How to paint decking – the six step method for perfectly painted spring decking

Gardeners' World offer advice on the 'best way' to clean decking

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Decking is a practical yet inviting addition to any garden, and it can look even more impressive with a fresh coat of paint. Doing the job yourself is very easy to do, and the warm spring weather provides the perfect conditions to give it a go. This simple method requires just a few key tools and can be done over a sunny April weekend, but where should you begin?

How to paint decking

Clear and clean the area

A clean canvas is essential to achieve a high-quality finish while painting your decking.

Start by removing all furniture and plant pots and giving the wooden slats a deep clean.

Use a hard-bristle brush to give the decking a good sweep and move on to washing the area.

Fill one large bucket with warm water and a drop of mild dish soap.

Use a clean brush to apply the liquid and scrub the wood before rinsing it off.

Leave the area to dry completely.

Gather your tools

Before painting your decking, it is critical that you choose a good quality paint and gather the essential tools for the job.
To begin, you will need:

  • Paint – a built-in primer formula is preferred
  • A paint roller with an extension pole
  • At least one paintbrush
  • Tape

Do a patch test

Dry paint shades can look very different to their pot colour, so it’s important to do a small patch test on the decking before painting the entire surface.

Paint a few boards and leave it to dry completely before settling on a colour.

Roll the paint onto the boards

Once you’re happy with the colour, it’s time to dip your roller into the paint and get to work.

Roll the boards in the same direction as the grooves of the wood.

You may find it easier if you pour out a little of the paint as you go along rather than constantly dipping the roller in the can.

This is just a rough first coat, so focus on covering the area with the paint rather than fine-tuning the cracks and crevices of the decking.

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Go in with a brush

Rollers are the easiest way to cover a large surface in a short time, but they can leave textured marks and an uneven finish.

For seamless results, go in with a paintbrush to apply a second coat of paint to the decking slats.

You should focus on small sections at a time in order to cover the area in paint before it dries.

Split your time into slats and focus on finishing one at a time before moving on to the next.

If you struggle with squatting or being hunched over for too long, try taping the paintbrush to a roller extension for an easier application.

Fill in the gaps

Once the roller and brush coats are on, it’s time to focus on fine-tuning the look of the decking.

Use a smaller paintbrush to fill in crevices and gaps on each section of the decking.

This will take a bit of time, but it is worth the extra effort for impressive results.

When to avoid painting your decking

A warm, sunny weekend is the best time to undertake some DIY painting, but when should it be avoided?

If your decking is very old

This depends on the condition of your decking, but as a general rule of thumb, old decking won’t take well to fresh paint.

The boards can quickly become chipped and look untidy if the decking is dated and worn, so it might be a wasted venture on particularly old decking boards.

Your deck is newly built

A freshly built decking is also a no-go for painting as the boards will trap moisture and cause the colour to peel away.

Allow your deck to weather for at least a few months before adding a coat of paint.

Your deck is close to the ground

Low-set decking is prone to moisture damage, which can cause wood rot and peeling paint, so it’s best to stick to stain if you’re looking for a quick refresh.

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