How to Repaint a Deck With Peeling Paint

Your deck is typically one of your favorite spaces for entertaining or relaxing, which is why it’s so frustrating if your existing deck paint starts peeling. Peeling paint is highly unattractive, and it’ll typically get worse over time. As a result, once you spot the issue, your top priority may be figuring out how to repaint a deck with peeling paint.

Repainting a deck with peeling paint is a multi-step process. You need to clean the deck, remove the loose paint, and do a bit more preparation. After that, it’s best to prime first. Then, add at least two coats of paint, and you might seal the paint to assist with longevity.

While there are quite a few steps you’ll need to take along the way, the process itself isn’t particularly complex. If you want to learn precisely how to repaint a deck with peeling paint, here’s what you need to know.

How to Repaint Deck With Peeling Paint

Why Is My Deck Paint Peeling?


Moisture in the deck boards can effectively push the paint away from the decking, increasing the odds of peeling. This issue can arise if the deck boards weren’t properly dried before painting initially and if there are unpainted sides. With the latter, the boards can absorb moisture due to the weather, humidity level, or even nearby sprinklers, which can cause the paint to peel over time.

As a result, ensuring the decking is fully dry is essential. Additionally, taking steps to prevent the introduction of moisture is a must.

Poor Preparation

Poor preparation means that the surface of the deck boards can have issues that impact paint adhesion. For example, dirt and grime affect the paint’s ability to bond correctly, increasing the odds of peeling. Similarly, not removing all of the peeling paint can prevent proper adhesion, accelerating future peeling.

With a properly prepared surface, the primer and paint will stick to the decking correctly, and the paint typically lasts longer.

Low-Quality Paint

Some paints offer better adhesion and durability than others. If the paint on a deck is low-quality, it may not adhere correctly and could wear away faster than if a higher-quality paint was used instead.

Choosing the wrong type of paint can also cause issues. It’s typically best to use an exterior paint designed for walkable surfaces, such as decks, porches, and patios, as they often offer better durability.

A Primer Wasn’t Applied

Primers help prepare a surface and lead to better paint adhesion. As a result, skipping the primer can cause the deck paint to peel faster than you would hope.

Similarly, using the wrong primer is an issue. Ideally, you want a high-quality bonding primer designed for wood and high-traffic, walkable surfaces. Anything else may not have the same lifespan.

Sun Exposure

Sun exposure can break down the pigment in paint, leading to fading. Additionally, UV light alters the molecules in paint, which can harm its integrity, increasing the odds of peeling.

High temperatures can also reduce paint adhesion during application. Since that’s the case, applying new primer and paint on more temperate days is critical.

Age, Deck Furniture, and Foot Traffic

Paint on a deck isn’t going to last forever. As it ages, its structural integrity reduces. Plus, long-term exposure to the elements functionally breaks down the paint, which can lead to peeling.

Additionally, moving deck furniture across a painted deck does wear away at the paint, ultimately leading to peeling. Walking over the surface repeatedly has the same effect and can cause the paint to start peeling.

Inadequate Drying Time

If the deck paint doesn’t have enough time to dry before it is used, it can cause adhesion issues. As a result, peeling will happen far faster than it would with the proper drying time.

The drying time required to avoid this issue may vary depending on the paint type and brand. However, it’s critical to note that the drying time between coats is typically longer than with walls, as you have to walk across the paint to add a new coat. Patience is critical, as moving forward too fast negatively impacts adhesion.

Can You Paint Over Peeling Deck Paint?

While you can technically paint over peeling deck paint, it isn’t a wise idea. Not addressing the existing peeling can lead to adhesion issues with the new paint. Then, the fresh deck paint will typically start peeling faster.

The issue is that the new paint won’t necessarily go beneath the peeled-up areas on the old paint. That means there are areas where no paint bonds to the deck surface, functionally leaving voids. Any disturbance to those spots can cause the new paint to tear away further, resulting in more peeling.

How to Repaint a Deck with Peeling Paint

How to Repaint Deck

1. Gather Tools and Put on PPE

Generally, it’s best to gather the tools you’ll need to ensure you have them all before you start. A hose, paint scraper, sander, paintbrushes, and tarps are all essential. You may also want a paint sprayer and pressure washer to speed things along.

When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), safety glasses, gloves, and a breathing mask are all smart to have on before you begin. Choosing the correct paint for your deck is also essential. Generally, it’s best to select an exterior paint explicitly designed for decking, opting for one made by a brand known for quality.

2. Prepare, Clean, and Dry the Deck

Before addressing the paint, you want to prepare and clean the deck. Remove all patio furniture and other items from the deck area. Next, sweep the deck to get rid of surface dirt and debris.

After that, it’s typically wise to rinse off your deck. Using a pressure washer with a brush attachment can help make this part simpler. If you use cleaners, you’ll need to rinse thoroughly before moving on, as any remaining residue can harm paint adhesion.

Once the cleaning is done, let the deck air dry. Finally, place tarps below the deck or over nearby plants. That ensures paint won’t end up where you don’t intend.

3. Remove Loose Paint

Generally, you have a few options for removing loose paint. Sometimes, a pressure washer will do the trick, forcing water under the peeling spots and causing them to break off. You can also use a sander or a stiff-bristled brush to address peeling manually.

If peeling is pervasive, you may want to strip off all the paint. Chemical strippers are highly effective, but they do involve harsh chemicals. Read the instructions and follow them precisely for the best result.

After you remove the peeling paint, sweep up any debris. Paint chips left on the surface can harm adhesion when you apply new paint, so you must remove them before moving on.

4. Sand the Surface

How To Sand Wood Deck

After you deal with the peeling spots, it’s time to sand. Generally, it’s recommended to sand off all of the existing paint to get the best results. However, if the remaining paint is adhering correctly, you can limit the paint removal to just the flaking, cracking, or peeling spots and then sand over the entire deck surface using 80 to 150-grit sandpaper to smooth everything out.

If you’re wondering, “Should you sand or strip a painted deck?” it’s critical to note that even if you use a paint stripper, you’ll still want to sand. The paint stripper will remove the paint, but it doesn’t effectively address the condition of the surface of the deck boards. As a result, sanding remains necessary.

After sanding, you’ll also want to clean the deck surface again. That ensures you get rid of all the dust before moving on to the next step.

5. Fill Gaps with Wood Filler

Taking the time to fill any gaps with wood filler allows you to achieve the best possible starting surface. Look for holes or significant divots in the deck boards, and then fill them by following the instructions on your chosen wood filler.

6. Secure Loose Nails or Screws

Another step it’s wise to take before doing any painting is securing loose nails or screws. By ensuring they’re correctly in place, you improve the safety of your deck. Not only are various pieces connected correctly, but it reduces the odds that anyone will harm themselves on one that’s sticking up.

Plus, securing loose nails and screws leads to the flattest possible surface. As a result, the final look of your deck after its painted is typically better.

7. Apply Primer

trim priming tools and materials

Primer helps make sure that you have a smooth surface that’s ideal for paint adhesion. Plus, primers can have protective qualities, ensuring the underlying wood remains in the best possible condition.

Choose an exterior primer that can bond to wood and existing paint. When in doubt, a bonding primer is the best choice. Take a moment to check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times and the number of required coats.

Use a foam brush to apply primer between the deck boards. Then, you can tackle the other surfaces with a paintbrush, foam roller, or paint sprayer, depending on your preference.

8. Apply Deck Paint

What Is Deck Paint

After the primer is dry enough, you can start painting. You’ll essentially use the same application process as you did for primer.

Typically, using a paint sprayer for the surfaces is the preferred approach. You’ll get a light, even coat much faster than most alternatives. However, rollers and brushes can still do the trick.

9. Allow First Coat to Dry

With paint, you’ll usually need at least two coats. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the number of coats and drying time between each one.

10. Add a Second Coat

Once the first coat is sufficiently dry, use the same application approach for the second coat. Walk carefully when adding another coat, too, as the first coat may be reasonably dry but not fully cured.

If you need additional coats, let the second one dry in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. Then, repeat the application process.

11. Let the Paint Dry Completely

Once you’ve added the last coat, ensure the paint has time to dry completely before using the deck or putting items back onto the deck. Check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the time, but don’t be surprised if the recommendation is at least 24 hours.

Can You Pressure Wash Paint Off Decking?


Can You Pressure Wash Paint Off Decking

Generally, you can use a pressure washer to remove loose paint from a deck. However, the pressure washer may be ineffective if the paint isn’t loose. As a result, you might need to use an alternative method – such as sanding or a paint stripper – to get all of the paint off your deck.

Best Primer for Peeling Paint on a Deck

ZINSSER 1 qt 260925 White, Peel Stop Triple Thick Ponding PrimerWhen choosing a primer for a deck, you want to select a high-quality exterior primer, preferably one designed specifically for decking or similar high-traffic wood surfaces. Going with a bonding primer is often a wise choice, as they’re potentially more durable than some alternatives.

If you’re not removing the original paint before you repaint, you can also look for a primer explicitly designed to go over peeling paint. Zinsser Peel Stop Triple Thick Ponding Primer is one example of such a product.

However, you still want to address any peeling paint before using any primer, including those designed to stop peeling. The primer won’t necessarily cause peeled-up paint to re-bond with your decking, so failing to remove it could still increase your odds of future peeling.

What Deck Paint Doesn’t Peel?

Technically, all deck paint can peel if the surface it’s correctly prepared, it’s incorrectly applied, or it wears down due to time, wear and tear, and exposure to the elements. However, some deck paint can have a longer lifespan than others.

When selecting paint, go with an exterior paint designed for high-traffic walking surfaces, including decks, porches, and patios. Additionally, make sure it’s compatible with wood and your chosen primer.

It’s also wise to stick with brands known for their quality. Low-quality deck paint – even if it says it’s designed for high-traffic walking surfaces – won’t last as long as high-quality alternatives. While it can be an investment, the longer lifespan makes it worthwhile.

Should You Seal a Deck After Painting?

While sealing a deck after painting isn’t technically necessary, it’s often a wise choice. Sealing gives your deck an additional protective layer, which can help keep the paint in better shape for longer.

Selecting a sealer designed for high-traffic, painted walking surfaces is usually wise. Those will bond correctly, ensuring the top coat lasts and doesn’t start peeling.

As with painting, the deck needs to be completely dry before you seal it and free of dirt and debris. In most cases, it’s best to wait for the deck paint to fully cure before sealing, so check the paint manufacturer’s timeline to determine how long that takes.

You can also review any instructions from the deck sealer manufacturer. Often, they’ll have their own guidance about surface preparation, so check the instructions for more information about the ideal time to seal your painted deck.

How to Stop Deck Paint from Peeling in the Future

In most cases, ensuring the deck is appropriately prepared and the new paint is applied correctly is critical to prevent peeling. Similarly, choosing the suitable exterior primer and paint is essential, as low-quality versions or ones not designed for high traffic, walkable surfaces won’t stand the test of time.

Adding a deck sealer can reduce the odds of peeling in the future. However, proper preparation and application are similarly necessary. Otherwise, the sealer can start peeling, and it may take up some paint.

Beyond that, proper ongoing maintenance is the key to longevity. Clean the deck regularly to tackle any dirt or grime accumulation that could harm the surface. Check your decking for damage, and repair any issues quickly.

Sometimes, you may also need to reseal the deck to help maintain the painted surface. Check the deck sealer manufacturer’s instructions regarding recommended upkeep and resealing timelines, and follow them to ensure that your deck paint lasts as long as possible.


Repainting a deck with peeling paint can restore the look of your deck, all while protecting the underlying boards from damage. Take the time to prepare the surface correctly, use high-quality primer and paint for a longer lifespan, and commit to regular maintenance.

Did you learn everything you wanted to find out about how to repaint a deck with peeling paint? If so, let us know in the comments below. Also, if you know someone trying to deal with peeling deck paint, please share the article.

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