Level of Difficulty: Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
Completion Time: Week-end Project

In one weekend, revive your dreary and dirty deck or other outdoor wood structure with a new coat of paint. Whether you’re looking to enhance with a bright hue or simply update with a subtle shade, the fresh paint will add curb appeal and value to your home. The procedure is easy: remove the old paint and apply the new. Depending on the structure, though, the process can be time-consuming and tedious.

Save yourself time, energy and maybe even a few dollars by reading the tips below to help your project move along quicker. Decide on the proper paint for your project, and soon you’ll be enjoying your freshly painted deck (or other outdoor wood structure).


  • Paint brushes (large and small)
  • Belt sander
  • Broom
  • Rubber gloves

  • Sanding bloc
  • Scraper
  • Steel wool


  • Chemical or water-based paint remover
  • Electric paint striper
  • Paint

  • Paint thinner
  • Primer (if needed)
  • Sand paper

  • Make sure the structure is solid and stable, and adjust if needed.
  • Tighten any screws, anchors and nails.
  • Replace any parts that are damaged with the same type of wood.


Treated wood should be handled with precautions:

  • Wear gloves and long sleeves when handling treated wood to avoid skin contact with the treated material and to protect against splinters.
  • Wear dust mask, eye protection, gloves and long sleeves when sawing, sanding or shaping treated wood to avoid skin contact with or inhalation of sawdust, to protect against splinters and to protect eyes from flying particles. When making cross cuts, use a cut sealer as the factory-treatment rarely goes to the heartwood.

During construction:

  • Use nails, screws, bolts, connectors and other hardware resistant to corrosion: stainless steel, hot-dipped galvanized, yellow zinc or other hardware specially coated for outdoor use. Ordinary fasteners will rust, causing unsightly stains as well as weakening the structure and ultimately causing it to fail.
  • Make certain the wood is thoroughly dry before painting or staining, and follow the coating manufacturer's recommendations. Use only good quality oil or acrylic coatings on water repellent pressure treated wood.
  • Do not dispose of treated wood remnants or sawdust in compost heaps, wood chips, or mulch. Do not use it as animal bedding or litter.
  • Never burn treated wood.
To prepare the surface, scrape, sand and remove the existing paint before applying a uniform coat of primer, followed by paint.

1.1. Roughly scrape and sand the entire surface using an electric sander and 80-100 grit sandpaper to remove large particles.

1.2. Clean the surface.

1.3. Apply the remover and strip the paint with a scraper.

1.4. Complete paint removal with a heat gun (being careful not to burn the wood) or by applying an additional coat of remover.

1.5. Finish preparing the surface to be painted by sanding. We recommend using an electric sander with 100-10 grit sandpaper.

2.1. Clean the surface using a brush or a broom to eliminate any trace of remover, dust or old paint.

2.2. If your outdoor wood structure was not previously painted, you can simply clean the wood before applying your fresh coat of paint. Hardware stores often carry wood cleaners, otherwise a brush and hose should do the trick.

2.3. You could also use a power washer. If you use water, allow 24-48 hours of complete drying time before painting.

3.1. Plastic tarps work well for large structures.

3.2. Blue painters tape and paper work well to cover smaller areas, such as where a deck and house meet.

Ensure all of the surfaces are well prepared, clean and dry. Proceed with applying the primer first, followed by the paint.

4.1. Begin painting from the highest point on the structure, working your way down. For instance, paint the railing of the deck first before moving on to the deck itself. Be sure to plan your escape if you are painting a deck--start from the farthest corner from the deck's entry/exit.

4.2. Rollers work well for painting large areas, while brushes are helpful for hard-to-reach areas such as corners, railings and end caps. Always brush in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Work the paint into cracks, but do not allow excess paint to puddle. To really speed up the painting process, opt for a paint sprayer. Just be sure to cover areas that you do not want painted.

4.3. Begin with an oil-based primer. Let it dry according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

4.4. Apply at least two coats of exterior paint. If the outdoor wood structure you are painting is a deck, opt for exterior floor paint designed to withstand wear and tear.

4.5. Some paint adheres better with a light sanding between each coat. Check the manufacturers label for the best results.