Painting for Easy Deck Care
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 85 percent of American homes have a deck, porch, balcony, or patio. So it’s needless to say that deck maintenance is a major concern for a majority of homeowners. Decks must withstand all sorts of weather conditions, from the blazing summer sun to the frigid icicles of winter. While relatively new deck materials exist that resist temperature fluctuations and maintenance, most decks are still made from wood and thus require at least semi-regular maintenances. Wood decks are best preserved via painting or staining. Below is our resource for you, the homeowner, in all aspects of deck painting, from preparing the surface to buying the paint.
Preparing Your Deck
Deck painting begins with preparation. The older and more weatherworn decks may require more than a broom or a hose, to the point of high pressure washing and sanding. The most important thing is to get the surface clean and smooth. This may include all or some of the following steps:
- Replace any cracked, rotting, or otherwise deteriorated boards.
- Remove any chipping paint, sticky debris, or anything else that mars the surface or will be locked by the paint. This is where brooms and hoses come in handy. Older decks may have surface stains, moss, or discoloration on the deck and railings, in these cases it may be worth your time and money to buy or rent a pressure washer—they are faster, easier, and garner better results than more typical cleaning practices.
- Use a deck stripper to remove deep stains or oil spots.
Cleaning an older deck can be quite a task. Be sure to remember posts, railings, and any deck framing that may be visible or worth painting. Power washers are common tools for this job because of their speed and effectiveness. They can be dangerous as well, to you and your deck if not handled properly. Always bear in mind that there are local, qualified contractors are more than happy to clean and even paint your deck in a professional manner.
Painting Your Deck
Once clean, allow the deck at least 24 hours to dry. Then apply an exterior deck primer, which will seal the wood, waterproofing it, before any paint is applied. It will also help the paint to adhere to the deck surface, preventing any air bubbles or future peeling.
Now choose a high-quality exterior paint. There are several paint products specifically designed for outdoor deck surfaces. These may be oil-based, high-gloss, and even latex or water-based. The oil-based and high-gloss products are better suited to outdoor surfaces because they’ll hold up better against the elements than water-based deck paints.
A successfully painted deck should last a few years at minimum with fairly simple maintenance. Be sure to keep the deck clean of dirt and debris, for instance, do not allow clumps or piles of leaves and debris to collect on the deck as this will accelerate the breaking down of the paint. Simply sweep or wash off your deck on a somewhat regular basis and after storms, wind, and other events that are likely to leave debris.
Deck Paint Brands
Kelly-Moore Paints is a large, employee-owned paint manufacturer, with over 163 retail stores nationwide and 1,500 employees. They specialize in oil based paints, including primers, for exterior use but also have a range of latex paints as well for use on wood surfaces. Kelly-Moore’s entire line of Acry-Shield paints and primers claim low odor and low-VOC status. They market one oil-based primer (220 Weather Shield) for use on outdoor wood surfaces. Kelly-Moore, along with California Paints (below), is one of Consumer Reports’ top picks in paint products.
BEHR is a household name among paints, and is available at Home Depot. BEHR offers Porch and Floor paint designed only for application on pre-primed and clean deck surfaces. It is acrylic latex, mildew resistant and available in Low-Lustre and Gloss sheens. Only two paint colors and three “tintable” bases qualify as low-VOC, however.
Valspar offers both latex and oil porch and floor exterior paints, both available at Lowe’s. Valspar’s product pages also have specific instructions regarding coverage, preparation, and application of their products.
California Paints offers environmentally friendly paint solutions. They over several exterior paints that can be used on decks, the highlight being California’s AllFlor Epoxy Fortified acrylic floor enamel. This self-priming paint is perfect for new or unfinished wood surfaces. All their porch and floor paints are specifically manufactured to be low-VOC. California Paints is recognized as one of the best paint companies by Consumer Reports.
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