An old and failing deck paint is ugly. And since no one likes to hang out in a rustic exterior space, you ought to know how to paint a deck with peeling paint.

Let’s face it; every deck paint has a certain lifespan. When it runs out, you want to be able to DIY the deck resurfacing process. But first, do you know how to restore a peeling deck?

What steps do you need when repainting a wooden deck? You will find answers in the sections below.

Let’s dive in.

How to Paint a Deck With Peeling Paint

  1. Remove dirt and loose paint by washing your deck using a pressure washer.
  2. Scrape the old paint using a wire brush and putty knife. (Check our guide on the best wire brush for removing paint from wood).
  3. Sand your entire deck to strip down all the stubborn paint.
  4. Wash the sanded deck with a garden hose and let it dry fully.
  5. Prime and paint your deck using a paint roller or sprayer and paintbrushes.

There’re two possible solutions for restoring a peeling deck paint: repainting after removing paint from the deck and painting over peeling paint.

So, before you get more overwhelmed than you should, read to the end of this post.

How to Repaint a Deck with Peeling Paint

Repainting a deck with peeling paint may appear intimidating, but the finished product is highly satisfying.

The first method involves removing the flaking paint and then repainting it with a new coat.

Let’s get started;

Steps to repainting a deck

Step 1: Power Wash The Deck Thoroughly

Washing is necessary to eliminate dirt on the surface and grime trapped between deck boards, mold, and mildew.

Pressure wash the flaking paint off the surface. Use a rotating nozzle for your pressure washer and angle the washer wand to prevent the pressure from gouging the wood. Use sweeping motions and maintain a six to twelve-inch distance away from the surface.

Use an all-purpose deck cleaner and scrub with a stiff brush to remove any build-up debris. If you notice any mold or mildew on your deck, use a mildewcide cleaning solution.

Rinse your cleaned deck and let it dry for 48 hours or more if necessary.

Step 2: Scrape The Loose Paint

Remove more flaking paint using scraping tools. Use a wire brush in light sweeping strokes over the shedding paint to lift it off the floorboards.

If no more paint comes off by brushing, scrape them using a paint scraper or putty knife. Sink the sharp and flat scraping tool slightly below the paint and push it to peel it off the surface.

Unfortunately, this method is only practical for small spots of peeling paint. For large areas, you can use the best paint remover for wood decks.

Step 3: Sand the deck

Is the peeling paint consistent over a large area on your deck? In this case, powered tools make more sense.

Use a power sander to speed up the paint removal process. The advantage is you can buy or rent it for your projects at a nearby rental unit.

Use sandpapers (60-100 grit) on your deck and lightly sand along the wood grain. Replace the sandpapers when they get clogged, or the grits fade. Sand the surface evenly, but not too much to thin the wooden floorboards.

Wash the deck again with a garden hose to remove every sanding dust from your deck. After that, allow your deck to sit for another day or two to dry before painting.

Read also: Best way to clean wood after sanding.

Step 4: Prime and Paint 

Prime your deck using a high adhesive primer like KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior and Exterior Primer. Apply two to three layers of the primer, making sure to coat the surface evenly. Wait for an hour or two between each coat of primer.

So, do you apply paint over Kilz if your surface already looks flawless after priming with Kilz? Absolutely; while Kilz primer provides an excellent foundation and may leave your surface looking flawless, applying paint over Kilz is the final step to ensure a polished appearance and enhanced durability and protection.

Still, some paints contain both primers and paint in one can. So if that’s your chosen paint, you won’t need a separate deck primer.

First, ensure the paint is specifically designed for exterior horizontal surfaces.

Now, get ready for the deck painting process. You will need a paint roller, paintbrush, or deck paint sprayer.

Use a roller with an extension pole to apply the paint evenly and comfortably. Use a crack and groove brush to apply paint between the floorboards too. Otherwise, your work will appear incomplete.

Or, spray paint your entire deck. This method is faster and gets the paint in areas where a regular brush or roller wouldn’t.

Make sure to back roll or back brush the spray paint evenly on the deck boards.

Related: Can you roll on deck stain?

Step 5: Finishing details

Once the first paint coat has dried, apply the second one using the same tool you used for the first one. Again, let this coat sit undisturbed for the recommended time, and add a day or two more before using your deck.

After that, schedule regular maintenance practices to keep it in tip-top shape.

The best deck primer for peeling paint

The Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer is a top-notch choice for tackling peeling paint on decks. This primer has garnered a reputation for its exceptional performance and reliability. Its versatile formulation suits various deck materials like wood, concrete, and composite surfaces.

One standout feature of this primer is its excellent adhesion properties. It effortlessly bonds to both the existing paint and the deck surface, creating a strong foundation for the subsequent paint layers.

The primer’s adhesion ensures long-lasting results and helps prevent future peeling issues.

Another noteworthy aspect is the ease of application. The Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer goes on smoothly and evenly, whether using a brush, roller, or sprayer.

It dries quickly, allowing for efficient progress during the painting process. Its low odor is an added bonus, making it more comfortable to work with.

Furthermore, this primer offers great coverage, effectively concealing the underlying peeling paint and creating a uniform base for the final paint coat. It also aids in blocking stains and tannins, ensuring a clean and professional finish.

While the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer excels in many aspects, it’s important to note that proper surface preparation is still crucial for optimal results.

Thoroughly clean and sand the deck before applying the primer to ensure maximum adhesion and longevity.

Overall, the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer is reliable for addressing peeling paint on decks. Its exceptional adhesion, ease of application, and impressive coverage make it a go-to primer for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike.

Try this primer to revive your deck and achieve a durable, long-lasting finish.

Can You Paint Over Peeling Paint? 

Yes, you can paint over peeling paint. However, whether you should repaint or repair the peeling deck depends on the amount of damage.

First, scrape and lift the flaking paint using a putty knife or a wire brush. Next, scuff sand the entire surface, then wash the dust and debris off.

Prime the bare spots and paint a fresh coat to your old deck.

Read: Can you paint over high gloss paint?

How To Repaint A Deck Without Stripping

Painting over peeling paint on wood is possible because the existing paint or the damaged areas are small and won’t show through the new paint coat.

The Steps 

how to restore a peeling dekc

Step 1: Assess the failing deck paint

Determine the extent of the damaged old deck paint. Then, scrape the loose paint using the right tools: a putty knife, paint scraper, or a wire brush.

Countersink nails and loose wood sticking up. Fill any cracks with exterior deck wood filler.

Step 2: Sand

A little scuff sanding on the edges of the bare wood and the areas where paint is still intact is necessary.

Step 3: Clean the entire deck

Use a garden hose and allow it enough time to dry: a few hours or overnight depending on the humidity levels in your region.

Step 4: Prime the bare wood spots

Use the respective primer –water-based or oil-based –to the existing paint on the deck and the new one you plan to apply.

Step 5: Paint over your entire deck

Use a paint roller or sprayer to paint over a larger area in half the time. Alternatively, you can use a paintbrush if you don’t mind brush strokes.

Step 6: Let the first paint coat dry to the touch before applying the second coat.

This will ensure your paint layers stay intact for many years.

Allow the deck to sit undisturbed for two days after the last paint coat. After that, you can enjoy your newly painted deck space. 

Peeling paint on deck – 4 Causes?

Why is my deck paint peeling? You may ask. Here the four main culprits;

Poor Surface Preparation

Surface preparation for a painting involves thorough washing, sanding, priming, and, eventually, the painting itself. If you do a sloppy job at any stage or skip any of these steps, your deck paint job will come off sooner than you’d like.

Low Paint Quality

Inferior paint quality will fail as soon as it’s exposed to the elements. So if you fall for advertisements claiming any exterior house paint will work for your deck, bad news awaits you.

Poor Painting Method

The painting technique can make or destroy your deck paint. The first coat should be light and even for it to adhere to the wood properly

The paint also needs time to dry thoroughly before applying the subsequent coats.

High Moisture Content

Suppose you painted the deck while wet; the paint will flake and fall off. Alternatively, if there’s excessive exposure to external moisture, most new deck paint won’t hold up for long.

How to stop deck paint from peeling

Stop wood paint from peeling by preventing the factors that trigger the paint failure.

Start by preparing your wood religiously: Wash, sand, prime, and paint. Throughout this process, ensure there’s sufficient drying time between each step.

Stop moisture from softening and lifting your deck paint by painting bone-dry wood and eliminating the external source of dampness. For example, you can redirect garden sprinklers and repair leaking roof gutters and kitchen or bathroom pipes.

You can also trim nearby vegetation and waterproof the surface beneath your deck if you think it’s a source of moisture ruining your deck.

It also helps a ton if you choose and use a high-quality deck paint for old wood explicitly designed for deck boards. Consult your paint dealer at the hardware store or read the paint can carefully before purchasing.

Often, the manufacturer recommends the best tool to apply the paint to your deck boards. Whichever tool you choose, you can paint in between deck boards and every section that’s hard to reach.                                                                                             

When Should You Repaint A Deck?

According to the recommendation by Consumer Reports, the best time to repaint a deck is during late spring. Usually, the temperatures at this time are between 60 and 85°F, and the nights are cool.

You typically need four dry days to cater for preparation, application and finish to dry fully.

Also, repaint when your deck shows signs of failing, especially in high-traffic areas.

If the original paint no longer protects the wood beneath. Or when the paint is severely blistered and is peeling on large deck sections. You could also repaint it when you want to update the dull color of your deck.

Here’s a list of the best deck paint colors that hide dirt.

How to refinish a deck that has been painted

o refinish a deck that has been painted, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the existing paint: Use a paint stripper or power washer to strip off the old paint. Sanding may also be necessary for stubborn areas.
  2. Clean the deck: Thoroughly clean the deck to remove dirt, debris, and any remaining paint residue. A deck cleaner or a mixture of water and mild detergent can be used.
  3. Repair and replace: Inspect the deck for any damaged or rotten boards. Replace or repair them as needed to ensure a solid surface. Here is a guide on how to repair splintered wood deck that you can use.
  4. Sand the deck: Use a power sander or sandpaper to smooth the wood surface. This step helps remove any remaining paint, prepares the deck for refinishing, and promotes better adhesion.
  5. Apply a wood stain or sealer: Choose a high-quality deck stain or sealer that suits your preference. Apply it evenly using a brush, roller, or sprayer, following the manufacturer’s instructions. For detailed guidance on achieving an even stain between deck boards, refer to our comprehensive guide that provides step-by-step instructions and expert tips for this specific aspect of the staining process.
  6. Allow drying time: Give the stain or sealer sufficient time to dry completely before placing furniture or foot traffic on the deck. Depending on the product and weather conditions, this typically takes 24-48 hours.
  7. Apply additional coats (optional): If desired, apply additional coats of stain or sealer for added protection and a richer finish. Follow the recommended drying time between coats.


Can you paint over deck paint?

Yes, you can paint over deck paint. However, it is important to properly prepare the surface by cleaning, sanding, and priming if necessary. Use high-quality paint designed for outdoor use and ensure the deck paint is in good condition before applying a new coat.

Why is my wood porch paint peeling off?

Porch paint could peel off due to prolonged exposure to sunshine and moisture. These conditions expand and contract the porch wood, triggering the paint to blister and peel. Still, the cause could be poor surface preparation done before painting. As a result, the paint can’t adhere to a damp or dirty surface.

Why is deck paint peeling after one year? 

One of the reasons your deck paint keeps peeling is poor preparation –either the wood deck wasn’t properly cleaned and sanded, or the paint was applied before the wood dried completely. Another possible reason is low paint quality used or paints applied too thickly without enough drying time between each coat. 

Do I need to remove old paint before painting the deck?

You don’t need to remove old paint before painting a deck. You only need to remove old paint if it’s blistering, cracking, or peeling. Otherwise, the new layer will bubble and peel soon after. If the old paint is still in good shape, paint over it.

Is it better to paint or stain a deck? 

The debate on stain versus paint narrows down to personal preference.  Staining a deck takes less time than painting, and it enhances the natural wood grain. On the other hand, painting conceals cracks and imperfections while providing a pop of color to complement your surroundings. Yet, both deck paint and deck stain protect the wood from damage by elements. 

What kind of paint do you use on a wood deck? 

Use oil-based or water-based exterior deck paints. Before settling on any paint, ensure it’s meant to be used on flat or horizontal deck surfaces. Note that any exterior paint on your deck might lead to it blistering and flaking off the surface prematurely.

You May Also Like – Will an outdoor rug damage a wood deck?

What is the best way to paint a deck?

Start by thoroughly cleaning and sanding the deck surface to ensure a smooth finish. Next, apply a primer that enhances paint adhesion. Opt for a high-quality deck paint that is specifically formulated for outdoor use. Apply multiple thin coats of paint, allowing ample drying time between each layer. Lastly, maintain the deck regularly to extend the paint’s lifespan and keep your deck looking fresh and vibrant.

Painting a Deck over Old Paint Summary

Having explored the details of how to paint a deck with peeling paint, repainting a wooden deck couldn’t be easier!  Whether the peeling paints are severe or barely getting started, scuff sand the loose pieces off the surface, clean the sanding dust, and prime and paint a fresh coat over it. You only need two coats of paint.

If you follow our guide, you can successfully restore any peeling deck paint.

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