May 10, 2021

Can You Paint Composite Decking | The Clear Guide To It

Can You Paint Composite Decking?

Yes, you can paint composite decking. After years of hard use, wood decks start to warp, crack, and splinter. You have to have them replaced. Composite decking, a combination of plastic and wood, is the next logical choice. But can you paint composite decking? The short answer is yes. While composite decking doesn’t respond to any old finishes and wood, it does respond to some traditional wood finishes.

Many people wonder if you can paint composite decking. They see the decks and fences in their neighbor’s and friends’ homes and wonder if they can paint their composite decking. The answer is yes, and no. You can paint composite decking, but the process is not as simple as it is with wood. This is because composite decking is not one of the materials that oil-based paints were formulated to stick to.

In this pose, we will cover:

  • Decking
  • Stains
  • Which to use?
  • Waterproofing
  • How to do it?
  • How to clean composite decking
  • How to paint composite decking
  • Removing old paint from composite decking
  • What paint should I use?
  • What tools should I use?

Decking

The material used to make composite decking can impact how the composite decking will react to certain finishes, first at the manufacturer’s description of the material that makes up your deck. If they do not give you an exact description, it is possible that your composite decking is a proprietary blend of materials used by that company. This is common because companies use different combinations of plastic and wood fibers.

Stains

Wood stains are a perfect match for wood. They hide any minor imperfections in the wood while making the surface look and feel like natural wood. But guess what? They only go so deep. If you want anything more than an instant coat of a stain, you’ll need to follow up with another coat 2-4 days later. This is because the stain needs time to soak into the composite decking’s texture or pores.

Which to use?

While it is true that you can use paint and stains on composite decking, the results are often not as nice as you would like them to be. The next question is if I want the best results, which should I use?

Remember that stains and paints have to work their way into the pores of the wood. With composite decking, this is much easier said than done. Composite decks do not have any pores, so traditional finishing products will not get into the decking material to give you a good finish.

Waterproofing

The first thing you need to decide is you will go with traditional oil-based paint or water-based paint? Generally speaking, oil-based paints are better at resisting water and moisture damage than their water-based counterparts. If you live in a mostly dry area, the extra moisture resistance may not be as important. However, if you live in an area with lots of rain, snow, and other forms of precipitation (or your new deck will be adjacent to your hot tub), oil-based paints will provide better protection.

How to do it?

Whether you are painting or staining composite decking, you will need to follow a few simple guidelines.

The first thing to do before you paint composite decking is to clean the area thoroughly. This will help your finished product look nice while protecting it from damage. Composite decks do not absorb stains very easily. The cleaner and drier the deck is before application. The better your finished product will look.

The second thing you need to decide when painting composite decking is what type of paint to use. There are literally hundreds of different types of paints, stains, and sealers. Do a little research on the best option for your composite decking.

Some composite decking manufacturers actually recommend using a specific type of paint. Your deck needs to be treated with the same care as wood because it is made from the same materials.

How to clean composite decking

One of the most important steps before staining or painting composite decking is cleaning. While it is true that you can clean your composite decking with a good power wash, there are other options available as well. Since you want your finished product to be as perfect as possible, take the time to thoroughly clean your composite decking before proceeding with the staining or painting process.

Do not use any harsh cleaners on your composite decking. This includes bleach, vinegar, and any other cleaning agent that could potentially damage your deck.

How to paint composite decking

Once you’ve taken the time to ensure your composite deck looks its best, start painting. It is important to realize that the product you use will need a primer base for the topcoat to adhere properly. This is because there is no “grain” on composite decks like there would be with wood.

Removing old paint from composite decking

When working with composite decking, you will notice that any old paint or sealer can be hard to remove. This is because composite decking actually bonds to the paint during the application process. If you are planning on painting your composite decking and an old layer of paint on the surface, it may be necessary to take a little extra time to ensure you get it all off before applying a new coat.

What paint should I use?

Components of most decking, such as the deck surface and railing, are manufactured with a colored polymer. It gives the composite decking its appearance. While this decorative finish looks great, it doesn’t always work so well on the structural components that make up your composite deck.

To see great results you should consider purchasing paint made for laminated deck surfaces.

What tools should I use?

You will notice that different materials require different equipment to be properly repaired and maintained. There are a few tools that you may want to keep handy when painting or staining your composite deck.

Painting gun

For many years, people have used a spray gun to coat laminated decks with paint. Although this does offer the best option for quick and easy application, it can leave the surface looking dull after multiple coats instead of having the “shiny” finish desired.

Roller

A roller can be an effective tool for applying your first coat of paint to the deck surface. Rollers are available in several sizes and are ideal for smooth surfaces such as decking. The finish will not be as smooth as that produced by a spray gun, but it does offer the benefit of applying multiple coats without needing clean equipment in-between applications.

Stain

Another option that does not involve the use of a spray gun is to use a stain. As you may know, stains are used to seal composite decking and protect it from various weather conditions.

Although most people prefer to choose a clear coat of paint for their deck, some people like the look of stained or pebbled finishes.

Conclusion

There are several reasons why you would want to paint or stain your composite deck. Whether you’re painting your deck to change its appearance or looking for a way to prevent damage due to the elements, there are numerous benefits available for both do-it-yourselfers and professionals alike.

Doing it yourself means that you can choose the right look for your composite deck, whether you prefer a shiny fabric finish or something more natural.

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