Can you paint composite decking or Trex to protect them from fading due to prolonged sun exposure?

Trex or composite deck boards are popular alternatives to traditional wood decks. One of the main selling points of a composite deck is its low-maintenance property. However, if you have used these composite boards, you know they can become discolored over time.

So, read along to learn how to paint Trex composite decking;

What’s covered in this article;

  • Can you paint Trex decking
  • Painting Trex decking
  • What is Composite decking and types
  • Can you stain Trex decking
  • Paint to match Trex decking

Can you Paint Composite Decking or Trex Decking? 

Yes. It’s possible to stain or paint Trex or composite deck with proper surface preparation. First, you need to clean the deck, scuff it, and prime it to accept paint. Ensure you use an acrylic latex exterior primer and a latex paint with a semi-gloss or satin finish for this purpose. If you want to stain the Trex or composite deck instead, use an acrylic latex stain with mildew and UV inhibitors for the best results. 

Things to Consider Before Painting Composite Decks

The quality of your stain or paint job will depend on how best you prep the surface. Before painting composite decking, ensure it’s free from molds, mildew, and grime. 

You could use a commercial cleaner designed for this purpose or work with a homemade composite deck cleaner. If you choose the latter, consider creating the cleaner by mixing soap and water. 

If you have mildew and molds on your deck, add vinegar and baking soda to the cleaning solution. Alternatively, soak the surface with vinegar before washing with soap and water. 

How to Paint Composite Decking

When it’s time to restore your deck with a fresh coat of paint, ensure you have the right tools and follow the correct steps. 

Here is what you will need:

  • Soft-bristle brush for scrubbing dirt off the surface 
  • Pressure washer for cleaning 
  • Baking soda and vinegar for removing mold and mildew
  • Commercial composite deck cleaner (optional) 
  • Dropcloth or plastic sheeting 
  • Medium-grit sandpaper (preferably 240-grit)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer
  • Paint sprayer, roller, or brush
  • Paint designed for exterior surfaces 

Steps for Painting Trex Decking

Once you have the supplies you need to complete the task, here are the steps to follow. 

Step 1: Prepare the area

First, remove any potted plants on your deck and clear the place of any furniture. 

Also, use a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to cover plants or foliage that you don’t want the chemicals to damage. It’s upon you to decide whether to cover things with a tarp or remove them altogether. 

Step 2: Clean your deck

Start by wearing rubber gloves to prevent your skin from coming in contact with the cleaning solution. While some household cleaning products and soap may not be harsh, they can react with your skin nonetheless. 

Next, apply a soapy solution on the deck and let it soak for a few minutes before scrubbing it with a long-handle synthetic brush. Then, rinse the entire deck with a low-pressure power washer.

If you opt to use a commercial deck cleaner, ensure you read the label and follow the manufacturer’s use instructions.

Whether you use a homemade or commercial deck cleaner, set your power washer to low pressure to avoid the risk of causing any damage to the surface. 

If your deck has mold and mildew, ensure you soak them with a mixture of two parts vinegar and one part water before scrubbing. Create the mixture in a bucket and sprinkle some baking soda on the affected areas before applying the vinegar solution.

Once you finish scrubbing, rinse the surface and let it dry before proceeding. 

Step 3: Sand your deck

Composite decks don’t accept paint naturally like a real wood deck. So you need to scuff it up to improve adhesion. 

Use medium-grit sandpaper to prep the surface for priming and painting. A 240-grit sandpaper should do an excellent job scuffing the surface to offer paint something to grip on.

While at it, consider sanding along the direction of the wood grain to avoid the possibility of creating visible scratches while sanding. You only need to de-gloss the surface and make it smooth, so don’t sand too deep. 

After sanding, wipe away the sanding dust with a tack cloth and then a damp rag and let it dry before proceeding to the next step. 

Step 4: Prime the deck 

The purpose of a primer is to make the paint job more durable by helping the paint stick better to your deck surface.

When working on Trex or composite decks, you want to choose an acrylic latex primer designed for exterior applications only. 

If your deck is attached to your home, this is the point to apply painter’s tape to the edges where the deck boards attach to your house. 

Transfer the primer into a roller tray, then use a paint roller to apply the product along the entire length of the composite planks.

You may want to go for a roller with an extension handle so you don’t have to bend too much. 

After applying the primer, you need to give it about two hours or more drying time, depending on what the product label says.  

Step 5: Apply the paint. 

After the primer has dried, you can proceed to the final, central part of the process. Put the paint in a roller tray and use a paint roller to apply it across the entire length of the composite deck. 

You will usually need more than one coat for the best results. Ensure you let the first coat dry completely before adding the second. The label on your product container should show you how long you need to wait between coats. 

Drying times will vary from one product to another, so pay attention to the manufacturer’s specific recommendation. 

What Is Trex or Composite Decking?

A composite deck is one made of composite lumber.

Composite lumber is a material made of plastics and wood fibers, with a binding agent mixed and compacted to form robust, solid deck planks. 

Because the composite lumbar undergoes a unique manufacturing process, the decking material is more robust, denser, and heavier than pure wood.

Trex is a type of composite deck material comprising 95 percent recycled or post-industrial materials. It’s made of recycled materials, including sawdust, reclaimed wood fibers, and many recycled plastic bags.

These materials create a solid deck board that is fade, scratch, stain, mold, termite, and warp-resistant.

The decking boards have grooved edges that use a concealed fastening system, eliminating the need for drilling or boring screw holes on the Trex deck surface.

Types of Composite Decking 

Not all composite deck boards are the same. They come from different manufacturing processes resulting in varying types of composite decking. 

Based on the manufacturing processes, there’re capped and uncapped composite decking, solid and hollow decking, as well as grooved and un-grooved composite decking. 

When buying composite decks, consider checking out the various types to see what you find most appealing before settling for a purchase. 

Composite decks are strong and resistant to mildew, molds, insects, and rot regardless of the type of manufacturing process.  As such, you can buy any type you find most pleasing. 

Can you Stain Trex Decking?

Yes, you can stain Trex decking. I would highly recommend a little pre-stain treatment first to seal the wood just in case it’s not quite ready for long-term staining. Regardless, you need to use a good oil-based sealer/stain before applying either the color finish or clear finish.

Should you Paint or Stain Composite Decking? 

Whether to paint or stain composite surface depends on the type of composite deck you have at home. 

If you have capped composite decking, consider painting instead of staining it. Composite deck stain works by absorbing into the substrate, but capped plastic composites don’t allow for much penetration.  

Applying two coats of paint on a prepped composite deck will provide a thick, longer-lasting layer and a better finish for your deck boards. 

We recommend using the highest quality exterior latex deck paint designed for decks to achieve the best results. 

You can stain composite decking like a standard wooden deck if it is uncapped. We recommend using an oil-based composite deck stain for better penetration and a more superior, moisture-resistant finish.

Staining has the advantage of saving you some time, so you should choose it over painting whenever the material allows it. In this case, staining should be the preference for a non capped composite decking. 

Paint, on the other hand, requires coating the surface with a primer first. This process can be more time-consuming than staining. 

So, use it only when staining is not an option. 

Best stain for composite decking

Penetrating deck stain is the best for composite decking. Avoid using thick or solid deck stains because they’ll form a film on the deck surface, which can cause mold problems by trapping moisture on the surface.

These solid stains can also start flaking and peeling in a matter of months, unlike penetrating stains that soak into the planks and provide more protection. Consider using an acrylic latex stain with mildew inhibitors and UV blockers for best results.  

In terms of stain colors, you can pick a semi-solid or semi-transparent stain since they do not form a surface film.

The Best Composite Deck Paint

As for what kind of paint can you use on composite decking, always go for high-quality latex paint. Consider going for a satin or semi-gloss finish to get a slick, shiny look on your pained composite decking.

Additionally, most manufacturers will be willing to recommend the type of paint to use with their composite deck boards. If you prefer this option, consider asking your manufacturer to recommend paint for you.

Paint to match Trex decking

Trex decking tends to have a glossy feel to them. If you want to maintain that sheen on your painted Trex deck, use high-quality latex paint in a semi-gloss or satin finish. You can choose your preferred color as such paints are available in a wide range of colors. 

Trex Deck Paint: Paint for Composite Decking

Composite decking requires latex paint with a satin or semi-gloss finish. To paint Trex deck, always start with an acrylic latex primer designed specifically for outdoor use. 

You should get some excellent coverage with Valspar or Rustoleum brands for composite decks. However, if you are painting a pool deck or any area that requires a bit of traction, opt instead for a Trex decking paint with texturing additives.

Painting Tips for Trex Composite Decking

You likely want to get the best possible results when panting older composite decking. That being the case, use these tips to make sure you paint Trex perfectly. 

Work with dry weather as much as possible. 

Indeed, you can’t control weather conditions, but you can plan your painting project on a day when the weather is warmer to facilitate quicker drying. 

Use back-brushing to cover any imperfections on your deck.

 If you are painting with a brush, the back-brushing technique will help you work the paint into the nooks and crannies or crevices on your composite deck. 

Avoid painting in direct sunlight. 

The excessive heat from the sun will accelerate the process, making your paint job dry too quickly. Such accelerated drying may result in undesirable sheen. 

Non Paintable Composite Decking

Granted, a good many Trex composite deckings are paintable and stainable. But we have a few which you should never paint.

  • Lumberrock boards
  • Transcend & Escapes from Trex
  • TimberTech products wil peel and crack if painted.

Can you Paint Composite Wood FAQs

How long will composite deck stain and paint last?

Paints will often last longer than stains on composite decks. Ideally, a painted composite deck can last as long as ten years before it requires repainting. On the other hand, a stained composite deck will likely need re-staining in one to eight years. 

Can I change the color of my composite deck?

Yes, you can paint your composite deck and change the color to something you like better. Painting can also freshen up the look of your composite deck since the material can fade and lose color with prolonged sun exposure and other many factors. 

Can composite flooring be painted?

Yes. Composite flooring will accept paint after being properly cleaned, scuffed up, and primed to improve paint adhesion. 

Can you paint old trex deck

Yes, use an oil-based primer and paint, which will help the colors last longer than the latex paints. If the old Trex deck has cracks from exposure to elements, sand it down before painting.

If you’re looking to change up your old Trex deck color scheme but don’t want to spend additional money on new lumber just yet, consider using a product that only stains the top layer – these are typically advertised as “waterproof”.

You check our best deck paint for old decks that won’t peel like many other paints on the market.

Does paint stick to composite decking?

Paint doesn’t stick to composite decking as composites are glossy on the surface. However, you can remove dirt, sand, and prime the composite decking to make the paint stick. 

Can you change the color of Trex decking?

Yes, you can paint Trex decking to change color after cleaning and sanding it. However, if you choose to paint the Trex deck, you must apply a primer before painting it to change the color. 

Can you paint plastic composite decking?

Yes, you can paint first-generation composite plastic decking. Before painting plastic decking, clean it well, scuff it up, and prime. Make sure to use plastic paint for decking for the best results.

Read: Can You Paint Azek a Dark Color?

Can you Paint Trex Decking Summary

Trex can be painted in any color if you want them to have a long lifespan. Some colors are better than others, which would depend on the normal wear and tear for your home.

Trex and composite decks manufacturers state that their product colors are permanent. However, if you have used these decking materials, then you know they fade over time. 

You don’t have to let a faded deck undermine your home’s curb appeal. Use this guide to walk you through the process of panting and restoring your composite deck. 

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