As the years pass by, the sun shines on your life. Its bright rays cast their light upon your yard, your home and all your possessions. The ultra-violet warmth shows your neighbors your kingdom, a realm worth bragging about.
But as this light gives you its embrace, it also unleashes its wrath upon all it touches. These rays fade all things. And as they do this, your custom composite deck often takes the brunt of it. And this discoloration can really make your house look like the homes Mr. Popper (from Mr. Popper’s Penguins) painted: one wall one color, the other wall a different one. But for you, the house is one shade with the deck another.
So, if you don’t want your kingdom looking like a printer that ran out of cyan, you’d better make sure you’re staining it, especially if that pest of a neighbor, Ron, has his deck looking fresh. You can’t let him have the better yard.
But, you protest, my deck is made of composite material—not 100% wood! We’re here to tell you that you can still freshen up your composite deck. Just make sure that you follow the guidelines below to make sure that it turns out right.
Before you start, you’ll need a small list of tools.
- A pressure washer to clean it off
- A soft brush, also for cleaning
- Vinegar and baking soda to clean off any mold or mildew
- 240-grit sandpaper
- Painting supplies like a roller, a brush, a sprayer, or whatever you prefer
- The paint or stain you want to use
Painting your composite deck
Once you’ve accumulated all the tools you need, it’s then time for the fun part. First, you need to move or cover everything on the porch. If you have plants, furniture, grills or toys, either cover them with a plastic drop cloth or a tarp, or just remove them altogether.
Then, after everything is gone, clean it. For the basic things like dirt and leaves, you could likely just sweep them off. But if you’ve got some of the stickier stuff like mold, mildew or mud it’ll be easier with a pressure washer. Just put some soap on first and don’t use too high of a PSI or you could ruin the deck. You could also use a soft brush to scrub it all away. Another good way to get rid of mold and mildew is by using two parts vinegar and one part water. Sprinkle baking soda on the infected areas, then rinse it thoroughly with the mixture. Make sure you let everything dry before doing anything with paint or stain.
To get a smoother coating, using sandpaper is a good idea. 240-grit is a good choice because it helps smooth the wood, but still leaves things open enough that everything can soak in. When sanding the porch, sand along the grain. If there is any old paint left, make sure you get that off with the paper. Once everything has been sanded, clean the deck with water one more time and let it dry.
Once everything is clean and clear, it’s time to apply the primer. Since you probably know how to pour and roll paint, we won’t go into those details; however, if you want to use a brush because you like that stroked look, make sure you back-brush too, so everything is even. But an even more important thing is to paint any vertical surfaces of your deck, like the railing, first. While doing that, avoid letting anything drip onto the lower, horizontal parts. After that, feel free to start applying to everything else. Just make sure to let it dry before letting people walk on it.
After letting the primer dry, feel free to paint it. Painting has very similar steps to priming, but drying times do vary, so check the packaging to see how long it will take. Remember it will probably need multiple coats of paint, too.
Staining your composite deck
Staining a deck has very similar instructions to painting one. However, the main reason you would want to stain something is if you want to keep the grain structure visible and beautiful.
Also, a lot of stains don’t need primers, especially if you do want that grain to pop.
How to clear mistakes
If you made a mistake with the paint or primer, it shouldn’t be too hard to clear it off. You can use the same concoction you use for cleaning up mold and mildew: vinegar, water, baking soda. But if it’s really tough to get up, you can use paint stripper and abrasive pads, or scrapers. Just be sure not to gouge the porch.
If you feel your deck is too far gone for a DIY fix, feel free to contact our pros at SRI Decks. With 27 years in the Colorado custom deck building industry, we know how to keep your custom composite deck looking good through the ages.