8 Steps to Take Before Painting or Staining Decks

calander Dec 26 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

Coating your deck with the proper paint or stain is a crucial way to protect its surfaces from environmental threats, enhance its appearance, and prolong its lifespan. Before running into this project headfirst, though, you’ll want to make some necessary preparations. Failing to prepare your deck for a fresh coating can lead to a number of problems that can land you back at square one or set you back further. With that in mind, here are eight steps to take before painting or staining your deck.

How to Prepare for Deck Staining

1. Choose the Right Product for Your Needs

For better or worse, there is a seemingly endless expanse of coating options for decks of all kinds. If you enter this arena blind, you’ll likely get overwhelmed by all the brands and buzzwords before you. Do yourself a favor, then, and determine which features matter to you and which type of coating is best suited for your deck. You might want to invest in a waterproof deck stain or a product with additional UV protection. Perhaps you prefer deck paint over stain for its wider range of color options. In a previous post, we went over how to find the best paint or stain for your deck based on the type of climate it’s regularly exposed to -- water-based deck stains are great for rainy and humid environments and oil-based stains are better for warmer, drier climes. You should also keep in mind the deck material itself, as this can have implications on the deck stain or paint you choose.

All of these factors are worth taking into consideration before you move forward with your project so you can remain confident in your approach.

2. Remove Furniture, Decor, and Other Moveable Features

Once you know which product(s) you wish to purchase, you can begin to prepare the deck area itself for what’s to come. Though it may come as no surprise, the first step here is to completely clear away any moveable features from your deck, including furniture, decor, appliances, lights (i.e. wrapped lights, removable rail lights, etc.), and so on. Do your best to not scratch or otherwise damage your deck’s surfaces as you move these objects.

3. Sweep Away Dust, Dirt, and Debris

Now that your deck is unencumbered, it’s time to begin the cleaning process. You might feel tempted to spray it down with water, but that step comes just a touch later. For now, break out the broom along with some dusters and rags to remove dust, dirt, and other dry debris on the surface. You might be shocked to see just how much dirt has accumulated since the last time you swept, even if it’s only been a matter of months.

4. If Necessary, Remove Old Paint or Stain

This preparation step is conditional on whether your deck was previously painted or stained and if said coating is peeling away from the surface. If the previous deck paint or stain is still secure, you might be fine leaving it as is and applying your new coating on top of it. When in doubt, though, it’s a good idea to remove as much of the old coating as possible to make way for the new one. A deck stain/paint stripper will usually do the trick, removing varnishes, solid and semi-transparent stains, water sealers, oil and latex coatings, and helping to clear away any stains from mold and mildew. If you decide to go this route, carefully read the product’s instructions to avoid damaging your deck and achieve the best outcomes.

5. Thoroughly Clean the Deck

Whether or not you end up stripping away the previous paint or stain, the next step is to clean your deck using water and the proper cleaning solution. This will wash away any residue leftover from the removal process and ensure that any remaining dirt and debris is cleared away. You might mop and scrub your deck manually and rinse it with a garden hose, though this can take a while. If you wish to be more efficient, consider power washing your deck -- just be careful, as using the wrong power setting or nozzle, or standing too close can end up damaging your wooden deck. Experts recommend an output of 1200 to 1400 PSI with a 45-degree tip while standing about 8 to 12 inches from the surface and moving with the wood grain. If you lack the proper equipment or expertise, though, hire professional pressure washing services for this step or use a less intensive method. After you’ve cleaned your deck, let it dry for a full 24 hours or longer.

6. Sand Down Surfaces

Your dried deck is almost ready for deck paint and stain, but not quite. Before you get there, you’ll want to get a sanding tool handy and smooth out any areas that need it, including any new wood and remaining residue that wasn’t cleared away via stripping and power washing. You might need to spend hours sanding your deck or just a matter of minutes depending on how many areas require attention.

7. Repair Cracks and Holes

Now, give your deck a close inspection and note any cracks, splits, holes, or other forms of damage that need attention. The older the wood, the more imperfections you’re likely to find. Any minor problems can usually be patched up with wood filler. If you notice deeper issues, though, such as warped boards, water damage, widespread rot, etc., you may need to replace portions of your deck entirely. Whatever the case, make sure you address any and all of these concerns before moving on, as simply painting or staining over these issues will only prolong the problem.

8. Time to Prime

Once your deck is clean, bare, smooth, and fixed up, the coating process can finally begin. Whether you opted for paint or stain, though, make sure you start with a coat of primer. Doing so will afford additional protection against thermal shock, moisture, impact, UV rays, pests, and more. Additionally, priming the surface will aid in the adhesion of your stain or paint and facilitate smoother, more even coverage overall.

Is Your Staining or Painting Project On Deck?

The preliminary steps required to paint or stain a deck aren’t all that different from any other paint job. Still, no one would blame you for being overwhelmed by just how much prep work is involved in order to achieve the best results. There’s no shame in hiring professional deck staining services to handle any and all of this work for you. At the very least, the deck coating experts at Nash Painting are happy to give you more tips for protecting and enhancing your wooden deck when the time comes. We’ve served hundreds of homeowners and business owners in Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!