The 7 Best Deck Paints of 2023

Our top pick is the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

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Deck Paints

The Spruce

Painting your deck helps protect the wood from damage caused by foot traffic, sun exposure, and inclement weather and can improve the appearance of your home. High-quality exterior paints are extremely durable and will last years,” says Natalie Ebel, the cofounder of Backdrop. She adds,  “For maximum durability, you can also apply a clear top coat.”

We researched the best deck paints on the market, evaluating products on their base, opacity, durability, texture, and sheen, as well as their ease of application and cleanup. Our top pick, the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer, is long-lasting and easy-to-apply and comes in a nice selection of colors. 

Here are the best deck paints.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Ready Seal 1-Gallon Can Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer

Ready-Seal-Exterior-Wood-Stain-Sealer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Stain and sealer in one

  • Easy to apply using a sprayer, roller, or brush

  • Creates a smooth, attractive finish

  • Doesn’t lap, streak, or run

  • Available in 10 colors

What We Don’t Like
  • May take up to two weeks to achieve its true color

  • May take a long time to fully dry

This wood stain from Ready Seal earns the top spot, thanks to its ease of application and smooth coverage. It’s available in 10 natural-looking colors, including dark walnut, golden pine, and light oak, to enhance the appearance of a wooden deck. This product can be applied using a sprayer, roller, or brush and doesn’t require any diluting or thinning before spray applications, which is a nice plus. The formula is advertised as “goof-proof,” which means it won’t leave any laps, run, or streaks. It’s also versatile enough to be applied in any temperature range. 

It’s important to note that this stain will look darker when it’s first applied. Some people who bought multiple cans reported some inconsistency with the color. To ensure color consistency, the manufacturer recommends blending multiple cans together before applying. Most users say a second coat is required; you should allow at least a 45-minute dry time between coats. It may take anywhere from 48 to 72 for the paint to fully dry—a significantly longer drying time than most other paints. You also need to wait about two weeks to get a good sense of its true color. 

Because this is a stain and sealer all-in-one, it conveniently adds color and seals the wood from moisture in a single step. One gallon of Ready Seal will cover 100 to 125 square feet, and it’s available in two sizes: a 1- or 5-gallon option. Although it’s pricier than many other options, it provides superior coverage and durability.

Price at time of publish: $41

Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 100 to 125 square feet | Colors: Burnt hickory, dark walnut, golden pine, mahogany, natural/light oak, natural cedar, pecan, redwood, light oak, and mission brown | Finish: Not listed | Transparency: Not listed

Best Budget

Kilz Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint

KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint

Walmart

What We Like
  • Covers 300 to 400 square feet

  • Resists fading, cracking, and peeling

  • Mildew-resistant finish

What We Don't Like
  • Needs six hours to dry before second coat

  • Limited color selection

Kilz Porch and Patio Floor Paint provides a durable finish that’s resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling in high-traffic areas. One gallon covers between 300 and 400 square feet, providing plenty of coverage at an affordable price point. It goes on smoothly and dries to the touch within an hour. Like most deck paint,  however, a 4- to 6-hour dry time is required between coats. For best results, you should apply it with a 0.37- to 0.5-inch nap roller or airless sprayer. This acrylic paint is versatile enough to be used on a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces, including porches, patios, basements, trim, and siding. 

Another advantage is its mildew-resistant finish, which is great for decks, because they are naturally prone to moisture damage. While the slate gray color is great at concealing dirt and footprints, we were a bit disappointed by the limited color selection: either slate gray or silver gray. Both are attractive and neutral enough for almost any setting, but we would have appreciated a wider variety.

Price at time of publish: $32

Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 200–400 square feet | Color: Gray | Finish: Smooth |  Transparency: Solid

Best for Old Wood

Cabot DeckCorrect Solid Tintable Tint Base Water-Based Acrylic Deck Stain

Cabot DeckCorrect Solid Tintable Tint Base Water-Based Acrylic Deck Stain

Lowe's

What We Like
  • Provides a non-slip surface

  • Corrects worn and weathered wood

  • Fill in cracks and fixes splinters

  • Prevents mildew

What We Don’t Like
  • Low coverage

  • May take longer to dry than expected

If you’re looking to restore an old deck, Cabot DeckCorrect is perfect for filling in cracks and fixing splinters and other small flaws. The manufacturer suggests a four- to six-hour dry time between coats, but the first coat could remain sticky for up to 24 hours. A second is necessary for smooth, uniform coverage. Since one gallon only covers up to 75 square feet, you might want to opt for the five-gallon can to ensure full coverage. 

This formula creates a waterproof, non-slip finish that effectively protects your deck from mildew and dirt. It can easily be cleaned with soap and water, and the stain doesn’t come off when scrubbed with a rag. Note that the product comes in a satin tint base. A local home-improvement store will be able to tint it with your preferred color.

Price at time of publish: $63

Size: 1- or 5-gallon | Coverage Area: 75 square feet | Color: Tint base | Finish: Satin | Transparency: Not listed

Best Color Selection

Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain

 ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain

Benjamin Moore

What We Like
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors and opacities

  • UV- and mildew-resistant

  • Long-lasting formula

  • Large coverage area

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

With thousands of shades to choose from, Benjamin Moore's ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain takes the cake when it comes to color selection. You'll also get the quality you’d expect from one of the most respected paint manufacturers in the business. With built-in UV protection, this paint will resist blistering, peeling, and stains in addition to creating a mildew-resistant coating on your deck. Made of 100% acrylic latex, it is also easy to clean with soap and water when needed.

For added convenience, this product comes in a variety of opacities and can be used to cover previously painted and stained wood. Two coats of paint are ideal for uniform coverage, and one gallon covers up to 300 or 400 square feet. Even though this paint is on the pricey side, its impressive coverage area will likely save you money in the long run.

Price at time of publish: $70

Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 300–400 square feet | Color: Varies | Finish: Not listed | Transparency: Solid

Best Stain

Thompson’s WaterSeal Transparent Wood Sealer

Thompson's WaterSeal Transparent Wood Sealer, Desert Tan, 1 Gallon

Walmart

What We Like
  • Stain and wood sealer all in one

  • Highlights natural wood grain

  • Helps prevent water and sun damage

  • Mold- and mildew-resistant

What We Don’t Like
  • Slightly watery texture

  • Four-hour dry time between coats

If you’re looking to protect your deck, yet maintain its natural wood grain, Thompson’s WaterSeal Transparent Wood Sealer is an excellent choice. With just a slight tint, this stain doesn’t add a lot of color and leaves no sheen whatsoever. However, it does make wood boards of various colors look more uniform. Although the stain is easy to apply with a brush, it is a bit watery. For a less messy application process, it would be better to use an airless spray rig, especially if you’re staining a large area. 

According to the manufacturer, one coat will provide year-round protection against the elements. If you want to apply additional coats, there is a four-hour downtime before recoating. Once the stain has been cured for 24 hours, it is resistant to mold, mildew, and moisture. It also shows no signs of fading after extensive sun exposure. This transparent formula is easy to clean off with soap and water.

Price at time of publish: $32

Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 150–400 square feet | Color: Desert tan | Finish: Smooth | Transparency: Transparent

Best for Deck Rail

Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint

Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint

Amazon

What We Like
  • Comes in 18 colors

  • Goes on smoothly and evenly

  • Durable and scrubbable finish

  • Low-VOC paint

What We Don’t Like
  • Has a bad smell when wet

  • Can’t be used on deck floors

Specifically designed to highlight woodwork and trim, this low-VOC paint from Montage Signature is an ideal choice for deck railings. It’s available in 18 colors–with plenty of grays and earth tones to choose from. There are two finish options: low sheen or semi-gloss, the latter being the better choice for deck rails, because they get a lot of wear and need to be wiped down frequently. Even with vigorous wiping, this scrubbable paint maintains its color and finish. 

Featuring a water base, the paint goes on easily and provides excellent coverage. Although it’s a low-VOC paint that doesn’t release any toxic fumes, some say it has a very unpleasant smell when wet. The good news is that the odor is bearable if you’re applying it outside, and it dissipates once it’s dry. One gallon of Montage Signature can cover up to 300 square feet. It also cleans up easily with soap and water. Please note that it will not hold up to foot traffic and should never be used on deck floors.

Price at time of publish: $30

Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 300 square feet | Color: 18 colors including dove gray, swiss coffee, and desert tan | Finish: Low-sheen or semi-gloss | Transparency: Solid

Best for Pool Deck

INSL-X Sure Step Acrylic Anti-Slip Coating Paint

Sure Step Satin Concrete Paint

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Non-slip, skid-resistant finish

  • Highly water-resistant

  • Fills and seals cracks

  • Can be used on a variety of surfaces

What We Don’t Like
  • Colors might not be accurate

  • Covers less surface area than other paints

If you own a pool or live in a humid environment, this non-slip paint from INSL-X is a great choice for a deck. To prevent slips and falls, it adds a protective grip to wooden surfaces, making it a smart choice for wet areas with lots of foot traffic. It’s highly resistant to water, even in regions with heavy rainfall, and it retains its color well over time. Another advantage of this acrylic paint is that it fills and seals cracks for a smoother finish. 

In addition to wood, this paint can be used on other outdoor surfaces, including metal and concrete. Note that it covers less surface area than most of the competition: One gallon only covers up to 120 square feet. If you have a larger deck, you may have to purchase several cans to get the job done. This paint is available in seven colors, including saddle brown, pine green, and desert sand. However, we have read some reports that the colors aren’t accurate to the pictures shown.

Price at time of publish: $53

Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 80-120 square feet | Colors: Saddle brown, pine green, desert sand, white, gray pearl, light gray, and tile red | Finish: Matte | Transparency: Solid

Final Verdict

Our best overall deck paint is Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer, because it’s easy to apply with a sprayer, roller, or brush. It creates a smooth, attractive finish and comes in 10 colors that look great on a wooden deck. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, KILZ Interior/Exterior Patio Latex Floor Paint is a long-lasting, mildew-resistant formula that’s easy to apply and clean.

What to Look for in a Deck Paint

Type of Wood

Start by considering what type of wood your deck is made from. Hardwood and softwood varieties have different needs when it comes to deck paint. Softwoods, such as pine, will readily absorb deck paint; you can choose either an acrylic or alkyd (oil) deck paint. If you have a hardwood deck made from a tropical wood like ipe, you should choose an oil-based deck stain. The alkyd formula will provide better penetration, and the transparent formula will highlight the natural beauty of the wood. 

Base 

Deck paint is either water-based or oil-based. Water-based formulas are more common and offer the advantage of being easy to clean up with soap and water. Oil-based deck paint is more commonly seen with transparent deck stains and requires mineral spirits or paint thinner for cleaning brushes, sprayers, and tools.  

You can use oil-based paint over a surface that previously has been treated with a water-based formula, but you typically cannot use water-based paint over a surface painted with oil-based paint.

Opacity 

The opacity of deck paint will determine how much of the wood grain and appearance is visible once treated. Solid deck paint is the most common option, because it better hides the effects that weather and aging have had on your deck. However, if you have new deck boards, then a transparent deck stain will allow the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. Semi-transparent deck paint is another option, best suited for decks that are only a few years old and show minimal signs of aging or splintering. 

Durability

The durability of deck paint will be put to the test by foot traffic, UV exposure, and weather conditions. Acrylic deck paints are often formulated for horizontal application, with the understanding that this means the surface will be exposed to feet, furniture, and the elements.

One of the biggest factors that will improve a deck paint’s durability is proper surface preparation before the paint is applied. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning and preparation exactly, so you can enjoy the longest-lasting results. 

Texture and Sheen 

Texture and sheen are two important aspects of deck paint finish. Deck paint can be smooth, textured, or extra-textured. Smooth is most similar to paint used for vertical surfaces, while textured and extra-textured deck paints have an additive to provide traction for walking. That is important if your deck will be exposed to rain. The painted surface can easily become slippery, and a deck paint with texture can help to prevent accidental falls. 

Sheen refers to the appearance of the deck paint’s finish. Some deck paint formulas are matte, while others offer a glossy finish. Some deck paints with a high-sheen formula will show marks easily, including footprints or paw prints. However, not everyone prefers the flat appearance of matte deck paint. According to Ebel, “Sheen tends to be more of an aesthetic preference or choice, but it is true that higher sheens often come with a bit more durability.”

FAQ
  • How do you prep a deck for painting?

    To prepare a deck for painting, first, screw down any screws that may have loosened and sand the deck. After sanding, use a deck cleaner, either a store-bought or homemade formula. The purpose of the deck cleaner is to remove accumulated dirt, debris, mildew, or algae that would prevent a smooth, long-lasting bond between the paint and boards. Once you’ve applied the deck cleaner (ideally with a garden sprayer and hose), allow time for the formula to penetrate the surface; the length of time varies by product but is usually 10 to 15 minutes. 

    The next step is to thoroughly rinse the deck. The most common method is to use a pressure washer, but be sure that you don’t use it on high pressure too close to the wood’s surface, or else you might risk damaging the boards. Once the deck has been thoroughly rinsed, allow the wood to dry completely. This step takes at least 48 hours in most cases but will vary based on temperature and weather conditions.

    The final step is to prime the deck. If you skip this step, you will hinder the durability and longevity of the deck paint. Use a quality wood primer and a brush to thoroughly coat the sides of each board and the spaces in between. You can then use a roller or sprayer to apply the primer down the length of each deck board. Allow time for the primer to dry—the manufacturer’s instructions will indicate how long of a drying period is required before you can move on to painting the deck.

  • How long does deck paint last?

    “Of course, decks are inevitably exposed to the elements and experience added wear with furniture and foot traffic on the surface,” says Ebel. Proper surface preparation will often determine the success or failure of a deck-painting job. Deck paint can last five to 10 years but might need to be repeated as often as every two or three years under harsh conditions. “The occasional touch-up, or starting with a clear top coat, can really maximize the durability and longevity of any surface,” adds Ebel.

  • What tools do you need for painting a deck?

    To paint a deck, you should have the following tools and products ready before you start:

    • Deck cleaner formula
    • Garden hose with water supply 
    • Pump sprayer
    • Primer
    • Paintbrush, sprayer, or roller with cover for application (will likely need a brush for detail work and between boards)
    • Clean five-gallon bucket or paint tray
    • Mineral spirits or paint thinner (only necessary for cleanup of oil-based paint)
    • Deck paint

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Sage McHugh, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. To select the best deck paints for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their base, opacity, durability, texture, and sheen, as well as their ease of application and cleanup. She also took hundreds of customer reviews and write-ups from third-party websites into consideration. For expert insight, Sage interviewed Natalie Ebel, cofounder of Backdrop

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Healthy Indoor Painting Practices, Consumer Product Safety Commission.