Can You Paint Composite Deck or Trex? (Here’s How)

You can paint regular decks, but can you paint composite deck or trex? We tested it, and here are the results:

You can paint or stain composite decking if the deck was made from wood fibers and plastic. These are the traditional ingredients used to make composite and trex decking and they can be painted over.

However, if the composite decking has other substances in its make-up asides from wood and plastic, it will be a bit daunting to paint or stain it.

To paint over such types of composite decking, you’ll need to clean, sand, and prime the deck before applying the paint. You should also know that the paint or stain to be used on composite decking must have weather-resistant properties.

Let’s dive deeper into this topic.

Can I Change The Color Of My Composite Deck?

Can I Change The Color Of My Composite Deck

You can change the color of your composite deck. It’s a great way to add value, beauty, and protection to the composite deck. However, I wouldn’t advise you to paint over fresh or new composite decking.

You should only change the color of your composite deck if the deck is starting to look aged. This is because most modern composite decks are reinforced with chemicals that can repel paint. So your new composite decking might not accept the paint.

You can always change the color and appearance of your composite decking. Though most manufacturers will tell you that the paint on the composite decking will last forever, it doesn’t. After some years, the paint will begin to discolor and fade away due to UV exposure.

At this stage, you can change the color of the composite decking. But you should know that you’ll need to properly prep the composite deck so the new color can come out fine.

Also, you shouldn’t paint over new composite decking. New or modern composite decking usually have chemicals in the formula meant to strengthen the deck. While these chemicals do strengthen the deck, some of them also repel paint. This means it will be difficult for paint to adhere to the freshly-installed composite decking.

Speaking of paint adhesion, does paint stick well to composite decking? Let’s find out.

Does Paint Stick To Composite Decking?

Generally, paint doesn’t stick well to trex or composite decking for 3 reasons. One, composite decks are not designed to be painted over. Secondly, composite decks are usually affected by dust, sand, debris, and grease. All of which can repel paint. Third, composite decks are usually riddled with mildew and fungi.

But paint will stick to a composite deck if the deck is properly prepped. To make a paint stick, you’ll need to sand, clean, and prime the deck first.

Composite decks are not designed to be painted over. Composite decks are designed to hold up the weight, foot traffic, and be resistant to the elements. To perform these functions, most composite decks are reinforced with chemicals to improve the strength of the deck. These chemicals make it difficult to paint or stain the deck without some prep work first.

Also, composite decks are usually installed outside and around the entrance of the home. This means the deck will be walked on, objects will be placed on it, and the deck will be exposed to dust and filth. All of this will make the deck very dirty and greasy. Painting 101 teaches that paint will not stick to filth or dust. So you’ll need to do some prep work first.

Composite decks are usually made from 60-80% wood and the deck is usually installed outdoors which means that the deck (or wood) is exposed to rainfall (or moisture). When you pour water on wood continuously, the wood will begin to develop fungi and mildew which are green or dark cloudy patches on the deck. Mildew will also not let the paint stick well.

What Type Of Paint To Use On Composite Deck?

What Type Of Paint To Use On Composite Deck?

To paint composite decks, it’s generally advised to use a water-based primer first. Then, apply two coats of latex or acrylic exterior paint with a semi-gloss finish. That’s the best type of paint to use on composite decking and for good reasons too.

For starters, the latex or acrylic exterior paint is weather-resistant which means that the deck will be shielded from mildew, bacteria, moisture, dust, and UV rays which can all damage the wood.

Also, acrylic paint is very colorful which means that the paint when used on the deck will produce a vibrant and colorful finish.

Latex and acrylic exterior paints also have a low volume of paint chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which means that the wood is less likely to be etched or affected by chemicals.

Also, latex and acrylic exterior paints usually contain fungicides and other chemicals that can repel pests and microorganisms from damaging the deck.

Now, let’s check out how to paint over composite decks.

How To Paint Composite Deck (In 5 Easy Steps)?

Painting over composite decking can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools and supplies. You’ll need these:

  1. A garden hose
  2. Detergent
  3. A bottle of white vinegar
  4. A bristled brush
  5. A large drop sheet
  6. Water-based paint primer
  7. An exterior paint of your choice (for this guide, I’m using acrylic exterior paint)
  8. A spray gun
  9. Medium and fine-grit sandpaper.

Here is a 5-step guide to help you paint over composite or trex decking easily.

  1. Wash the deck
  2. Sand the deck
  3. Apply paint primer
  4. Apply the paint

Now, let’s go into detail.

1. Wash The Deck

Wash The Deck

The first step is to prepare the work area. This means removing all objects and furniture on the deck. If you have plants around or on the deck, remove them. Then put a large drop sheet around the deck.

Since paint will not stick to filth, you need to wash the deck to get rid of debris, dust, and filth on it. Mix some detergent in a bucket of water. Then use a bristled brush and soapy water to wash the deck. Ensure to scrub off stubborn stains and spots on the deck.

After washing, connect a garden hose to the tap and spray the deck with clean water. Ensure to hose down the deck as this can remove stains that you missed while scrubbing. When the deck is clean, you’ll need to leave it to dry. This will take a few days.

2. Sand The Composite Deck

Sand The Composite Deck

When the deck is dry, it can be sanded. Sanding the deck is important as it helps to remove existing paint or stain on the composite deck. Sanding also helps to remove gouges and splinters in the wood.

You should start sanding with medium-grit sandpaper. 150-grit is a good place to start. Then work your way up to fine-grit sandpaper. You can stop sanding when you get to 240-grit.

While sanding, You don’t need to apply pressure or force. This can damage the deck.

3. Apply Paint Primer

Apply Paint Primer

You’ll need two coats of paint primer on the composite deck. Ensure to use a paint primer that is compatible with the type of paint to be used.

If you want to use water-based paint like latex or acrylic paint on the deck, you should use a water-based primer. Oil-based paints and stains can also be used over a water-based primer.

4. Apply The Paint

Apply The Paint

The final step is to apply the paint. You might need to thin the paint first if the deck paint is too thick. You can apply the paint on the deck using a paintbrush, roller, or spray gun.

Composite decks are usually large so it will be difficult to paint using a paintbrush or roller. The best bet is a spray gun. Ensure to cover every part of the deck with the paint. Two coats are enough on the composite deck.

What Types of Composite Decks Can Be Painted?

Generally, composite decks that are made from natural materials can be painted or stained. This includes composite decks made from plastic, wood fibers, and the likes. Such composite decks usually have a very low level of chemicals so there isn’t any paint repellant in the deck.

Also, composite decks that are uncapped can be painted because such decks don’t have a cover that can prevent good paint adhesion.

Generally, composite decks that have a high volume of chemicals shouldn’t be painted. Also, composite decks that are capped shouldn’t be painted. Capped composite decks are designed with a built-in cover that prevents UV rays and moisture from damaging the deck. This cover can prevent proper paint adhesion.

How Long Does The Paint Last On Composite Deck?

Paints last between 1 and 10 years on composite decking. On average, most paints last 3 years on composite decking. You should know that interior paints don’t last on deck.

At best, interior paint will last between 6 months and 18 months on composite decking. This is because interior paints aren’t formulated with additives to allow the paint to thrive on an exterior surface like composite decking.

Exterior paints however can last over 5 years if applied correctly on the composite deck since the paint is weather-resistant. You should also know that moisture, heat, UV rays, and debris all affect how long the paint will last on the decking.

So if you use weather-resistant paint on the composite deck, the paint will last longer than if you use paint that has no weather resistance. Also, if you clean and maintain the deck regularly, the paint will last longer as it will be less affected by debris and filth.

How Often Should You Paint Or Stain Composite Deck?

There is no specific time frame to paint or re-paint composite decking. You should only paint or stain the composite decking when the existing finish begins to look old.

The time it takes for the existing finish to become aged depends on the type of the deck, the type of the finish, and the level of maintenance. On average, it would take about 5 years before you need to paint or repaint your composite deck.

However, here are some cases where you’ll need to paint or re-paint the composite deck:

  • When the deck is affected by mildew
  • When the finish on the deck is looking ugly
  • When the deck has blotted spots
  • When you want to renovate your home.

Can You Stain Trex Decking?

You can stain trex decking. It’s even better to stain trex decking than to paint over it. This is because trex decking is usually absorbent.

Since wood stains are designed to penetrate wood, the stain will easily be absorbed by the trex decking. This will guarantee proper paint adhesion and a smooth result.

Paints on the other hand aren’t designed to penetrate the wood. So if you apply paint over trex decking directly, the paint will be absorbed and you’ll need multiple coats to cover the trex decking.

This will ruin the finish eventually. However, you can apply a stain-blocking primer first to seal the trex decking. Then you can put paint over the trex. This way, the paint wouldn’t be absorbed.

Final Words

Overall, painting over your composite decking is a great idea. Asides from the improved beauty that the deck gets. The paint also severs as a shield against the elements. Just ensure to properly prep the deck to allow the paint to come out fine and smooth.

Also, ensure to figure out if the composite decking can be painted or stained before you paint over it.

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