How to paint decking – a handy step by step guide

Refresh garden decking with paint with these top tips
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  • With our gardens slowly coming to life again, it’s time to get ahead with garden prep ready for the summer season. If you have a decked area, it’s a good idea to give it some TLC, securing any loose boards, cleaning off mildew before finding out how to paint decking to give it a new coat of paint.

    There are plenty of decking ideas to help you make the most of your garden, but to keep your decking in top condition, some regular maintenance will keep it looking good for years to come. ‘Make sure decking is cleaned regularly and try to avoid leaves or soil from collecting on the surface. Put saucers or terracotta feet under your planters and keep it as clear as possible in the winter,’ advises Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux and Cuprinol. ‘When you see signs of wear and tear, clean, allow to dry and apply another couple of coats of anti-slip decking stain.’

    Read our guide below so you can be confident in how to paint decking.

    How to paint decking

    Exterior of weatherboard wooden detached house with raised decking

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    What you’ll need:

    • Stiff bristled broom
    • Decking cleaner
    • Bucket
    • Pressure washer/garden hose
    • Filler/screws
    • Screwdriver
    • Masking tape
    • Decking paint
    • Decking paintbrush

    1. Clear away dirty and debris

    natural wood deck with wood fencing and pastel painted bistro set

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Before you go cracking open the paint, prepping your decking first is the best way to make sure you get a long lasting finish. Start by removing any furniture or plant pots from your decking so you have a clear space to work in. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast to make sure no rain is due while you’re painting or a few days after while the paint is drying.

    2. Prep the surface

    Use a stiff bristled broom to sweep over the decking, making sure you get into all the grooves to clear them of dried leaves and other debris. Once clear, use decking cleaner to help remove mould, algae and dirt and use a pressure washer or your garden hose to carefully wash everything away and leave until completely dry.

    By putting in the effort with the prep, you’ll get the best results. ‘The best way to ensure you get the longest lasting finish that will be able to cope with everything the weather, your feet and furniture have to chuck at it you need to prepare and paint it in the right way,’ says Marianne.

    3. Make any repairs

    Raised deck in corner of garden with two garden sofas, gardening screen, garden rug and festoon lights

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    Once clean and dry, go over your decking and check for any loose screws, broken boards or areas that may need filling. Make any repairs that are needed and once you’re happy that everything is in good condition, use masking tape to seal off any areas that you don’t want to get paint on such as the brickwork of your house or the garden fence.

    4. Paint your decking

    Start in the area furthest away from you and work backwards so you don’t have to walk on any newly painted areas. Paint in the direction of the grain using a decking brush, making sure you have an even coverage.

    If your decking has grooves make sure they are painted properly too by going over the area several times to reach difficult areas. Leave your first coat to dry for the time recommended by the paint manufacturer before adding another coat.

    5. Leave to dry

    Wooden decking with terracotta painted garden wall and large planters

    Image credit: Sadolin

    Before you put any garden furniture or plant pots back, make sure your decking is completely dry and check the surface carefully to make sure you haven’t missed any spots. If you’re putting plant pots on your decking, make sure they are raised off the ground slightly or they have feet to prevent a build up of mould or algae underneath.

    When moving furniture, don’t be tempted to drag it along the surface as this may scratch the newly painted surface.

    6. Keep it well maintained

    Now your decking is looking like new it’s important to look after it with regular maintenance so it stays in top condition. ‘To keep your decking well-maintained, brush it regularly and at least once a year, do a deep-clean with your pressure washer. This will help to remove any grease or grime, which causes your deck to become slippery when wet,’ says Darryl Jeffree, paint buying manager at Homebase.

    ‘Twice a year (in Spring and Autumn), inspect your deck for any nails that may have come loose, cracks that need filling, paint touch-ups, and for indications of rot or mould.’ Understanding how to clean decking effectively will make the job a lot easier.

    What kind of paint do I use for decking?

    Pink painted raised deck with blue painted fence and outdoor living area furniture

    Image credit: Future PLC/Caroline Marden

    There are lots of different outdoor paint ideas and it’s important to make sure the paint you decide on is up to the job. ‘Always choose paint for decking that has been specially designed for decking. It needs to be tough, quick drying, non-slip and offer long lasting weather protection,’ says Marianne. ‘Try Cuprinol Anti Slip Decking stain which comes in 12 colours and is all of the above plus it’s water based too, so no horrible smell or harmful solvents for you or the environment to deal with.’

    As well as looking good, painting decking also helps to protect the wood. ‘Coatings allow the user to protect the decking from unwanted excess moisture ingress, UV damage (when it goes grey) and protection from the elements while retaining an even colour,’ explains Matthew Brown, technical consultant at Sadolin and Sandtex.

    How do I remove paint from decking?

    When repainting decking, it’s important to get the prep right to make sure you have a long lasting finish. ‘If you have applied deck paint in the past, use a scraper to remove the remaining layers,’ advises Christian Roberts, decking expert at MyJobQuote. ‘After that, sand down the decking in the direction of your deck boards. Keep in mind that this will only work for smooth decking boards and not grooved ones.’

    What’s the best colour to paint a deck?

    Today there are a multitude of colours to choose from when it comes to decking paint, the ones below are some that we think make great colour choices.

    • Natural – A colour a similar shade to the wood itself will help the decking to blend in naturally to the surroundings, especially any fencing that hasn’t been painted.
    • Black – For an ultra modern monochrome scheme, black looks really stylish. Alternatively, team with brightly painted garden furniture so it really pops against the dark background.
    • Sage green – Painting decking a shade of green helps to make it blend into the surroundings especially if you have lots of natural planting.
    • Light grey/white – Channel a New England vibe with decking painted in a light shade and add lots of woven furniture and accessories for a relaxed look.
    • Inky blues – They are all the rage when it comes to interiors but this soulful shade works just as well outside especially when paired with metallic accessories and lighting for a Moroccan inspired scheme.

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