best deck paint

Best Deck Paint – What Paint or Stain is Best For Your Deck

This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.

Decks are often the social hub of your home. These are entertainment areas that bring people together – for a barbeque, pool party, or to just sit under the sun. This means that you want to keep your deck looking and feeling fresh. If you want to give your deck a new look or get rid of any faded paintwork or stains, then you can spruce it up with the right tools and materials. Using the best deck paint can help you to breathe new life into your deck – something that will enhance the overall look of your home. Interested in getting your deck looking brand new again? Follow our guide below on the best deck paint for old wood, and what you can do to enhance the look of your deck.



What is Deck Paint?

Deck paint is specifically formulated for covering decks in order to provide a durable and attractive finish. When considering the best deck paint, there is actually one very important consideration first – do you want a deck paint or the best deck stain?

best deck paint for old wood


Deck Paint

Deck paint offers a convenient solution for covering up your deck to give it a completely fresh look. As this paint has been specially formulated for outdoor use, it is weather-resistant and UV protected. It is also highly durable and should last about ten years.

A benefit of using the best deck paint for old wood is that you can cover up any flaws or unsightly marks. However, the paint will also cover up woods natural beauty – something that many like to preserve. There is a wide range of color options available to customize your deck exactly how you would like it.

As this product is so strong, it can be very difficult to remove. Therefore, make sure that you are certain about which paint you use. If you start with a stain, you can always just paint over it, but the opposite process is not so easy. We will explore some of the best deck paint options further on.


Deck Stain

Using the best exterior wood stain is often preferred by homeowners, as it allows the natural beauty of the wood to still show through. Deck stains are available in clear or semi-transparent forms for those wanting to maintain the grain, color, and texture of the wood. You also get solid stains too.


Solid Deck Stains

A solid stain is closer to paint. This is a type of stain that is darker and will cover up much of the wood finish. However, it does still let parts of the natural wood come through.


Semi-Transparent Stains

The best semi transparent deck stain provides color while still highlighting the grain of the underlying wood. These stains offer weather-resistance and UV protection.


Clear Sealers

A clear sealer is a transparent coating applied over the wood to offer some form of protection. This lets the natural look of the wood really come through. Clear sealers do offer weather-resistance to a degree, but not all are UV and fungicide-resistant.

When using a deck stain, it will not last as long as the best deck paint. This means that you will need to re-stain the area every once in a while. If the wood is old and weathered, then a deck stain will still let this show through. In this case, it is best to rather paint. Another advantage of using the best exterior wood stain is that the surface is much less slippery than if it were painted.

best deck stain and sealer



What to Look Out For in the Best Deck Paint

If you have decided to go ahead with painting, then it’s time to choose the right kind of deck paint for your needs. There are a couple of different considerations here.

If the deck has already been stained or painted, then it’s a good idea to use that same product again. For example, if there is an oil-based product on the deck already, cover it with a new oil-based product. Painting an acrylic-base over an oil-base does not mix well and can cause bad results – leading you to remove the paint and start from the beginning again.


Oil-Based Deck Paint

Lots of people choose oil-based as the best deck paint thanks to its many favorable qualities. Oil-based paints effectively penetrate the wood surface and should last around two years per coat. These paints are both water and UV-resistant.

Oil-based paints are easy to apply, and often only need a single coat to achieve a great result. You can clean the paint easily. This paint also provides a smooth and even finish. The problem with using oil-based paints is that they have a high level of VOC with many harsh chemicals present. They also take longer to dry. The resins contained in oil-based paints can attract mold and mildew.


Water-Based Deck Paint

Using water-based paints is safer and more environmentally friendly. These have a lower VOC content and help to prevent mold and mildew. Many water-based paints are UV protected and have traction boosters.

Water-based paints do not penetrate the surfaces of the wood as well as oil paints do, so a couple of coats is required to avoid flaking and chipping. However, this paint dries much faster and can be sprayed on for an even and smooth finish. Just be sure to use exterior paint, as interior paint will not be able to withstand outdoor use on a deck.

best deck stain



Best Deck Paint

So, you have decided to use the best deck stain and sealer, or paint? Then it’s time to choose the right product for your needs. There are many considerations here, as the best deck paint depends heavily on the type of wood you use it over. Is the wood treated, weathered, old, texture, stained? These are all things you need to know before finding the right product.

Out of all our deck paint and deck stain reviews, we have chosen the top three products within their categories. Just make sure that these options are suitable for your specific project needs before choosing them.


Overall Best Deck Paint: KILZ Enamel Porch and Patio Floor Paint

This paint by Kilz is 100% acrylic latex, making it the ideal solution for refurbishing old decks and patios. This paint offers a durable finish while still providing an attractive appearance. It is mold and mildew resistant, and won’t crack, scuff, or fade when dry. This makes it the best deck paint to use on old wood as well as new. The paint comes in popular grey, white, and deep silver-grey color options.

KILZ Enamel Porch and Patio Floor Paint
  • A highly durable and resistant floor paint
  • An acrylic paint with a low-luster enamel surface
  • Works on all primed surfaces. Smooth and easy application
View on Amazon

This paint can be applied over a deck that is already painted and primed. Just make sure that the surface is properly cleaned before applying. This is an opaque paint, so it will cover over any stains or marks in the wood. Thanks to this paint being durable and weather-resistant, it works well over high-use decks and even outdoor furniture. This is acrylic paint, so it can be applied with an airless sprayer, roller, or brush. Just make sure that the surface is smooth when you apply the paint.

The surface area that the paint covers will vary depending on the wood. In general, you should get about 200 – 400 square feet from a single gallon. This paint also has a particularly fast drying time.


  • Fast-drying – dry within an hour
  • Scuff, fade and crack resistant
  • Can cover a large surface area
  • Has a low-gloss enamel finish
  • Weather-resistant and durable
  • A quality brand


  • Can be slippery when wet
  • The paint can peel over time
  • Each gallon contains 50 VOCs


Best Deck Stain: READY SEAL Exterior Wood Stain Sealer

This product by Ready Sela would be our best deck stain and sealer thanks to its many favorable oil-based qualities. It will prevent rot, mold, and mildew from developing under the wood. It is also long-lasting, and should only need repainting after 3 years. Reapplying is also easy, and won’t require any sanding or stripping.

READY SEAL Exterior Wood Stain Sealer
  • A stain and sealer combo for wood
  • Requires no primer or preperation
  • UV blocking and waterproofing capabilities
View on Amazon

Out of our deck stain reviews, this product is the best choice for anyone wanting to highlight the natural beauty and appeal of the wood. It will take about two weeks for the true color of the wood to come through. As this is an exterior product, it offers great UV resistance, and won’t peel, crack, or fade.

Another reason that this is the best exterior wood stain is that it meets all VOC requirements, is linseed oil-free (so won’t leave marks on your hands) and is biodegradable in water or soil. You dont need a primer when applying this stain, and it can be applied with a sprayer, roller, or brush without leaving any streaks behind.

When applying this deck stain, it should be done in a number of thin coats. There is no need to thin out the stain before using it though. Drying time depends on the wood and weather conditions, but you should wait 72 hours before use in order for it to completely cure.


  • Resistant to mold, mildew, and moisture
  • Easy to apply in various weather conditions
  • UV resistant
  • Well priced
  • Enhances the natural appeal of the wood


  • Requires a few layers for a strong finish
  • The stain slightly darkens the color of the wood
  • It takes a while to penetrate the surface of the wood


Best Value for Money: DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

This is an environmentally friendly water-based solution that offers everything you need from the best semi-transparent deck stain. It is available in a variety of natural wood stain colors and can withstand all kinds of harsh weather conditions while preventing color loss. This wood stain is UV protected thanks to its zinc-nanoparticles.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain
  • A water-based semi-transparent wood stain
  • Extremely durable, lasting quality
  • UV resistant and eco friendly
View on Amazon

Out of all the deck stain reviews, this product performs really well in terms of its durability. It is easy to apply, won’t fade, and is mold-resistant.

This is one of the best deck stain options thanks to its fast absorption into the wood. There is no film left behind after application, so no moisture will be trapped underneath the surface. This makes it a good water-resistant stain that can withstand rain and general wear and tear.

There are a number of adhesives combined with epoxy resins in this wood stain. These work together to provide a finished surface that is abrasion-resistant, and quick drying. This is our best semi transparent deck stain choice due to the way it enhances the natural appearance of wood. This product works well for many uses – including fencing and outdoor furniture.


  • An efficient stain – a little goes a long way
  • Resistant to mold and mildew
  • Offers good UV protection
  • Highly adhesive
  • Deep wood penetration
  • Easy to apply
  • Completely VOC compliant
  • Long-lasting


  • Not the most durable deck stain
  • Limited color range



How to Use Deck Paint

If you want to increase the value of your home and enhance the appearance of your deck, then using the best deck paint will make a big impact. We have outlined a few key steps below to help you with the painting process.

best deck paint for old wood



  • First, choose between using the best deck paint or stain
  • Then choose between oil-based or water-based products
  • Decide on either covering up the wood or bringing out the natural wood grain. This should depend on the quality and appearance of the wood
  • If covering the wood with paint, you will need to pick out a suitable color
  • If you are using a stain to preserve the aesthetic of the wood, decide on a dark, semi-transparent, or clear stain
  • The surface of the deck will need preparation. Depending on the product used and condition of the wood, this might have to involve sanding down, scraping, or even power washing to remove any existing marks and dirt
  • Any damaged boards will need repairing and any cracks must be filled in
  • Use a stain remover to get rid of any water or rust marks
  • The wood must be fully dried before you coat it. This should take 48 hours for best results


Applying the Deck Paint/Stain

  • Only apply the coating in the right weather conditions. Do not start painting if there is rain predicted, as this will ruin the finish before it dries
  • If possible, try not to paint under direct sunlight
  • If there are areas you dont want to paint on, like walls, then cover these off with masking tape
  • You can also use plastic sheeting to protect certain areas or furniture
  • First, apply the coating in hard to reach areas with a brush
  • Then use a roller or sprayer to add the first two coats.
  • Leave the coated deck overnight to dry completely
  • It is best to stay off the freshly painted deck for 48 hours to ensure the finish has fully dried and is safe to use

best exterior wood stain



Frequently Asked Questions


Should You Use Water-Based or Oil-Based Paint?

Using oil-based or water-based paint depends on your specific project and needs. Water-based paint is best to use under direct sunlight thanks to its UV resistance and a protective coating. Oil-based paint is ideal for decks in humid or damp conditions as it is more mold and mildew resistant.


Are Coverage Rates Reliable?

Cover rates supplied by the manufacturer are generally pretty reliable. This does, however, depend on the kind of wood that you use, as different woods can be very porous.


How Harmful are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds pose a certain health risk. They can cause environmental damage and are present in all oil-based deck paints.


What Deck Paint is Best to Use on Busy Surfaces?

Decks with a lot of traffic should use a high-quality water-based stain, as oil-based stains will fade faster. Water-based paints can fade and chip quite easily though. Make sure to use a product that is specially formulated for intense use.


Is it Best to Use Deck Stain or Deck Paint?

Choosing between the two depends on your personal preference. Deck stain allows the natural appearance of the wood grain to come through, while deck paint covers up everything on the wood. Your choice should also depend on the quality and appearance of the underlying wood.


Does Deck Paint or Deck Stain Last Longer?

This depends on the weather, foot traffic, wood, care, and type of paint/stain used. However, deck paint will generally last longer.


Do You Need a Primer Before Applying Deck Paint?

Different paint brands have different instructions here. Some do require a primer and others don’t. It’s best to check the manufacturer’s instructions on this.


The best deck paint or stain can completely transform your space. It can be used to breathe new life into your deck, enhance the look of the wood, or completely change the deck’s color and finish. Follow the comprehensive guide above and you will be sure to get great results when painting your deck!


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *