Some people argue that painting a deck, as opposed to using a wood stain treatment, is a bad idea. Decks are vulnerable to all the elements of the outdoors (wind, rain, sun, etc.) which makes it unlikely that your deck paint will last for as long as a wood stain would. In the end of the day, it's your deck and your choice - and there are certain steps you can take to ensure maximum paint durability, as well as a beautiful and tasteful overall look for your deck.
Choosing Paint Color
When choosing a suitable paint color for your deck, there are several factors that you should take into account. For example, how will the color complement the natural beauty of the wood itself, blend in with the environmental surroundings, and coordinate with the color scheme of the exterior of your home? Certain neighborhoods are subject to regulations governing what you are allowed to do in terms of decorating the outside of your home - make sure you are aware of these before you start.
Choosing A Paint Type
A deck is an exterior surface - therefore it needs a good quality exterior paint. These are a bit more expensive than paint for the inside of a house. Don't be tempted to save money by using an interior paint on your deck - it won't last long. There are several types of exterior paints available:
Oil-based paints - these last longer than latex paints but they also take longer to dry after application. They produce more unpleasant fumes than latex paints, and you must wear a mask over your mouth and nose while you are using paints in this category.
Alkyd paints - these are very similar to oil-based paints, they also dry more slowly than latex paints and give off more fumes.
Latex-based paints - the fact that these paints dry relatively quickly needs to be weighed up against their tendency to peel off if they're applied to a surface that hasn't been adequately prepared.
Preparing Your Deck
You never, ever paint a dirty surface if you want to achieve a good result. This means you're going to have to clean your deck thoroughly, and apply a primer coat, before you start painting.
Start by sweeping away all the loose surface dirt. Then start cleaning out all the dirt that has gathered between the wooden slats, and at the joins between the supporting posts and the deck surface. Removing all this dirt will help prevent the wood of your deck rotting in the future.
You should then wash the deck surface to remove any mold or mildew growing there. Ordinary household bleach and warm water will do a good job providing that your deck is not too dirty, but oxygen bleach will prevent any damage to the plants and grass in your garden. If your deck is extremely dirty, you may want to use a power hose for cleaning. You should hire a professional to do this for you to prevent any damage to the deck itself.
If your deck has already has a layer of old paint, you may want to strip it all off before repainting. You'll need to apply paint stripping solution, and then wait for it to dry before sanding away any leftover paint residue. Sweep away any sanded particles and apply a primer coat. When the primer has dried (give it at least 24 hours) you are ready to begin painting!