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Whether you’re building a deck from scratch or sprucing up your existing one, the paint you use is an important consideration. Because your deck is horizontal, it is exposed to the elements—sunshine, rain, and snow—more than any other point on your house, even the roof. You’ll need to plan on repainting it at least every three years and when you do, you’ll want to use a quality paint or stain.
Read on for our top picks.
Best Overall: Behr Premium Advanced Deckover
Prep your deck by sanding and cleaning it, then allowing it ample time to dry before painting and you’ll be thrilled with the results of this Behr Premium Advanced Deckover Paint.
This thick paint fills cracks up to 0.25 inches (prefill them before painting) and also makes your wood splinter-proof. It comes in more than 50 colors ranging from natural redwood and cedar hues to more contemporary colors including forest green and colony blue. The acrylic resin formula is easy to clean and offers a mildew-resistant finish. The paint works on wood, composite wood, and concrete, including older stamped concrete. It's not suitable for driveways, however.
Best Budget: Kilz Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint
This highly-rated deck paint isn’t only budget-friendly, it’s user-friendly, too. It claims to go on smoothly even on previously painted surfaces, dries fast, and is virtually drip-proof.
For best results, use a 0.37 to 0.5-inch nap roller or airless sprayer. Once it’s fully dry (in less than 24 hours), the paint is resistant to scuffing, fading, cracking, and peeling even in high traffic areas. The skid-resistant paint has a mildew-resistant film and can also be used on trim, siding, and trellises. The slate gray color is the perfect shade—it’s dark enough to hide dirt (which is easy to clean off with soap and water) but not so dark it will make your outdoor space look like a battleship.
Best One-Coat Coverage: Rust-Oleum RockSolid 4 Gal. Gray Exterior 20X Deck Resurfacer
Make even heavily-worn, decades-old decks look like new with just one coat of this paint. 20 times thicker than regular paint, Rust-Oleum's RockSolid paint can cover cracks up to 0.25 inches, nail holes, and other wood defects. It works on composite wood and concrete, too—just remember to prime prior to painting to ensure smooth application.
Available in 60 different colors, this paint has a waterproof, flat anti-skid surface that’s also UV resistant. For the best results, paint your deck on a day that’s slightly overcast, not too hot, and not too cold.
Best for Old Wood: Sherwin Williams SuperDeck Exterior Deck and Dock Coating
Even decades-old decks and docks can get a refresh with this Sherwin Williams paint. Designed to smooth rough and damaged surfaces, it soaks into cracks of all shapes and sizes to make your deck look and feel like new. The water-repelling paint can be applied directly over any existing stain or paint and works on concrete, too. Because it's a high-build paint, which means you'll need at least two coats to get the job done. We recommend buying more than you think you’ll need for the best, full coverage.
Best for Pool Deck: Valspar Light Gray Satin Interior/Exterior Anti-Skid Porch and Floor Paint
When you’re painting a high-traffic area that often gets wet, aka your pool deck, you need a skid-resistant paint like this one so your friends and family won’t slip after a dip. This Valspar anti-skid paint has a textured coating that increases traction but still feels comfortable on bare feet. The weather-resistant paint can be used on wood or concrete and primed metal such as stairs or guardrails. When painting a deck, start with the highest part first so you don’t drip on your freshly painted floorboards. The 100 percent acrylic formula leaves behind a colorfast sheen that is easy to clean with soap and water.
Best with Primer: Olympic Rescue It 3 gal. Navajo Red Deck Resurfacer and Primer with Sealant
Get more life out of your older deck with Olympic's Rescue It Desk Resurfacer and Primer. This paint is self-priming in two coats, so you’ll still want to sand, wash, and fill any large cracks in your deck before getting started. It seals in any splinters, fills cracks up to 0.25 inches, and has an anti-skid finish that's fade-, mildew-, and algae-resistant. The paint also works well on wooden furniture including Adirondack chairs and picnic tables.
Note that, because of its thicker formula, this paint goes on best with a roller. Using a sprayer isn't recommended.
Best Color Selection: Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain
Looking to match your deck to your living room? Benjamin Moore's ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain is a great option. This formula can be tinted to any of the thousands of existing Benjamin Moore colors from classic sandalwood to Flamingo Orange or any other color of the rainbow. The finish is resistant to blistering peeling, staining and scuffing and protects against mildew and UV damage.
For best results, apply a second coat at least four hours after the first. It works on both new and older wood, including decks that have already been painted or stained.
Best Stain: Sikkens ProLuxe Cetol SRD RE Transparent Matte Natural Oil-Based
An oil-based stain has the advantage of penetrating deeper into the wood to better protect it from the elements. This option from Sikkens has a transparent finish that allows the natural beauty of your wood deck, railings or furniture to shine through. You’ll get gorgeous results with a single coat, though it’s very important to use a high-quality brush (such as a natural China bristle one) for the best results. Remember to paint with a back and forth motion to better keep your brush wet.
The best overall deck paint is Behr Premium Advanced Deckover (view at Home Depot). It makes your wood splinter proof, is easy to clean, and comes in 50 colors. If you prefer a budget-friendly option, KILZ Interior/Exterior Patio Latex Floor Paint (view at Amazon) is long-lasting, mildew-resistant, and user friendly.
Coverage Do you want your deck's natural finish enhanced, or would you prefer to paint it with an opaque shade? Generally, products labeled as paints will be more opaque, while stains will still show some of your wood's natural grain and texture once applied, though both products have a range of finishes, colors, and coverage levels.
Texture If you live in a rainy area, are finishing a deck around a pool or hot tub, or just need a bit of traction on your deck, check for a paint or stain with a gritty, non-slip texture. Just make sure you stir regularly while you apply it to make sure the grit doesn't settle at the bottom.
Area Not all paint gallons cover the same amount of area—it can vary depending on the coverage, texture, and when your deck was last painted. Don't forget to add in the square footage of any stairs you plan on painting as well—you'll definitely want them to match!