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What’s the Best Time to Repaint a Wood Deck?

Are you wondering when your wooden deck should get that beautiful new finish?

Here in Minnesota, we experience some of the most brutal weather conditions in America. I don’t need to drone on and on about the toll the weather takes on a wooden deck, but there are a couple things that deck owners should know about painting a wood deck. In this article, we wanted to address some specific questions regarding preparation, painting, and the ideal time to paint a deck.


When should I paint my wood deck

When Should You Get Your Deck Painted?

We’ve found that the springtime presents the best opportunity to get your deck finished so that you can use it all summer and fall. To paint a deck,you do need to ensure that you have the proper temperature between 50-85 Fahrenheit. On many spring days in Minnesota, we’re able to see temperatures in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

However, do remember that it’s also important that the wood be dry and repaired before it’s painted.

when should i repaint my wood deckDry Decks

For a paint job that lasts the longest and looks the best, you’ll want to make sure that the deck is painted during a relatively dry period.

Over time, moisture will cause the paint to crack, chip, and flake away, so you may need to wait to get the best results.


Here’s an important tip: get your deck repaired before you paint it.  Nothing is worse than a child getting a sliver, or an injury, because there was a nail sticking out through the wood planks.

To start inspecting your deck, look for a number of problems such as popped nails, and rotting wood. Pay special attention to where the deck meets the ground and house. If you can penetrate a post or joist, it’s time for a major renovation – don’t paint over it.

Decks without proper spacers and flashing can allow more moisture to rot bands and joists.

It might be a good idea to replace nails with galvanized ring-shanked screws because they won’t pop out – which can cause a nasty little injury to the bare feet of grandchildren or youngsters.  If you have to replace, make sure that you replace them all so the deck looks nice.

Should You Sand Your Wood Deck Before Painting or Staining?

Using some 80-grit, coarse sandpaper with a vibrating sanding machine can help you throughout the painting process quite a bit as well. By doing this, you will smooth out the wood as well as create a new surface to coat and seal. Not every deck needs to be sanded, but eventually worn wood needs this resurfacing effort.

Cleaning the Deck Surface

Decks should be cleaned every year to help wash away mildew and other damaging elements.  You might be able to use something like Thompson’s Deck Wash or GE Weathermate.  You’ll want to use a stiff bristle brush, and do it after you pressure wash the deck. The sun-damaged wood fibers and stains that can’t be scrubbed off are often best dispatched by a pressure washer. You’ll want to make sure the wood fibers are damp when you apply the cleaning solution, and then you’ll want to rinse it thoroughly.

Decks should be cleaned every year to help wash away mildew and other damaging elements.

Cleaner Advice

Remember that you’re trying to accomplish two things with your deck cleaning: removing dirt and stains, while killing mildew that will rot the wood.

Sodium Hypochlorite, which is essentially chlorine bleach, is effective at removing mildew, but it doesn’t remove stains.  Many people will mix it with an ammonia-free detergent so that they get the one-two punch.

Some people will mix their own by:

  • Using a Quart of Sodium Hypochlorite Solution (Bleach)
  • ⅓ Cup Powdered Laundry Detergent
  • Mixing the Two Together in 3 Quarts of Warm Water

This is a DIY cleaner we’ve heard of people using. (Whatever you do, don’t use detergent with ammonia – bleach and ammonia = poisonous gas!)

After the wood deck is clean and repaired, you’ll be ready to get it painted!

Deck Stain Transparency

As you do some research, you’ll discover that there are four different levels of deck stain transparencies.

A – Transparent stains that are nearly pigment-free. These stains will lose their color and fade annually, creating annual maintenance requirements. The advantage of these transparent deck stains is that they allow the wood grain to show through.

B – Semi-transparent stains that will darken the wood and deliver a couple of years of quality coverage.

C – Semi-solid deck stains that are opaque and last a bit longer yet.

D – Solid deck stains that provide a litany of options, hues, and colors in order to hide defects, marking and other discoloration. The more pigment that’s found in the stain, the more you’ll benefit from additional coverage and protection from UV rays.

Oil or Water Based?

Trying to decide between an oil based and water based stain? Here’s what you should know.

Oil stains will soak deeper into wood and require much less hassle before and after staining. The disadvantage to the oil based stain is that you’ll start to dabble in toxic solvents to clean up, and it’s not as environmentally friendly.

Oil stains will soak deeper into wood and require much less hassle before and after staining.

Mistakes DIY Deck Painters Make

Remember to follow the directions on your stain or paint accurately. More is not always better, and each product has specific directions for proper application amounts.

Don’t paint when it’s too cold or too hot.  When it’s too cold, the paint won’t apply smoothly and might not adhere to the wood.  If you paint when it’s too hot, it will dry too quickly and clumping or brush marks may show up.

Make sure it’s clean! We covered this before – don’t paint a dirty deck and think about both removing stains and killing mildew before you start to paint.

Make sure it’s repaired. Decks can be hazardous if they’re not kept in good repair.  Splinters, popped nails, rotting boards, and even structural failure are possible. Take time to inspect the deck’s wood and pay attention to what’s happening.

Clean your deck every year!

When’s the Best Time to Paint?

When Should I Repaint my Wood Deck?

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