Paint or Stain Deck?

The Choice – To Paint or Stain a Deck

This is one of the most frequent questions that we get asked by customers, which would you recommend- paint or stain deck?

The answer to this question involves looking at a number of factors:-

  • The amount of maintenance you want to do.
  • The type of timber your deck boards are.
  • Has the deck been painted or stained before?
  • What is the condition of your decking?
  • Do you have other timber structures that are painted or stained?
  • How much grime and debris lands on your deck?
  • Is your deck surrounding the pool?
  • What colour are you thinking you want to paint your deck?
  • What sort of balustrades and railings do you have?
  • Are you looking for something unusual, unique or special?
  • And of course your personal preference.

As you can see there is a lot to take into account when deciding on whether to stain or paint your deck.  We will start with some of the easiest to answer situations.

Pre-Painted Deck

If you deck has already been painted then you have very little choice but to paint it again.  The paint seeps down into the wooden decking timbers and you would need to sand back you deck to such an extent that you would be thinning your boards.  Never mind the cost and the mess!  So unless you really, really, really want to stain a pre-painted deck we recommend that you don’t do so…

Pool Decking

If your timber deck surrounds your pool we recommend that you stain rather than paint your pool decking boards.  Paint, even non-slip paint is still more slippery when wet than stained timber boards.

Colour you Plan to Paint your Deck

If you are thinking about painting your the timber boards of your deck a light colour, white or cream or something similar you will really have to know ahead that keeping a light coloured painted deck looking good is going to be a big chore.  Scratches, spills, dust and general dirt are going to detract from the look of your light painted deck and you are going to be cleaning and touching up on a regular basis.

If you are planning to paint decking timber a dark colour (particularly black) you could be hopping from one foot to the other during the summer and will need to always wear shoes as the dark painted boards will absorb the heat from the sun.

The Type of Decking Timber You Have

Obviously if you have lovely hardwood timber (such as Jarrah or Merbau) it would be a great pity to paint these boards and lose the lovely look of the natural timber.  One of the main reasons decks are built out of hardwood is the beauty of the timber, the whorls, the grain and natural colour variations.  Having spent more having a deck built with quality hardwood, if you choose to paint the wood you are then paying only for the durability of hardwood and not for the added bonus of the great look that you should have with these more expensive decks.  However, it is as noted above, all a matter of personal preference.

Having recommended not painting hardwood decks, we do also acknowledge that treated pine decks can also look really good stained.  There are so many options of different stains that can be used on decks that make pine decks really attractive and at first glance do not even look like pine decking boards.

The Condition of Your Timber Decking

Many people ask the question, should I stain or paint my deck purely because their timber boards no longer look good stained.

If the timber does not look good because it is damaged or rotten then obviously this needs to be fixed before staining or painting as neither will protect your boards from further rot or damage.

If you have to replace boards they may not match the original decking boards either because you may use different timber or also because the new boards obviously have not weathered to the same extent.  You still have the choice in this situation of staining or painting your deck.  However if you choose to stain your deck unless you choose a dark stain and re-stain the entire deck, your new boards will not match the older existing boards – at least not for some time.

Should you however choose to paint the decking boards, then naturally you will have a uniform look immediately.

The Amount of Maintenance

Both painted and stained decks do require maintenance

If you stain your deck you are most likely going to need to re-apply the stain annually if your deck is uncovered and bi-annually if you live in a cooler climate and have a well covered deck.

In comparison though to re-painting a deck, re-staining is less labour intensive and not as expensive.

However, and it is a big however, a painted deck can last a much, much longer time between refreshing than stained decks.  This is if the job is done correctly.  It is very important that the preparation work is done very thoroughly before the paint is applied to the decking boards and that the coats of paint are allowed to thoroughly dry out between each coat.

As a rough guide (depending on the amount of wear and tear your deck gets) you can expect to get between five to ten years out of your painted deck before you need to do major refreshing/repainting.

A painted deck can be easier to keep clean (not light colours though) as with a good paint job, dirt should wash off quite easily.

Something Unique, Different and Creative

Whilst you can be creative with stains, really paint allows you many more options in terms of creating something that is totally unique and different for your deck.  The options are endless; you could stencil designs, paint a ‘rug’, paint stripes of different colours or a chess board!

How Large is Your Deck

This one is a bit tricky.  With a large deck you are going to be doing more regular maintenance work simply because of the size of the deck – if it is stained that is.  On the other hand a really large deck painted can sometimes create too large a block of colour that can be a bit overwhelming visually.

Amount of Dirt and Debris

If you are going to regularly varnish and protect your deck then having overhanging trees with the debris (leaves mixed with rain can create stains) should not be that much of a problem for you.

If you deck (like above) is painted (not white!) then you are probably going to find that there is less work required if your deck does suffer from a lot of dirt and falling leaves and debris.  A painted deck that has been done properly can be easier to keep clean than a stained deck.

Other Building Structures

If you have quality timber gates or fencing you may wish to keep the natural wood appearance of your deck to complement your the other timber features of your home.

Whilst many recommend that a timber home should keep the natural look of decking timber boards this does not in fact have to be the case.  More likely than not your timber home is painted.  Therefore why not also paint your timber decking and in a colour that complements and enhances the colour of your home.  Really this does come down to personal preference.

The same really applies with a brick home.  Having natural looking timber decking can provide a great contrast to the brick of the home brining in a more textured look and appeal.  Again however a brick home too can look really good with a painted deck.  It depends too upon the colour of your brick and whether your home is cement rendered or not.  A rendered brick home with timber features can be the best of both worlds.  Thus a rendered home with say timber decking, timber (or timber look) garage doors and fencing can have great street appeal.

Summary – Paint or Stain Deck

Below are listed what in our option are the two main deciding factors as to whether you paint or stain your deck.  We have provided the main advantage and the main disadvantage of each choice and hope that this will help you make your decision as to whether or not you should paint or stain your deck once and for all…

Pros for Painting a Deck

There is way more opportunity to be creative with your deck colour and look.  Not only are there a huge amount of choices in colour but you can also paint different designs.  You can too completely change the look of your deck by changing the colour of paint at any time or adding a pattern or design.  There is definitely a great deal more in terms of different options and appearance that paint provides for a deck.

Pros for Staining Your Deck

With a stained deck you maintain the beauty of the natural timber, the grain and Hughes and natural appeal of timber can be enhanced and enjoyed.

Con for Painting a Deck

Once you have painted a deck unless you want to go to a great deal of expense and hassle, you really will need to always have a painted deck.  Returning to the natural wood is for most not really an option after having painted the timber decking boards.

Cons for Staining Your Deck

The need to regularly re-stain a deck can be an annoying chore as it needs to be done very frequently to maintain the timber.

All We Do Is Decks

All We Do Is Decks are specialised Brisbane deck builders who design and construct decks of varying types including two-storey decks, composite decks, hardwood and treated pine decks.

paint or stain deck

Please note the information provided above is based upon our experience which is as deck builders rather than qualified professional painters thus you may wish to obtain further information from other sources to help make your decision as to whether you should paint or stain your deck.

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