We get a lot of enquiries from customers asking what they need to do to their deck in order for it to be ready to paint or treat with their choice of finish so we thought we’d give some guidance as it’s not a one solution fits all sort of question! The preparation you need to do to your decking very much depends on the state it’s currently in and what has been done to it before. We have separated this guide into sections relating to decks in a range of conditions – hopefully these will cover all possibilities!
Preparing a brand new deck for painting
New wood surfaces usually have a hard shiny surface called mill glaze which unfortunately prevents finishings from penetrating the wood and can affect their performance substantially. As such, we would always suggest treating your new wood with Seasonite, our new wood protection, which allows the wood to take in and let out moisture in a controlled manner to avoid the splitting and warping that new wood can be prone to. We would then suggest leaving your deck for 6 months to a year before treating with your chosen finish – to prepare it at this point you would follow the directions for untreated weathered wood.
However, if you are anxious to have your finish applied sooner rather than later we would suggest using Aquanett to strip as much of the mill glaze as possible. This stripping gel is easy to apply as it’s a gel and can be simply rinsed with water. After stripping you would need to neutralise the deck with Net-Trol wood cleaner and colour restorer. This is simply brushed on with a stiff brush, left to work and then rinsed with water. Be sure to allow your wood a good 2 or 3 drying days before applying a finish. You could then apply a high quality finish such as Solid Colour Stain or Deks Olje D1 and still expect good results.
Preparing an untreated deck for painting
If your deck is not new but has never been treated before then the surface preparation is pretty simple. There will be a lot of built up dirt and grime on the surface which will have at least started to turn the surface grey. This needs to be removed before a coating is applied as otherwise the finish will not be able to penetrate. Also if you have chosen a clear finish then you want your lovely wood colour back not a dirty grey!
To clean your deck and restore it’s new wood colour simply use Owatrol’s Net-Trol wood cleaner. It is scrubbed into the wood with a roller or stiff brush and then left to work for at least 15 minutes. The Net-Trol must then be rinsed off the deck whilst continuing to scrub the surface to remove the grit and grease. For more information about how to do this you can check out our video demonstration on the product page for Net-Trol. Next allow 2-3 days for the surface to dry and you are ready to apply your finish!
Preparing a previously oiled deck for painting
If your deck has previously been treated with a wood oil you will first need to remove any remaining oil using our wood oil remover. Aquanett is an easy to apply gel and should be applied in a thick layer to the surface of your deck – be sure to get it into the grooves. Leave this application for no more than 5 minutes and then apply a second lot when the ‘wet look’ of the first has disappeared. Now leave this for 15-20 minutes and then scrub the surface with a stiff brush whilst rinsing with the highest powered water you have available. Using warm water will help this process but using cold is also fine. You can now continue with your surface preparation by following the instructions as for an untreated deck.
Preparing a previously painted, stained or varnished deck for painting
Unfortunately all previous coatings will need to be removed before applying a new finish – but fortunately this is not as difficult as it seems and does not involve hours of laborious sanding! To remove previous coatings simply strip them using Dilunett gel wood stripper which can strip up to 8 layers of paint in just one application. It is solvent free and it’s gel consistency means it’s great even for those intricate areas of ballustrade many people have around their decks.
First apply a thick layer of Dilunett to the area to be stripped – with a deck be sure to get it into the grooves. Not leave it to work – this will take different amounts of time depending on the previous coatings. To work out if it’s done simple begin to scrub a small area and see if the coatings are coming away. When it’s ready rinse the deck with water from the highest pressure source you have available whilst scrubbing to help remove the coating.
You should then continue with your surface preparation by following the instructions for untreated decks as all wood surfaces should be neutralised with Net-Trol after stripping.
What if my deck has mildew?
If your deck has mildew then you should treat it before applying a finish. To do this you can scrub it with a 50:50 solution of bleach and water (be careful of surrounding plants and shrubbery!) Once you’ve scrubbed the solution into the surface, leave it for approximately 10-15 minutes before rinsing and then allow it to dry thoroughly before continuing with your surface preparation or finish.
What if I don’t know what my deck has been treated with?
If you are unsure how your deck has been treated in the past, then it is safest to follow the instructions for a previously coated deck as this covers all bases. It is much better to over-prepare at the beginning than to blindly apply a finish only to find in 12 months time that you’re got to start from scratch because it hasn’t penetrated and is now peeling or flaking!
Well now your deck is ready for painting you have many options for finishes and it’s entirely your choice. Below are some of our Owatrol recommendations but the choice is of course yours!
- For a matt opaque finish use our brand new Decking Paint for a paint designed specifically for decking or our Solid Colour Stain for a finish available in 52 different shades – both with a 5 year guarantee against peeling or flaking on horizontal surfaces (15 years for vertical)
- Choose Textrol for a long-lasting oil finish which protects from within and enhances the natural look of the wood – available in 6 different wood colours
- Try Aquadecks for a water-based finish available in 3 different shades
- Choose Deks Olje D1 for a top class clear matt oil finish which really accentuates the natural beauty of the wood
We hope this post on how to prepare your deck for paint helpful. If you have any other advice or top tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!