How to Paint a Deck with Peeling Paint? (5 Steps)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

To paint a deck with peeling paint, remove the peeling paint, repair the deck surface, sand the surface, apply deck primer, and apply the paint.

You can’t paint over deck peeling paint directly without removing the paint or fixing the causing issue.

The main reasons deck paint starts to peel include improper surface prep work, you didn’t seal the paint finish, and high foot traffic.

Can You Paint Directly Over a Deck Peeling Paint?

You can’t paint directly over a deck peeling paint as it won’t fix the issue, causes the new paint to peel off too, and the new paint doesn’t adhere properly.

The same issues (or problems) that made the existing paint peel off will make the new paint peel off too. For instance, if the deck paint is peeling because of improper surface prep work, the new paint coating will peel off for the same reasons.

You must remove the peeling paint, find the issues and fix them, and then apply a new paint finish.

Why Does Deck Paint Peel Off?

The reasons deck paint peels off include the following.

  1. Improper Surface Prep Work.
  2. You Didn’t Seal the Paint Finish.
  3. High Foot Traffic.
  4. Heavy Outdoor Furniture.
  5. You Used the Wrong Paint Type.

1. Improper Surface Prep Work

Deck paint peels off if you don’t prep the surface properly before applying it. Clean and sand the deck surface properly to remove dust, dirt, or debris that can prevent proper paint adhesion.

If you don’t clean or sand the deck surface, the surface dust and dirt prevent the paint coating from penetrating and adhering properly to the surface, creating a weak finish that can peel off.

2. You Didn’t Seal the Paint Finish

Paint finishes peel off from outdoor surfaces if you don’t apply a sealer coating over them. Unsealed paint finishes aren’t durable enough and get removed if exposed to weather elements, such as rainfall.

A sealer coating produces a glossy moisture-resistant layer (or barrier) over the paint and protects it from moisture, water, scratches, and weather elements.

3. High Foot Traffic

A paint finish peels off if exposed to high foot traffic for extended periods of time. This is common in commercial spaces that have bare outdoor decks. Use floor mats to limit the foot traffic effect.

4. Heavy Outdoor Furniture

A paint finish can peel off if you place heavy outdoor furniture over it. To prevent paint finish damage, use thick pads under the furniture legs.

5. You Used Regular Paint

Regular paint peels off from outdoor deck surfaces as it isn’t formulated with protective additives.

For outdoor deck surfaces, apply deck paints as they are formulated with extra additives, such as UV-blockers or moisture resistance, that help the paint finish last longer.

How To Paint A Deck With Peeling Paint?

To paint a deck with peeling paint, do the following things.

  1. Remove the Peeling Paint.
  2. Repair the Deck Surface.
  3. Sand the Surface.
  4. Apply Deck Primer.
  5. Apply the Paint.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • Roller, sprayer, or brush.
  • Paint scraper (trowel or putty knife).
  • Sandpaper.
  • Large nylon bags.
  • Wood putty (for repairs).
  • Exterior grade wood sealer.
  • Random Orbital Sander.
  • Mineral spirits.

1. Remove the Peeling Paint

Remove the peeling paint from the deck surfaces with a solvent-based paint remover. The solvent-based paint remover penetrates the paint finish, dissolves the binder, and liquefies the coating, making it easier to scrape it off.

To remove deck peeling paint, do the following things.

  1. Damp a rag with solvent-based paint remover (Mineral Spirits, Acetone, Turpentine).
  2. Use the dampened rag to wipe the deck surface.
  3. Wait around 20 minutes.
  4. Use a scraper or scrubbing brush to remove the paint.
  5. Use warm soapy water to remove the solvent-based paint remover residue.
  6. Allow the deck to dry.

2. Repair the Deck Surface

Repair the deck surface if it has holes, cracks, splits, or is damaged. If you don’t repair or fix these surface imperfections, the paint finish won’t be even or smooth.

To repair the deck surface, do the following things.

  1. Apply wood filler over the affected spots.
  2. Wait until the wood filler dries.
  3. Remove the excess wood filler.
  4. Sand the affected spots with fine-grit sandpaper to even them out.

3. Sand the Surface

Sand the deck surface with medium-grit sandpaper (100-grit) to remove surface imperfections and bumps, and create a rough surface to enhance paint penetration and adhesion.

For large deck surfaces use a power sander, while for small surfaces you can manually sand.

Ensure to clean the surface and remove dust after sanding.

4. Apply Deck Primer

Apply one (1) deck primer coat to enhance the paint penetration and adhesion and cover the surface imperfections. The deck primer is specially made for outdoor deck surfaces.

5. Apply Paint

Apply 2-3 paint coats over the deck surface with a roller, brush, or sprayer. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one.

Seal the deck paint finish with an exterior sealer to protect it from moisture, water, scratches, and weather elements.

How To Prevent Deck Paint From Peeling?

To prevent deck paint from peeling, do the following things.

  1. Use deck paints only as they are formulated with extra additives that make them resistant to weather elements.
  2. Seal the paint finish with an exterior deck sealer.
  3. Use floor mats or pads over deck surfaces.
  4. Install a shade over the deck surface to limit the weather elements effects.
  5. Allow enough paint dry time between coats.
  6. Prep the deck surface properly before painting.
  7. Clean and maintain the deck surface regularly.

Which Paint Types Can You Use Over Deck Surfaces?

You can use exterior deck paints over deck surfaces. These paints are designed with extra additives, such as UV blockers or moisture-resistant, that help them protect the deck surface better and last longer.

You can use exterior oil-based paint over deck surfaces, but the paint must be water-resistant and UV-resistant to last longer outdoors.

Don’t use interior or water-based paints for outdoor deck surfaces as the paint isn’t formulated with protective additives and won’t protect the underlying surface.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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