’s surface and between its planks, must be washed away.

Pressure-wash the loose paint away. If you want to avoid gouging the wood with your pressure washer, use a spinning nozzle and tilt the washer wand. Make sweeping motions while staying six to twelve inches away from the deck.

washing deck

Use an all-purpose cleaner and a stiff brush to get rid of the grime that has accumulated on your deck, use an all-purpose cleaner and a stiff brush. After cleaning the deck, give it a thorough rinse. Let the deck dry for at least 48 hours.

Step #3: Scrape The Loose Paint Off

Use the proper tools, such as scrapers to get rid of any remaining paint peeling. Applying light, sweeping strokes with a wire brush, remove the peeling deck paint.

Use a putty knife or paint scraper to remove any remaining paint job if brushing doesn’t do the trick. To remove paint from a surface, you can use a sharp, flat scraper and a light downward pressure.

Unfortunately, it’s only effective on little peels in the paint job. You can use the finest paint stripper for wood decks on huge surfaces.

Step #4: Begin Sanding the Deck

Is the peeling paint consistent on a vast surface area? Then, speed things up by using a power sander. The benefit is that it is available for purchase or rental at a convenient location near your work site.

sanding old paint deck

Lightly sand the deck in the direction of the wood grain using 60-100 grit sandpaper. If the sandpaper gets blocked or the grits wear out, you should acquire a new one. Sand the floor evenly, but be careful not to wear down the wood.

Rinse the deck with the hose once more to eliminate any remaining sanding debris. The deck must dry for at least a day or two after that.

Step #5: Tidy Up the Surface

When the paint isn’t correctly attached to its surface, moisture or heat from the sun can easily peel it off. It’s essential to prep the surface for painting by removing any debris.

You might damage the paintwork by the presence of sand, grime, mud, and feces, which can eventually cause the paint to peel. Eliminate dirt and let the deck dry. After cleaning the deck, give it a once-over to ensure it’s spotless.

cleaning deck

And if you’re in doubt, giving it another wash is worth the effort. Trust me, ensuring a clean surface now can save loads of hassle in the future, ensuring the paint adheres properly. And a pro tip: using a high-powered sprayer can make the task of removing stubborn grime and old paint a breeze.

Step #6: Allow it to Dry

Since the deck is clean, it needs to dry. Wet surfaces do not accept paint. It’s also essential that the wood is dry on the inside, as moisture causes it to swell. Sundry it thoroughly before painting it.

The deck is good to use in a few hours, primarily if you reside in a dry climate. But, if you reside in a region where moisture is consistently present, wait until the next day to allow the deck to dry.

All the paint drying time for a deck can vary widely depending on several factors. Follow the directions on the stain label for the best results.

Step #7: Apply Prime and Paint

Use a high-bonding exterior and interior primer to ensure a long life for your deck. Prime the surface with two or three thin coats, ensuring each adheres well. Do not apply another coat of primer for at least an hour. (Learn more about the actual drying time of primers next!)

preparing paint primer

However, some paints serve as primers and finishes in a single container. If that’s the color you’re going for, there’s no need to prime the deck beforehand. For other options, you can check these beautiful paint colors for decks

Make sure you have high-quality paint suitable for outdoor use before you apply it to any horizontal surfaces.  You can use a paint sprayer for decks, rollers, or brushes so that the surface gets painted properly.

Use a long-handled paint roller if you want to paint comfortably and with minimal effort. Paint the spaces between the floors utilizing a grooved brush and a crack. If not, your work will look unfinished.

You may even spray-paint the whole deck. This method is more efficient than using a brush or roller and covers more ground with the right paint. Brush or roll the spray paint back and forth across the deck boards to provide an even coating.

Step #8: Dry the Paint and Add the Second Coat

It is essential to wait until the paint has dried before applying another paint coat. The temptation to add additional paint when it’s almost dry is understandable, but doing so will make the paint weak.

painting deck

Being patient while painting a deck is better so that it can properly adhere to the surface. Let the paint coat dry.

Applying a second layer of paint after the first one has dried. This is optional, but doing it will give you a nice, even paint coat. More paint will also make your paint last longer in the harsh outdoor environment.

Step #9: Do the Finishing Details

When the first layer of paint has dry, use the same brush or roller to apply the second. Allow this new coat to dry for the specified amount of time, plus an extra day or two, before utilizing your deck.

Now that you know how to paint a deck with peeling paint, you need to maintain it to keep it looking good for years!

Repainting Your Deck Without Stripping in 6 Steps

Step #1: Inspect the Old Deck Paint

Analyze how badly the existing paint is peeling on the wood deck. You can use a wire brush, paint scraper, or putty knife to remove the peeling deck paint. You should countersink nails and protruding wood, then use wood filler to fill any gaps.

inspecting deck

Step #2: Do the Sanding

You’ll need to do some scuff sanding around the wooden deck and any spots where the old paint remains in good shape.

Step #3: Tidy Up the Entire Deck

Clean the wooden deck with a garden hose and give it ample time to dry, whether that’s a couple of hours or overnight, considering the humidity levels where you live.

Step #4: Apply Primer on Bare Wood Spots

After you clean it with a garden hose, the old deck and the new paint you intend to use will benefit from a priming coat.

Step #5: Apply Paint over the Entire Deck

If you use a sprayer or roller, you can put more paint in half the time. If you are not okay with the look of brush strokes and wood grain, another option is to use a paintbrush.

painting deck with paint roller

Step #6: Allow the first Coat of Paint to Dry then Apply the Second Coat

If you do this step, your paint job should last for years without chipping or peeling. Wait a couple of days after applying the final coat of paint before you can touch it.

How To Prevent Paint From Peeling On Wood

How to Maintain Your Deck Clean

I’ve found it beneficial to use a mild cleaning solution between paint coats to keep the surface pristine. And to truly preserve the wood’s integrity, I also recommend sealing it every couple of years with a sealer specifically crafted for wood. It goes a long way in extending the wood’s lifespan and maintaining its appearance.

You can enjoy a new deck finish for many years if you follow the prescribed drying time for every coat, if you prepped the surface correctly, and if you use the right tools.

Indications of Peeling Paint

You must repaint when your deck shows signs of flaking or peeling. It may be time to repaint the your deck’s old paint if it’s starting to peel or flake in large sections, or if the older painted deck is fading.

deck paint peeling

The paint of your deck may fade or chip if it is constantly subjected to the elements, such as the sun and rain. When this occurs, you should apply new paint on your deck immediately.

Overall, painting a deck is a challenging task. You need to spend money on materials and time under the sun is necessary to restore the surface’s aesthetic appeal. 

The extra work and following the deck painting tips and procedures are well worth it, though, if you want the deck to have the best and most durable surface.

More painting guides here

FAQ

Do I need to remove old paint before painting deck?

Yes, you need to remove the old paint before painting your deck, especially if it is already flaking, peeling, or otherwise damaged because there will be bubbles and peeling of the new layer if you do not. You can paint on the existing paint if it is in good condition.

Is it best to roll or brush paint on your deck?

Applying deck paint requires a blend of brushing and rolling techniques. While rolling is quicker, you’ll need access to under-deck spaces and other tight spots. Using the final touches and reaching those inaccessible spots are much easier with a brush.

What’s the reason my wood porch paint peels off?

Long-term exposure to the elements, especially dampness, can cause the paint on a porch to peel. The weather causes the porch wood to expand and compress, blistering and peeling paint. But improper surface preparation before painting could also be to blame.

Why is my deck paint peeling after one year?

Your deck paint is flaking off because you did not prep it properly, either because the wood wasn’t thoroughly cleaned and sanded or because you didn’t apply the paint until after the wood had cured. A lack of drying time between coats or low-quality paints is also a probable cause.

Is it best to stain or paint a deck?

Staining a deck is more time-efficient than painting since it highlights the wood’s grain. However, painting is a great way to cover up flaws and add a splash of color to your space. However, both can shield the wood from the elements.

Conclusion

I hope this guide was able to show you how to paint your deck with peeling paint the correct way. 

There are many reasons why a deck paint peel, and whatever this is, you have to remember to prep the deck surface, clear the sanding dust, and prime before you paint over it. Two coats of paint will work for extreme and mild cases of peeling paint.  

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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