‘Essential’ way to paint decking ‘to guarantee the best finish’ – ‘saves time and effort’

Gardeners' World offer advice on the 'best way' to clean decking

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Painting a deck is a good option for giving an old space a fresh new look, or for adding colour to a new one. It’s reasonably simple, not too labor-intensive and easy to tackle yourself. Understanding how to paint a deck effectively will not only ensure you get the best finish, but will also help with weatherproofing and long-term maintenance of your deck. Whilst a simple paint job on your decked area may be sufficient, there’s no denying the difference careful preparation methods or a well chosen colour can make on the overall outcome.

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Whether you are switching up the colour of your deck, or have just learnt how to build one and and want to finish it with paint, these steps will allow you to tackle the task seamlessly.

Equipment needed:

  • Electric sander and paper
  • A broom
  • A primer
  • Decking paint
  • Paint brushes 
  • Paint roller or pad

Tobie Lewis, Senior Brand Manager at Valspar explained: “When painting a decking area, ensure the weather is forecast as dry and fully prepare the surfaces, to guarantee the best finish possible.”

He advised removing all items first, such as tables, chairs, plant pots, etc. 

The expert also suggested removing any loose or flaking pieces with a paint stripper or by sanding the area down. 

Once you are satisfied with your sanding, clean your deck with a stiff bristled brush or broom.

Tobie noted: “If there are any holes or cracks, they can easily be repaired with a wood filler.”

Finish by giving the whole deck a final clean with a dedicated product.

Caroline Thornborough, co-founder of Thorndown Paints advised: “Making sure your decking boards are dry prior to painting is essential.

“The boards should have a moisture content of less than 20 percent.

“If they are too wet the paint won’t fix and bond properly, leading to peeling and lifting.”

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Caroline also recommends investing in a protimeter to measure levels of humidity in the wood. 

She said: “It can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.”

The next step is to choose your paint and there are many different options and colour choices available when it comes to painting a deck.

If your deck is adjacent to the house, you could try matching it to create a sense of cohesion. 

Or perhaps you want to be inspired by the nature that encompasses it, opting for a green or auburn hue.

Tobie said: “You can treat your decking as either the base for your outdoor space’s palette, or an opportunity to contrast with an existent theme.”

It’s also important to consider the type of paint you will use as Tobie suggested using paint that has a UV resistant formula. 

This will give your garden deck a durable coating and make it much more resilient to weather potentially damaging conditions. 

In order to give your painted deck longevity, it’s worth applying primer to the raw wood. 

Caroline recommends using “a stain blocking primer if you’re painting a light colour onto the decking” as this will avoid any tannin stains or resin bleeds showing through. 

Start by applying with a brush between the deck boards and work your way down the deck, priming every seam between boards – be sure to cover all areas the roller cannot reach. 

Move on to using the roller or paint pad, covering the deck boards with primer and working backward, then let it dry thoroughly before you apply your paint.

When applying your chosen colour, again the best method will be to start with a brush. 

If your deck has slatted areas, balustrades and other details it may be best to start with a small angled paint brush.

Caroline explained: “Make sure you get the paint well into all of the nooks and crannies, in between the grooves on the decking board surface, and in between the boards so you get the sides too.”

Pay particular attention to areas you need to “cut-in” such as where the exterior wall meets the wood of the deck. 

It’s much better to use a brush on these areas rather than using masking tape, which can be messy and problematic.

For the main part of the deck Tobie recommends “choosing the application method that suits you – whether that’s a paint roller or a decking pad.”

Ensure the first coat is totally dry before applying the next then allow it to dry thoroughly before you move furniture and plant pots back.

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