One of the all-important questions that a newfound homeowner must ask him- or herself is how to deck-orate their porch, patio or indoor hardwood floors. We’re not talking about chairs, tables, umbrellas and a grill — think deck primer, paint, stains, and sealants. If you own a home with a wooden deck, it’s essential that you protect it from pests, erosion and general abuse with a coat of paint. However, it’s equally important to choose a product that works with your deck since the wrong combination can have disastrous results. There’s no one-size-fits-all advice here: Read the instructions on the product to ensure that it’s safe for your particular deck.
No matter what happens, you always want to clean the deck and strip any prior coats of sealant or paint. Skipping this quintessential step can result in bubbling, cracking and tearing down the road as you put mileage on the new coat. You also need to consider the type of wood that it’s made from as well as the type of paint that you want to use.
Table of Contents
Best Deck Paint Comparison Table
|Coverage (Sq Ft Per Gallon)*
|RTG Deck Paint
|White, Amber, Sand
|KILZ Over Armor Coating
|0.25 & 1
|Rust-Oleum Marine Topside Paint
|No. Non-slip additive sold separately
|KILZ Latex Floor Paint
|Silver, Slate Gray
|Anvil Deck Resurfacer Paint
|Driftwood, Butternut, Cedar, Walnut, Redwood
TotalBoat TotalTread — Best Pool Deck Paint
This is a no-nonsense solution that doesn’t do much for the eyes, but that’s not what TotalBoat was aiming for with TotalTread.
* Actual paint colors may vary from swatches shown.
As the name suggests, this is totally meant to help you hold traction while traversing over a wet boat deck, and it does this wonderfully. It’s easy to apply the coats and wash it without warping the paint job. It gets to the point: no muss, no fuss.
RTG Deck, Porch, Patio Anti-Slip Paint — Best Deck Floor Paint
This might be the finest indoor paint on the list that doubles as an excellent outdoor solution as well. It’s eco-friendly, non-slip, non-abrasive and offers the whole range of protections from UV rays, water and traversal in one mighty fine product. The safety factor of this product makes it ideal for use around kids, pets and the environment as well as wet places such as kitchen and bathroom floors. This is all-around one of the nicest offerings that we reviewed here.
KILZ Over Armor Textured — Best Deck Paint for Old Wood
It was a close call against Deck-A-New and KILZ Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain, but what won Over Armor its place here was the mix of cost efficiency, reliability and raw power to get it done. Recommended for worn and weathered decks, KILZ’ solution lasts 3-5 years and embraces even the toughest conditions. It also helps old wood mend itself together and return to its former glory over time. Keep in mind that the wood must be intact: This isn’t a liquid carpenter.
Best Deck Paint Reviews
As a 40-year leader in the industry of home improvement chemicals, KILZ brings a low-luster solution for your patio or porch deck in a one-gallon bucket that should knock out a solid 300 square feet.
This product is designed to provide general outdoor protection from traversal, rain, sunlight and general daily abuse, and it coats the wood in a neutral pale gray color that should blend in nicely against any backdrop. While it’s not the most attractive option, the goal with KILZ offering is long-lasting protection, and user reviews find that it does this rather well.
When you read “Over Armor”, you know right away that this product is going to keep your deck in good standing for years to come.
Designed for weathered wood and concrete porches and patios, this offering from KILZ should help restore these surfaces with a super viscous and completely acrylic resin. Because of this composition, you’ll need to be extra thorough when cleaning and stripping your deck.
The color is a low-luster orange-red. This is different from what’s represented on the can, which suggests that it should be more of a bright red, but it’s suitable for a deck nonetheless. This product is also available in Chocolate Brown and Slate Gray colors.
You can apply and spread it evenly with a brush or roller — take your pick. Users cite that this product does a superb job of protecting surfaces from daily abuse and survives for an above-average length of time in addition to this.
We’re not going to hide it: The packaging graphics aren’t very convincing. However, it’s so much more than a simple coat of coloration for your deck.
True to its name, Deck-A-New renews the consistency of your weathered deck materials while protecting them from further damage down the road. It brings five warm, wood-tone colors to match your deck material, and it ships in as little as one gallon all the way up to five gallons to cover spaces of all sizes. It’s already shaping up to be a great offering from one of the lesser-known home improvement companies.
Advertised as repairing decks that are structurally sound, you’re supposed to use this on porches and patios that have suffered the test of time and are still standing strong if a little tarnished.
Don’t apply this to collapsing wood. Chances are that if the deck is falling apart, you’re better off replacing the wood altogether for safety reasons. Anvil’s offering can seal up cracks, splinters and minor breakages for worn but stable surfaces. Using textured acrylic, Deck-A-New should secure steady footing even in the rain and snow while protecting your deck from all outdoor conditions, but beware of the low coverage values: One gallon may not be enough.
RTG is here with an excellent, well-rounded solution that does a little bit of everything for your exterior surfaces. This product should work great on wooden or concrete decks, and its textured properties mean nobody should be slipping and sliding when precipitation. Laying it on is easy, and waiting for it to dry is even easier.
You’re recommended to use this on just about any outdoor surface provided vehicles aren’t driving on it, and the gritty additive that improves traction won’t tear up your boots or the substrate, unlike other paints and stains.
Something else that’s really great about RTG’s product is the sheer eco-friendliness of it. Other deck chemicals seem to ignore this aspect in varying degrees. RTG really made it a point to keep this paint safe for everyone. In this way, this is one of the safest overall deck-sealing solutions that we’re reviewing today.
The only issue to take note of is that you may struggle to cover all of the space that’s advertised on a per-gallon basis. It’s unclear if this is due to some shipments being lemons or if some users are applying it incorrectly.
It says it very clearly on the front: “Durabak-18, polyurethane protective coating”. You know what that means? You have an exceptional protective solution for your indoor and outdoor surfaces.
It comes a plethora of colors — more than any other item we’ve reviewed on this list — and it incorporates anti-slip properties to help you stay on steady footing even when it rains or snows out. This product is probably geared more for outdoor applications, but users find that it makes a nice indoor solution as well.
This is an almost goof-proof product that can be laid down without any specific method of application required. And it bonds quite easily to just about any wooden or concrete surface. It also bonds to itself, which means that on the off chance something messes up, you can easily repair the result and carry on like nothing happened. This property of Dura-Bak’s product really makes it great for beginners who are attempting to paint their own deck.
The reviews are mostly excellent, but users recommend that you don’t apply this to aluminum surfaces. Some suggest that you should stick to Herculiner’s products, which are said to be identical but less expensive and with better support.
Don’t let that simple label throw you for a loop: It’s a simple product, but it does amazing things.
Keeping the sheen down to a minimum, you shouldn’t experience any issues with sun glare, which one of the great reasons that manufacturers try to keep the gloss factor low in these products.
However, the important part is that it’s a slip-resistant paint that’s designed for decks of any material. Be wary of the mineral additive that provides this slip resistance as it can tear up the substrate if you’re not careful while applying it.
On the flip side, we’re here to admit that yes, this is quite an expensive offering that costs significantly more by the quart than gallon-sized offerings do of other, similar products. Users cite that the price is worthwhile due to the excellent look and feel of it, and it should work just fine on home decks as much as boats.
However, the longevity of the coat is questionable since it tends to come off in as little as a few weeks. Some also found that the anti-skid additive appeared to throw the color and consistency off despite how easily the product was to apply.
Designed specifically for boats, Rustoleum has a unique, high-gloss product on this list. Their topside paint is intended for use on wood, metal and fiberglass components that safely rest above the waterline.
The paint, which is actually formulated from oil, can be evenly spread without trouble. Within two hours, it’s already dry and ready for the toils of everyday use. Of course, Rustoleum’s product would hardly be worth the mention if it didn’t also protect the deck that you apply it on, and this one covers everything from sunlight and heavy water to abrasion and general traversal. It’s a good product to deck your small ship with.
The main factor to look out for is peeling: The paint tends to flake off after a couple months’ use, especially on wooden surfaces. It wasn’t seen as a deal-breaker among users, but it’s important to note that being oil-based will render this product susceptible to an early checkout if exposed heavily to the sun.
The TotalBoat TotalTread is a total treat for your total deck — totally. The name and label tell you right away that this was meant to be used in marine applications, and it appears to do the job well.
Included features are three sterile colors that suit a typical boat, rapid recoating as a one-part varnish, and the all-important non-abrasive traction addition — because who in the world wants to be on a wet deck with slick paint under their heels?
There are pretty much no problems whatsoever with this paint. You could argue about the handful of claims that it does nothing for traction and actually made the deck more slick when wet, but those make up an extremely pedestrian chunk of user reviews.
Best Deck Paint Buyer’s Guide
Choosing proper deck paint can be very difficult, because there are many types of paint for wood that fits the purpose. Each type has its pros and cons. You need to approach this question responsibly in order to avoid any mistakes that can potentially result in numerous problems.
Since summer has come, and with it – the season of work outdoors, we decided to help our readers understand what kind of deck paint is the best.
Wood is quite a common material for construction or sheathing siding, but over time it loses its original appearance and warps. To slow down the aging of the wood, they use deck paint for outdoors. It preserves the authentic coat and adds the desired decorative look to the surfaces.
The best deck paint should have the following properties:
- Prevent cracking. Ultraviolet rays and precipitation affect the wood and the structure starts changing, which eventually leads to warping.
- Protect the surface from microorganisms and insects. The fact is: wooden coat is an excellent environment for fungus and mold growth, and it attracts insects.
- Wear-resistance. It guarantees durability.
- High-quality decorative element that should be able to preserve its original look throughout the years.
Oil Deck Paint
In the past, oil paint was considered one of the most sought-after materials. The situation is gradually changing, but this paint is still being used for wooden surfaces. This paint, most often, consists of two major components – oil and mineral additives. Because additives contain solids, they start settling down over time, so you must stir paint before use.
This deck paint has the following properties:
- Excellent bonding with the base coat.
- Long drying time: up to two days. Naturally, it complicates the working process, because you must be very accurate with timing.
- Poor resistance to ultraviolet rays. The coat gradually loses its original appearance, fades and becomes colorless. So, the service life of the decorative layer doesn’t exceed 4-5 years, and together with a strong, unpleasant smell, it makes this type of deck paint less popular.
Alkyd Deck Paint
It is an excellent alternative to oil paint. It is made of a special varnish which belongs to the category of alkyd pentaphthalic varnishes. To achieve the desired effect, they add certain ingredients: oils, glycerin, resin and a fine fraction of sand and granite. This paint is often used to paint stand-alone, cottage-like houses.
This paint has a lot of great properties:
- Excellent resistance to various weather conditions. As a result, the coat withstands precipitation and prevents penetration of moisture. It can also withstand significant temperature changes.
- Affordable. Alkyd deck paint is not very expensive, so purchasing it will not affect your budget.
- A wide range of decorative possibilities. This paint has an ability to create various visual effects.
Of course, this product has a number of cons too:
- Fire hazard. The material is highly flammable, so it is not safe to use it.
- This deck paint is not very durable. The service life is under 7 years, although many people consider it sufficient.
- Long-lasting unpleasant odor. Remember that the smell will remain there until the surface dries up completely.
Water-Based Deck Paint
Today, water-based paint gains more and more popularity. It is due to the fact that this paint has both excellent qualities and durability. There are a few kinds of this paint: latex, silicone, silicate, and acrylic. The latter option is most often used as deck paint.
Acrylic Deck Paint
Acrylic deck paint has a lot of pros, but you must pay particular attention to a proper storage of this paint because in low temperatures this paint loses its properties almost completely.
The product features:
- Resistance to weather conditions, especially to sun rays, which helps to preserve color much longer.
- Excellent water vapor permeability – a very important quality. The paint coat does not allow moisture to penetrate from outside, and it does not interfere with the vapor transfer within the wooden structure.
- Good covering ability. Two layers of coat are almost always enough in order to get a beautiful and even surface, even if you apply it to a darker base.
- Elasticity. This is an important factor, especially for exterior painting. The material is subjected to constant compression and expansion, but due to elasticity it does not crack and does not exfoliate. Acrylic deck paint can be used even in new construction projects.
- Environmentally friendly. This deck paint does not contain ingredients that can affect human health. And it does not have unpleasant smell.
- Quick drying time. The paint is easy to apply, and within 6-8 hours it dries completely.
- Wear resistance. The coating is susceptible to serious mechanical stress, but it is easy to repair.
We recommend taking into account the following criteria for applying this deck paint:
- If you need color matching, try to do it at the store where you purchase paint: it will give you clearer shades of any color.
- It is required to carefully calculate the required amount of paint. Manufacturers indicate the norm of consumption on the label, but it is always approximate.
- It is better to choose stores that work with established, well-known manufacturers. This way you will avoid buying a poor-quality product.
Rubber Deck Paint
Rubber deck paint is a modern material with the properties that are slightly superior to those of the acrylic paint because it contains special additives. It has another name: latex paint.
- Safe for humans and animals. You can work with the paint without protective gloves and a respirator.
- Excellent durability. A wear-resistant film is formed on the surface, and it covers the cracks; it also has elasticity.
- Water vapor permeability. The coat allows the base to breathe.
How to choose the best deck paint? Any statement about one product being much better than the other would be inappropriate.
It is necessary to focus on the following criteria:
- Manufacturer. You should go for deck paint of established manufacturers that have good reputation. KILZ, Anvil Paints, Ready Seal are well established trademarks in the US market. Their products have an optimal price-to-quality ratio and a wide selection.
- Expiration date. It is the first thing you must check before purchasing paint, because eventually paint loses its properties.
- The price. High cost is not always a guarantee of quality, and seeking cheap product is not the best solution either.
- Special features of the house. It is always helpful to take into account the properties of the material that was used for finishing: for example, wood can be of different varieties, species, and age. The climatic conditions are of great importance as well.
- Prepping. Each type of paint requires special treatments and primers.
- Appearance. It depends on individual preferences.
Only after considering all the factors described above you will be able to make a good, solid decision.
Best Deck Paint FAQ
A) “How should you prepare a deck for painting?”
The first step is determining if there are currently any paint or sealant coats on it. If you can’t see the coat, you should sprinkle water all around the deck and notice whether the water beads up or is absorbed into the wood or concrete. Absorption means that there’s no sealant; however, beading up means you’ll need to pressure-wash the surface to eliminate the coat. With or without the presence of sealant, you’ll need to thoroughly wash the surface of any detritus prior to applying primer. The primer is used to help the paint or sealant adhere and settle firmly to the substrate.
B) “My deck is pitted and weathered. Can I still paint this?”
You most certainly can paint damaged wood provided it’s structurally stable to begin with. You’ll still need to follow the usual steps of cleaning off any dirt and stripping any prior layers of sealant or paint before beginning. The only difference is that with wood that’s in worn condition, you should consider a paint that’s designed for it. These paints have mending properties and are usually tougher against the elements while staining the wood to a brighter color, emulating the appearance of a new deck.
C) “What happens if I don’t completely strip previous layers of oil or stain paints from the deck prior to applying new ones?”
Even if the new coat is also a stain or oil paint, you should still completely strip the old coat because they may struggle to adhere. Even if they appear to adhere at first, you run the risk of the new layer peeling off much sooner and failing to provide coloration, gloss and protection that’s advertised on the product. It’s worth noting that some paints will stick well regardless, so your neighbor Tom who managed to re-stain his deck without stripping the prior coat was a lucky fellow. Be safe, protect your investment and just strip the old layers before applying a new one.
D) “What’s the difference between stains and paints?”
Paint is thicker, more costly and requires more effort to apply. It’s an opaque film that sits on top of the substrate completely, overwriting the color underneath and coating the deck with a thin barrier. Deck stains are much thinner and generally soak into the substrate, tinting the deck’s usual color and providing a sheen. You generally only need to apply a single coat of a stain, and there’s typically no need for a primer. Because the stain effectively becomes part of the substrate instead of simply coating it, it’s much better for showing off the texture of your deck. Both solutions require the same cleaning and stripping prerequisites before you coat your deck.
What’s the bottom line on decks? They’re more than just surfaces to walk on; they’re also visual hallmarks of a well-maintained home. Many home-owners associations (HOAs) require that your deck reflects a certain look or level of quality, and the last thing you want is to purchase a product that throws all that sideways.
Always carefully inspect the labels on your primers, paints and sealants to be exactly sure of what you’re getting because mistakes of this sort can be quite expensive. Many times, though, you’ll get lucky and the mistakes just peel away or never stick, to begin with. You may be wise to hire a professional to make absolutely sure that it’s done right since a well-layered coat will provide a beautiful, well-protected deck for years to come.