Best Deck Paint for Your Money [2021 Review]

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​If you’re planning to give your best deck boards a fresh coat of paint or put the first coat on your new deck, you’ve come to the right place. Not all deck paints and stains are the same and it’s easy to become overwhelmed when making initial decisions while painting your deck.

There are so many questions to answer. What type of paint is best? How slippery should it be? Do I choose a paint or stain?

In this guide, we’ll go over all the information you need to know when choosing the best deck paints or stain for your home’s wooden deck boards. We’ll even go into the primary difference between deck paints and stains so you can decide which one you like better for your chosen aesthetic.

Our Best Deck Paint Reviews

Below are our top choices for the best deck paints and stain to use on your deck. Each is chosen for a specific need, such as best deck paints on a budget or best deck paints for anti-slip concerns. 

Best Overall
ReadySeal 525-5
Best for the Money
Montage Signature Eco-Friendly Paint
Best Cheap Pick
Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
Ready Seal 525 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood,...
Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly...
Minwax 70014444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain,...
Acrylic Paint
5 gallons
5 gallons
1 quart
Best Overall
ReadySeal 525-5
Ready Seal 525 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood,...
5 gallons
Best for the Money
Montage Signature Eco-Friendly Paint
Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly...
Acrylic Paint
5 gallons
Best Cheap Pick
Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
Minwax 70014444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain,...
1 quart

Best Deck Paint and Stain Overall: ReadySeal 525 5-Gallon Pail Wood Stain and Sealer

Ready Seal 525 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood,...

In terms of a good overall stain choice, you can’t get much better than ​the ReadySeal 525 5-Gallon Pail Wood Stain and Sealer. It doesn’t need any primer to get started so you can purchase the stain and start applying right away. Applying the stain is easy as well; you can use a sprayer, brush or roller over the wood surface of your deck and see the same great results.

For these reasons, it’s an excellent beginner stain as well. Those painting their first deck would do well to use this stain since the opportunity for messing up is very low. There’s no wet line application required and the stain will blend with the wood by itself once applied, and no need for you to thin the stain or mix it beforehand. 

Just open the can and simply spread it across your deck, step back and enjoy the effect. It takes about 14 days for the true color to come out into the wood, which is a little long, but given the low effort required to apply it, it’s not much of a flaw.

Keep in mind that the stain will be at its darkest color when it is first applied, so if it doesn’t initially look like you imagined be patient and wait until it’s finishing soaking into the wood.

Drying time is between 48 and 72 hours depending on the moisture in the air.

It’s also a relatively sturdy stain that can be applied in any temperature. It won’t start to crack under extreme sunlight. This makes it an ideal stain for decks that are going to get a lot of sunshine during the day.

The stain comes in eight different colors, most of which match up perfectly with common wood types such as cedar, oak, and walnut.

The benefits of this stain don’t stop there. It doesn’t have any linseed oil and it won’t stain your hands, although you should still take care to cover any plants or grass before spreading it across your deck. The stain is also biodegradable, so you won’t be polluting your backyard as you apply it. 

Overall, it’s one of the most versatile and easy-to-apply stains on the market. Beginners and experts alike can take advantage of its simple formula and effective color. It is a bit pricey when compared to many cheaper deck paints, but if you’re looking for the best overall, it’ll be well worth the cost.

Key Features

  • 8 colors to choose from
  • ​Needs no primer
  • ​Takes 14 days for true color to appear
  • Blends with wood by itself


  • ​Stain type
  • 5 gallons
Ready Seal 525 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood,...
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It reaches its true color in...
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
  • Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps, or streaks.
  • Requires no wet-line application, the product will blend itself and can be applied in any...

Best Deck Paint and Stain for the Money: Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint

Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly...

This Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint​ is one of the best you can get in terms of sheer value for money. This is due to its large capacity (5 gallons) and the whopping 20 different colors that it comes in. This paint is one of the best you can choose if you aren’t sure what color you like or if you need multiple colors of paint for a particularly complicated deck. 

Once applied, the paint is very smooth and feels uniform all the way across your deck. To accomplish this, make sure that you brush the paint layer smoothly as it dries. This ensures that the sealant is applied correctly.

If done properly, this paint can defend against moisture, mold, and mildew thanks to its tight seal and excellent durability. Wood decks in climates that often have a lot of moisture in the air could benefit from having a shield such as this one. 

Since it’s water-based, this paint is also quite durable. You won’t have to worry about applying this paint and watching it rub off as the rainy season rolls around. It can also withstand a lot of direct exposure to the sun no matter what color you choose.

You can choose between two different finishes for the paint. There is both a low sheen finish available in all 20 colors and a semi-gloss finish available in certain white shades and a coffee shade. This allows you to customize your deck and match it more perfectly with the rest of your house or your desired aesthetic.

The paint is made from recycled things already, and it’s eco-friendly. That means it’s one of the most environmentally conscious deck paints you can purchase. By supporting this manufacturer, you’ll be reducing waste and saving the environment at the same time.

As a final bonus, you get access to a 10-year warranty through Montage if you find the paint unsatisfied. That’s phenomenal value for money for one of the best deck paint that’s already unlikely to rub off or crack easily. 

Key Features

  • ​20 available colors
  • ​Versatile for all kinds of surfaces
  • ​Pollutant-free


  • ​5 gallons
  • ​Water-based
Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly...
  • EXTREMELY VERSATILE - Montage Signature is the #1 choice for all of your professional painting needs...
  • SUPERIOR COVERAGE & PROTECTION - All of our specialty finishes let you brush smoothly & evenly while...
  • ECO FRIENDLY - We're committed to the highest quality environmentally-friendly & pollutant-free...
  • 10 YEAR WARRANTY - We can't wait to add you to our long list of loyal customers turning to Montage...

Best Cheap Deck Paint and Stain: Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain

Minwax 70014444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain,...

This ​Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain is another easy-to-apply a wood stain that comes in even more color varieties than our overall top choice. The downside is that it comes in a much smaller container but given its affordable overall asking price it’s still an excellent deal.

In fact, it’s perfect for adding a finishing stain touch to any wooden deck, particularly since you won’t need to use as much stain as you would paint for the same purpose. This stain sinks deeper into the wood and highlights the grains naturally included with the deck texture.

It’s one of the best states for bringing out the character and history of a wooden deck and is ideal for decks that have a lot of natural physical anomalies like knots and tangles.

The stain is also easy to apply with any normal paintbrush or staining brush. You can also use a roller to accomplish the same effect. Make sure that the surface of the wood you’re staining is stable since it takes several hours for the state to sink into the wood and finalize its color. 

You can extend the use of the stain to wooden surfaces beyond your deck, as well. Treehouses or backyard fences can both benefit from using the state to bring out more character and make them appear more interesting.

Since it’s easy to apply, you should feel confident about being able to get all of your staining done over the course of an afternoon.

We’d recommend using this stain for everything from your deck to any wooden furniture in your home. It should give off any undue smell or stench as it’s being applied, so feel free to break this into the house or garage without the use of a respirator.

One downside, though, is that it’s not necessarily biodegradable or environmentally friendly. Be sure to take care when applying it outside to cover up any plants or the backyard ground to stop the stain from being absorbed by the soil.

Key Features

  • ​26 colors to choose from
  • ​Penetrates to highlight the grain
  • ​Easy to apply


  • ​1 quart
  • ​Stain type
Minwax 70014444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain,...
  • Available in 28 beautiful colors.
  • Can be used to add beauty to any bare or stripped wood surface.
  • It is ideal for staining unfinished wood furniture, cabinets, wood door, trim, molding and hardwood...
  • Penetrates deep into wood fibers to highlight the grain

Best Heavy Duty Deck Paint and Stain: KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint

KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex...

​The KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint ​is one of the most durable on the market. It can withstand frequent foot traffic and all sorts of inclement weather and still come out on the other side looking fantastic and appearing uniform. It’s one of the best deck paint for decks that are going to be traversed frequently by dirty shoes or exposed to the elements every day.

Once it’s been properly applied, you’ll get a low luster enamel surface that has been specifically formulated to endure for many years. Although it takes a few coatings initially, this wood deck paint will require you to do a second coat every few months or years. You’ll simply enjoy excellent results year after year.

It’s resistant to scuffing, fading, cracking and peeling. Even consistent foot traffic doesn’t cause the wood deck paint to peel away from the wood and weaken.

Despite all this resistance, it can still let water vapor permeate somewhat to keep wood from drying out prematurely. At the same time, it’ll stop too much water from sinking into the wood and allowing the growth of mold and mildew.

Essentially, it’s an ideal wood deck paint for any sort of climate, sunny or rainy, hot or cold.

When applying this paint, you should use a nap roller cover or a nylon polyester brush. Both of these tools will have the best results and you’ll end up with paint that is spread evenly and finished properly. You can also use an airless sprayer if you have that tool available. 

Once applied, the paint only takes one hour to dry enough to be touched. This makes a phenomenal choice if you have kids that might accidentally step in the paint shortly after application.

You do need to apply a couple of extra layers to ensure that the sealing is finished and the paint is fully applied to the wood, but there’s no denying that the low dry time is a nice plus.

Wait for about 72 hours before allowing everyone to walk across it and you should be all set. You can choose between two different shades of gray, which does limit its aesthetic opportunities somewhat.

You can also use this paint for materials other than wood. With the right primer, it can be used on masonry or metal and you can see the same great results.

Overall, we recommend this for people who need it deck paint that will stand the test of time and who aren’t particularly concerned with getting a super “woody” color to match that of their natural deck shade.

Key Features

  • ​2 colors to choose from
  • ​Super durable
  • ​Dries quickly


  • ​Acrylic type
  • ​1 gallon
KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex...
  • A good porch and patio floor paint is highly durable, easy to clean and resistant to scuffing,...
  • This acrylic paint offers a low-lustre enamel surface that is formulated to endure on deck, porch,...
  • Appropriate for all previously primed or painted surfaces including wood and masonry. It also can be...
  • KILZ enamel floor paint delivers a low-lustre finish that applies smoothly and evenly surfaces in...

Best Non-Slip Deck Paint and Stain: RTG Deck, Porch, Patio Anti-Slip Paint​

RTG Deck, Porch, & Patio Anti-Slip Paint (Quart,...

For those of you looking for a deck that won’t cause undue slipping, look no further. ​The RTG Deck, Porch, Patio Anti-Slip Paint​ is a water-based polyurethane formula that has been specifically designed to provide a textured surface once it’s dry. This textured surface makes it extremely difficult for any shoe or foot to slip, even if it’s going fast.

This feature alone makes it one of the best deck paints if you’re going to have kids running across it frequently, particularly if they play around water. But the potential applications extend far beyond just your deck.

You can use this paint on stairs or the entrances to doors to prevent people from slipping and injuring themselves. You can also use this in your garage for further safety concerns.

The paint has a low odor so it’s not too bad when applying indoors or in the garage, but it’s definitely best applied outside. It takes one to two coats to fully settle on to the wood or another surface, so you need to set aside enough time to let the paint dry in after the second coat for maximum effect. The drying time is relatively quick (under a few hours), so total paint time is likely about a day’s worth of work.

You can apply this paint with a brush or standard roller depending on your preference. 

Once it’s finally dried, this paint truly shows off how effective it is. It’s very durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic and all types of harsh weather. The formula has also been specifically curated to resist UV radiation, which is the type emitted by the sun.

In this way, wet or dry weather won’t harm the paint and you shouldn’t need to apply it again anytime soon.

It’s also eco-friendly and doesn’t have toxic chemicals that can poison your backyard. While it’s still a smart idea to cover up any plants prior to applying any sort of paint to your deck, you don’t need to worry about accidentally spilling some into your soil and ruining all of your grass.

There are four colors to choose from, and they each have a slightly different texture. The sand color naturally presents a sandy finish to the surface on which it’s dried. The other colors, white, clear, and amber, all have a neutral texture that still helps to reduce instances of slipping.

No matter which color you choose, the paint’s finish is not abrasive and won’t hurt anyone if they rub their hands or feet on the surface. This protects both your deck furniture and your bare feet.

Altogether, this is an ideal paint if your primary concern is people injuring themselves when running across the deck. You might also consider this paint integrates frequently in your climate since a slippery deck is as much a safety hazard as it is a place to hang out.

Key Features

  • ​4 colors
  • Generates textured surface
  • Easy to apply
  • ​​Eco-friendly


  • ​Quart
  • ​Water-based formula
RTG Deck, Porch, & Patio Anti-Slip Paint (Quart,...
  • Fast-drying, textured paint provides an attractive finish & secure footing on exterior surfaces that...
  • Easy to apply by brush or roller (1/4"-3/8" foam or nap roller cover for surfaces with a smoother...
  • Durable coating withstands heavy foot traffic and harsh weather. UV-stable formula resists fading.
  • Eco-friendly, low-odor, low-VOC, water-based polyurethane formula can be applied to properly...

Paint vs. Stain: What’s the Difference?

While some folks might consider these two to be completely different, the truth is that they are more alike than they are apart. Let’s break it down.

Deck paint covers wood and often forms a glossy or matte appearance. This is because it forms a secondary layer over the wood, covering any knots, scratches or impurities. Over time, as deck paint wears off, these impurities may return and provide a means to give the wood a weathered look, but initially, things will look relatively uniform when compared to a stain.

A stain, on the other hand, soaks into the wood and changes its color without forming as much of an extra surface. This means that the natural impurities and character of the wood is better preserved with a stain as opposed to paint.

However, both paint and stain help wood protect itself from inclement weather and allow water vapor to permeate. This lets the wood breathe and prevents it from drying out or cracking too much.

Overall, the biggest difference between the two is in their aesthetics. If you have a wooden deck that you love the physical character of, use a stain. It will preserve some of the unique physical qualities inherent in the wood pieces. On the other hand, if you want your deck to be as smooth and uniform as possible, use paint.

Bright brown deck with a white bench

Best Deck Paint/Stain Features and Considerations

When buying the best deck paint or stain for your home, there are some factors you should keep in mind. Thinking about these aspects will help you choose the best deck paint or stain initially, rather than having to go through several stages of trial and error. 

Most of these aspects are relevant for deck paint in particular since it forms a higher layer over the wood, rather than stains, which sink into the wood.

Paint Type

Of course, the type of deck paint you select is easily the most important factor of them all. This is because the type of deck paint you choose directly impacts its other aspects, such as its weather resistance, feel, slipperiness, and look. The type of deck paint can best be thought of like the template for the whole product.

We’ll look at the following paint types:

  • ​Oil
  • ​Alkyd
  • Acrylic
  • ​Rubber


Oil deck paint is usually made from both oil and certain mineral additives. These additives are usually composed of liquid and small mineral chunks. In order to prevent the mineral chunks from settling, you’ll need to stir the paint before each time you use it. This applies both for the initial coating and any recoating that happens afterward.

Oil paint usually takes a really long time to dry. Certain varieties can take up to two days to become safe for walking across. However, this extensive settling period allows for excellent bonding with a base coat of paint like a primer.

This translates into a long-lasting paint that isn’t likely to be scraped up or worn down easily over time. Oil paint can be a great choice if your deck is going to be traversed frequently. 

However, oil paint does have one other downside in that it diminishes quickly when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays over a long period of time. Outdoor decks, therefore, will only look good with oil paint for about 4-5 years.

Once it starts to diminish, the oil paint will deteriorate and decompose. This is usually accompanied by a bad smell. Overall, use oil paint if your deck isn’t going to be exposed to the sun frequently or if it’ll be shaded all the time by trees or umbrellas.


  • ​Lasts for a really long time
  • Doesn’t break easily
  • ​Good for decks that are traversed frequently


  • ​Smells bad when it deteriorates
  • ​Not good for decks with lots of sun
  • ​Takes a long time to dry


Alkyd deck paint is composed with a special alkyd pentaphthalic varnish. This varnish is what allows alkyd paint to come in so many colorful varieties and visuals styles. For this reason, it’s one of the most versatile decades you can purchase.

Alkyd paints are often mixed with various types of sand or granite to add to its texture and solidity. It’s also frequently mixed with resin or other oils, or possibly glycerin depending on the brand. All of these combine to make a deck paint that’s great for all kinds of decks and uses, and you can also use alkyd paint for walls or other wooden surfaces without issue.

Alkyd paint is particularly resistant to all sorts of weather effects. Once settled, it can withstand the effects of weather for many years without fraying or diminishing. This includes the effects of rain and fog since the paint forms a tight seal over the wood that doesn’t let moisture penetrate easily.

Even temperature changes don’t phase alkyd paint. If you live in a place that sees hot summers and cold winters, you can safely apply alkyd paint to your deck without worry.

All of these effects must come with a high cost, right? Wrong! Alkyd paint is generally quite affordable, even in bulk. We’d recommend alkyd paint for those of you who have wide decks with tons of surface area and dramatic seasons.

As a bonus, alkyd paint is easy to mix with other paint colors so you can easily form your own personal shaded paint by mixing a few tubs together.

Paint in can scattered on a white tarp

There are a few downsides. For one, alkyd paint is particularly susceptible to catching on fire. We don’t recommend using this type of paint if you frequently barbecue on your wooden deck for this reason. In addition, although it can withstand the effects of weather degradation, it has a low natural bonding lifespan.

​Typical alkyd paint coats will last less than seven years in total. This is certainly acceptable if your paint is going to be rained on frequently anyway, but it is something to plan for since a new coat is almost certainly going to be necessary before a decade has passed.

Also, keep in mind that alkyd paint has a particularly bad smell until it’s totally dried and bonded to your wooden deck. This isn’t a huge deal but it might be notable if you’re spending time outside already.


  • ​Affordable
  • ​Good for all temperatures/weather
  • ​Good for all types of deck surfaces
  • Easy to mix colors


  • ​Smells bad until dry
  • ​Doesn’t last for too long
  • Flammable


Acrylic deck paint is water-based. This means that the paint should be quite durable and have an assortment of desirable qualities.

Acrylic paint is very resistant to all kinds of weather conditions, including rain and fog. It doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate from outside. In addition, it can withstand direct exposure to the sun very well, making it a prime paint choice for decks that are going to be sunny throughout the year.

Another great benefit for acrylic paint is that it’s elastic. This means that it can be safely painted on wooden decks that undergo temperature changes and it won’t crack or exfoliate. Wood typically expands or shrinks depending on the temperature and the moisture content of the air. Acrylic paint can flex with this movement and retain its smooth surface, preserving your hard-earned aesthetic.

You don’t even need to apply a ton of acrylic paint to get this great effect. Two layers are usually fine for most wooden services, even if they are darker than the paint itself. You can always apply more, but it’s nice to know that even a small supply can stretch quite dramatically.

Once applied, acrylic paint takes only about seven hours to dry totally. This limits the potential for accidents or for footprints to be tracked inside the house.

However, acrylic paint is relatively easy to scrape off or be broken by physical stress. Due to its low drying time, though, repairing any cracks or holes is less of a big deal than it might otherwise be.

One final benefit of acrylic paint is that it’s environmentally friendly. It’s not toxic to human health and it won’t poison your backyard during the painting process or as it inevitably cracks off from old age. Speaking of age, acrylic paint typically lasts for many years, although you may have to do some spot checking now and again and make occasional repairs.

At least it doesn’t take forever to dry!

The biggest downside to paint is that you need to store it carefully. In low temperatures, the paint substances will start to separate and you won’t be able to mix them together again without the proper tools and environment. In most cases, you just have to throw the cold paint out.

Therefore, we recommend using acrylic paint if you live in a warm climate or summer has just begun. This will help ensure that the paint ever becomes accidentally too cold to use.


  • ​Eco-friendly
  • ​Dries quickly
  • ​Resistant to sun and weather
  • Resistant to temperature changes
  • Don’t need a lot of layers


  • ​Has to be stored carefully
  • ​Easy to be broken
  • List Element


Rubber deck paint is also sometimes called latex paint. Like acrylic paint, it’s safe for humans and the environment. You can apply it without protective gloves and without using a respirator kit. This might make it an ideal choice for families since your kids won’t be in danger during the painting process.

Rubber paint is also quite durable. This is because, once it dries, a wear-resistant film appears over the rubber surface. This film covers any cracks that might crop up and acts like a shield, guarding the primary paint layer against physical and weather-based stress.

Despite this shield, rubber paint still allows water vapor to permeate to the base. This lets the paint and the wooden deck breathe, preventing stress cracks and drying out.

Rubber paint does have a downside in that it’s usually quite pricey. This is because rubber paint is often considered the best of the best when it comes to deck paints, although your ideal paint will depend on your budget and overall needs.


  • ​Very, very durable
  • ​Shields decks from damage and mold
  • ​Lets paint breathe without breaking
  • Resistant to weather/temperature effects


  • ​Pricey


The color of paint obviously affects the overall aesthetics of your deck. When choosing your paint color, you’ll want to find something that goes well with the natural color of your wood and the color aesthetic of your house as a whole.

It’s often a good idea to use a color wheel to figure out the color scheme of your house and find the deck paint color that goes well with that scheme. This will keep your deck looking like it’s a part of the whole unit instead of a separate project you threw together in a week.

Wear Resistance

The wear resistance of a particular paint is a great thing to think about before making a final purchase. Paints that are where resistance will last longer and be able to handle more foot traffic then paints which are flimsy or fragile.

Paints that fall apart or start to crack relatively easily will need to be repaired and painted over all the time. This can become extremely frustrating very quickly, and it makes your house look cheap as well.

Close up of an old deck

Instead, investing in deck paints that might be a little more expensive but which lasts for a much longer time is usually the economic choice. You’ll save money in the long run by purchasing a good deck paint that doesn’t require you to repaint every few months than you would getting cheap paint immediately. 

Where resistant deck paint will also last longer in inclement weather. This helps keep your deck looking great all throughout the year instead of falling apart during the fall or spring months.

Cracking Protection

As with wear-resistance, good deck paint should crack as little as possible. Deck paint cracking is usually caused by ultraviolet rays or precipitation, both of which cause the wood underneath the deck paint to flex or become moist.

As this occurs, your deck paint will be stressed since the original shape of its base will be changing. Deck paint that can accommodate these minor shape changes won’t crack as often.

In addition, anti-cracking deck paint can keep your wooden deck’s structure more rigid over time, since it would act as a “cast” of sorts to keep the wooden beams in place despite excessive flexing.

Overall, anti-crack deck paint is definitely the way to go if you can find it in the type you choose.

Cracking looks ugly, too, so avoid paints which easily crack if you want your deck to be the envy of your neighbors for the foreseeable future.

Organic Growth Deterrent

Finally, you might also try to find a deck paint that has a mineral or seal that prevents fungus or insects from growing inside your wood deck. This problem is particularly prevalent during the wet months of the year.

All deck paint acts as a deterrent in the short term, but paints that are particularly good at sealing away the wood or not cracking will be better at this aspect than others. Insects can make little nests in your wooden deck and cause you issues when they finally grow. For instance, you don’t want wasps making a nest on the side of your deck, right?

This has aesthetic reasons, too. Fungus and mold can grow on your deck and throw off the whole aesthetic you’ve had planned. While it’s true you can get rid of these growths manually, no one wants to do that much manual labor time and time again. Instead, get a good deck paint and you won’t have to worry much about this issue at all.

​Questions about Painting Your Deck

While the specifics will vary depending on the deck paint you’re using, the answer is generally yes. You should normally prime any service before painting, and that certainly includes wood since outdoor wooden decks are always exposed to all sorts of disturbances.

These include:

​Should I Prime My Deck Before Painting?

While the specifics will vary depending on the deck paint you’re using, the answer is generally yes. You should normally prime any service before painting, and that certainly includes wood since outdoor wooden decks are always exposed to all sorts of disturbances.

These include:

  • ​temperature changes
  • ​moisture
  • dirt and debris
  • ​foot traffic

Priming essentially forms an initial layer over the top of your wood deck and fills in all of the small pores and holes that might otherwise soak up the deck paint and prevent it from forming a uniform surface. Primer also stops deck paint from being simply absorbed by particularly porous wood like a stain is supposed to.

Priming also protects your wood from growing mold or mildew, since moisture can accumulate in the tiny holes beneath the paint. These small holes become enclaves for bacteria and fungi and may eventually turn into mold and mildew without primer filling in the holes first.

Some deck paints may advertise that they don’t require a primer. This is likely because their formula is thick enough to sink into the pores and prevent any extra space from the left unfilled when they’re applied to your wooden deck surface. 

However, unless your deck paint specifically says that it doesn’t require a primer you should always be prepared to add a primer layer before spreading the deck paint itself.

Can You Use A Roller to Paint a Deck?

​You will want to use a roller to paint your deck, and then finish with a brush. The same applies when using stain: lay the heavy two coats on with a roller, possibly a second coat and then do edgework and finishing with a brush.

​Here are the best types of rollers to use for your deck painting or staining, measured by their nap:

  • Foam Nap: for decks that have been sanded and are completely smooth. If you’re trying to gauge ​if your deck qualifies as this “smooth”, it should be sanded enough to run your hand over it without feeling any noticeable bumps.
  • 1/4″ – 1/2″ Nap: great for decks that moderately smooth, but still have bumps and undulations. This is also a great roller nap to use on a smooth deck that is a little bit older and has some wear.
  • 3/4″ Nap: perfect for decks that are rough and have not been sanded.

In general, the rougher and older the wood, the larger the roller nap you need. A higher nap means that you’ll need more paint, because the roller will soak up more of it.

​Is it Better to Paint or Stain a Deck?

This is not an easy answer, and depends on your preferences. Paint provides a better seal than stain, and better protection against water and sun. Stain has a much more natural look to it, and will allow you to retain the natural wood features.

Here are the benefits of using paint on your deck:

  • Paint will stand up longer and preserve your best deck better than stain. Paint protects better against mold, rot, beetles, moisture, and sun.
  • You will have more color options with paint.
  • Paint will fill in damaged areas better than stain. If you are working with a pre-existing deck, this makes paint a great option.

On the other hand, here are the benefits of using best deck stain:

  • Stain retains most of the wood’s natural characteristics, such as color and grain. If you want a natural looking wood deck, then this makes stain the best option.
  • Stain is a little easier to apply than pain.

Does Stain Require Primer?

No, it does not. As you might’ve gathered, the purpose of a stain is to sink into the wood and change the material’s color. This requires that it sinks into all of the pores and holes contained within the wood pieces so that it can change the color most effectively.

However, certain primers can be excellent additions to a staining job since they will prepare the wood for the top stain layer and help the stain fill in all the small pores. Essentially, it’s not a bad thing to apply primer with stain and you’re likely better off applying it anyway.

Like with paint, primer helps a staining product protect your wood from becoming a haven for mold and mildew growth. It’ll also help protect the wood from weather damage and from warping during temperature variations in the climate.

Overall, it’s always a good idea to apply primer before you paint or stain unless your particular choice product specifically says that it’s not needed.

How Many Layers of Paint Are Needed?

Once again, this depends on your specific deck paint or stain. Some products only require one layer to be fully cemented with the wood and achieve optimal color. Others can require up to five different coats before they are ready to fully dry and be walked on.

You should expect to apply at least two coats of paint no matter which one you choose. Even deck paints or stains that advertise that they only require one layer for optimal coloring may need a little touch up after the fact. Paint isn’t perfect and neither is your application brush; you may accidentally miss a spot where there and need to apply a little extra paint anyway.


As you can see, although there are tons of deck paint and stains available to choose from, narrowing down your options to the top candidates makes it a lot easier. Choose from one of the above options or remember the main considerations and you’ll have the best paint or stain possible for your wooden deck. Good luck and don’t forget primer!

Raised with a fix-it and improvement mindset, my wife and I completely restored our Craftsman-style home. Learning how to DIY a variety of home improvement projects, I started SawsHub with my father. He's the fine woodworker, I'm the DIYer!