How to Paint a Deck with Peeling Paint? (6 Steps)

After a while, the paint on a deck will start to peel off. So, how to paint a deck with peeling paint?

To paint over a deck with peeling paint, scrape the peeling paint off, sand the deck surface with medium-grit sandpaper, and then apply primer and paint. Once the deck paint is dry, seal it with a deck sealer to increase its durability. 

If the deck is damaged, you must fix it before applying paint. To fix a damaged deck, use wood or deck filler. Also, using a sealer and waterproof mat will prevent deck paint from peeling again. 

Don’t Paint Directly Over Peeling Paint

Painting directly over peeling paint won’t fix the issue. That’s because you have fixed the cause of the problem, and the new paint will also peel off for the same reasons. 

For instance, if your deck paint is peeling due to improper prep work and you apply new paint to fix it, the new paint will also peel because you still have not prepped the deck properly. Likewise, if the paint is caused by expired paint, painting over it will affect the new paint since the expired paint is still on the deck.

Also, paint won’t stick to peeling paint properly. So, if you apply new paint over old peeling paint, the paint won’t adhere to the deck properly and will peel off. So, it’s best to remove the peeling paint from the deck and then apply a new coat of paint. 

Type of Paints To Use on Decks

The best type of paint to use on a deck surface is exterior deck paint. Exterior deck paint is designed with extra additives that help the paint last longer on outdoor decks without peeling off. You can use this paint on any type of deck, and it will stick.

You can also use exterior or oil-based paint for deck surfaces. But, the exterior or oil-based paint must be moisture, water, and scratch-resistant and have UV blockers to last long on outdoor decks. Also, you must seal the paint to increase its durability.

Interior paint is the worst type of paint to use on a deck surface. Interior paint isn’t designed with additives that make the paint durable enough for outdoor weather. Also, most interior paints are water-based, and water-based paints are removed easily from the deck.

However, you can use interior paint for indoor deck surfaces. But, you must seal the paint as it can get removed from high foot traffic. 

How To Paint A Deck With Peeling Paint?

For this guide, you’ll need these tools and supplies:

  • Paint Roller/ Spray gun/Paintbrush
  • Paint scraper (trowel or putty knife)
  • Sandpaper (80-320 grit)
  • Large nylon bags
  • Primer paint for decks
  • A pair of gloves
  • Wood putty (for repairs)
  • Exterior grade wood sealer (Spar urethane works fine)
  • A random orbit or oscillating sander
  • Mineral spirits

1. Scrape The Loose Paint

First, scrape the loose paint from the deck using a plastic paint scraper. You shouldn’t use a metal paint scraper as you can damage the deck.

Scrape only the loose paint spots and not the entire surface. While scraping, put the scraped paint into a plastic bag, so your workspace doesn’t get messy.

2. Repair The Deck

After scraping the paint, inspect the deck to see if it’s damaged. If the deck has holes, cracks, or split wood, repair them.

To repair a damaged deck:

  1. Use wood putty. 
  2. Apply the wood putty over the affected spot (crack, holes, or split wood).
  3. Wait until the wood putty dries. 
  4. Remove the excess wood putty. 

3. Sand The Deck

Before applying primer and paint, sand the deck with 80-grit sandpaper. If the deck surface is too large, use an orbital sander. Avoid using large sanders such as belt sander as it can damage the softwood of decks (if you are inexperienced). 

While sanding, use medium or low speed. After sanding with 80-grit sandpaper, move to 150-grit sandpaper and finish will ultrafine-grit sandpaper. The 80-grit sandpaper will remove imperfections from the deck surface, the 150-grit sandpaper will remove leftover peeling paint, and the ultrafine-grit will smooth the surface. 

After sanding, remove dust using a vacuum.

4. Apply Deck Primer

Apply a deck primer to improve the adhesion between the deck and paint. The primer will server as a basecoat for the deck paint to stick to.

To apply primer over a deck:

  1. Use a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer.
  2. Apply one 1 coat of primer.
  3. Once the primer coating cures, scuff it with 320-grit sandpaper. 

Note: You must use a primer designed for deck surfaces. 

5. Apply Deck Paint

Once the primer dries, apply deck paint. 

To apply paint over deck:

  1. Use paint designed for decks. 
  2. Use a paint roller, brush, or sprayer to apply the paint. A paint roller and sprayer will help you cover more deck surfaces in time. Use the paintbrush for edges and small spots.
  3. Apply 2-4 coats of deck paint.
  4. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. 
  5. Optionally, sand between coats of paint, except for the final one. 
  6. Allow the paint to cure before sealing it. 

6. Seal The Finish

Once the deck paint cures, seal it. To seal deck paint, use a sealer designed for deck surfaces. Allow the finish to cure before using or cleaning the deck surface. 

Preventing Paint From Peeling

Here are some tips to prevent peeling paint on decks:

  1. Only use deck paints – Deck paints are reinforced with additives to thrive outdoors.
  2. Prime the deck before applying paint.
  3. Seal the paint after application – Exterior grade sealers protect the paint from peeling.
  4. Use floor mats and pads for busy decks.
  5. Install a shade over your deck area to limit the effects of weather elements on the paint.
  6. Leave enough dry time between coats of deck paints.
  7. Ensure the deck is clean before applying paint.
  8. Clean and maintain the deck paint regularly.

Reasons For Deck Peeling Paint

The main reason paints peel on decks is because of improper prep work. If you apply paint on a poorly prepped deck, the adhesion (bonding) between the deck and paint will be weak, causing the paint to peel off. 

For paint to stick (and not peel), the deck must be clean, sanded, and primed before applying paint. If you skip any of these tasks, the paint won’t stick properly on the deck and will peel off. So, to avoid peeling paint on the deck, prep the deck properly before applying paint. 

There are other reasons why your paint might peel off:

1. You Used Expired Paint

Expired paint will peel off the deck surface because it lacks good adhesion qualities. 

2. You Didn’t Use Deck Paint

You must use deck paints on deck surfaces. That’s because deck paints are reinforced with additives (such as UV blockers) to make the finish resistant to harsh exterior environments. If you use regular paint on outdoor decks, the paint will peel off because it doesn’t have additives to protect it from weather elements. 

3. You Didn’t Seal The Paint

To increase the durability of the deck paint, you must seal it. A sealer will produce a glossy moisture-resistant layer over the paint and protect it from water, moisture, and damage. 

If you don’t seal the deck paint, the paint will peel off if exposed to constant water or moisture. 

4. High Foot Traffic

Paint can peel off the deck surface because of high foot traffic. This is common in commercial spaces that have decks installed outdoors. To limit the effect of foot traffic, use floor mats. 

5. Heavy Outdoor Furniture

Placing heavy outdoor furniture on your painted deck without protection will cause the deck to peel. The foot of the heavy furniture must be placed on thick pads so the paint won’t get damaged. 

Final Words

To paint a deck with peeling paint, scrape (remove) the peeling paint, sand the deck, apply primer and deck paint. To prevent peeling paint on decks, seal the paint and cover the deck with waterproof mats. 

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