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

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

Can You Paint Directly Over It?

You shouldn’t paint directly over peeling paint as it won’t fix the issue. That’s because you haven’t fixed the cause of the problem, and the new finish will also peel off for the same reasons. 

For instance, if your deck paint is peeling due to improper prep work and you apply a new finish to fix it, the new finish will also peel because you still have not prepped the deck properly.

Also, paint won’t stick to a peeling finish properly. So, if you apply it, the new finish won’t adhere to the deck properly and will peel off. So, it’s best to remove the peeling finish, find the cause and fix it, and then re-apply a new finish. 

Type of Paints To Use:

It’s recommended to use exterior deck paint on a deck surface. This paint is designed with extra additives that help it last longer on an outdoor surface. You can use it on any type of deck, and it will stick.

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

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

You can use interior paints on outdoor surfaces, but you must seal them with a waterproof sealant.

How To Paint A Deck With Peeling Paint?

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

  • Roller, sprayer, or brush.
  • Paint scraper (trowel or putty knife)
  • Sandpaper (80-320 grit)
  • Large nylon bags
  • Primer
  • 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 scraper. You shouldn’t use a metal scraper as you can damage the deck. Scrape only the loose paint spots and not the entire surface.

2. Repair The Deck

Inspect the deck to see if it’s damaged. If it 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 Surface

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

To apply primer over a deck:

  1. Use a brush, 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 The Paint

To apply paint over deck:

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

6. Seal The Finish

Once the last coating dries, seal the finish with a waterproof sealant. Allow the sealant to dry before exposing the surface to high foot traffic or heavy furniture.

Preventing Paint From Peeling

Here are some tips to prevent paint from peeling:

  1. Only use deck paints – They are reinforced with additives to thrive outdoors.
  2. Prime the surface before applying paint.
  3. Seal the finish after application – Exterior grade sealers protect the finish from outdoor elements.
  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 finish.
  6. Leave enough dry time between coats.
  7. Ensure the deck is clean before applying paint.
  8. Clean and maintain the surface regularly.

Why Does Paint Peel Off?

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

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

There are other reasons why this happens:

1. You Didn’t Use Deck Paint

You must use deck paints on deck surfaces. That’s because they 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 finish will peel off because it doesn’t have additives to protect it from weather elements. 

2. You Didn’t Seal The Finish

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

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 a surface without protection will cause the finish to peel off. The foot of the heavy furniture must be placed on thick pads so the finish won’t get damaged. 

Final Words

In summary, to paint a deck with peeling paint, you must remove the existing finish, sand the surface, apply a coat of primer, and then apply the paint. You should also seal the finish with a waterproof sealant to help it last longer.

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