Can You Paint or Stain Composite Decking?

You have enjoyed your composite deck for years, if not decades. However, after years of use and exposure to the outdoors, your deck may have developed imperfections and lost its initial sheen. Is the relationship over? What about painting or staining to revitalize the situation?

Can you paint composite decking?

Yes, but only if you are working with early-generation composite material. The composite core of contemporary composite decking is covered by a PVC top or shell that encases it. In addition to making the decking low-maintenance, the cap resists the adhesion of paint and stain. If you attempt to paint or stain modern composite decking, you will likely lose the guarantee.

Different rules apply to older composite decking, such as decking manufactured before 2010, for example. There is no plastic cover or shell present. Instead, the composite material is exposed, and if properly prepared, it can hold a paint or stain coat. In reality, this is an excellent method for restoring your deck's aesthetic appeal and extending its already lengthy lifespan.


Examine the cut end of a deck board to determine whether your deck is suitable for painting or staining. Decking of the first generation will be uniform in color from top to bottom. Over the gray or brown composite core, more modern choices will have a thin veneer or shell. The first type can be painted or stained, but the second cannot.


Read more: Deck Inspection: Checklist for Framing, Footings and More


In addition, it is strongly advised to contact the composite decking manufacturer to ensure that painting is permitted, is suggested, and will not void the guarantee.

What to Consider when Prepping to Paint or Stain your Composite Deck

Once you have confirmed that your composite decking may be painted or stained, remove all furniture and plants and clean the deck surface. Keep in mind that non-capped composite deck boards require different cleaning procedures and materials than capped composite deck boards. For example, you should avoid using a pressure washer on uncapped decking. It is too harsh and can cause surface damage. You should also avoid using harsh chemicals, such as cleansers designed for capped composite decking, on older composites. Consider products that are appropriate for wood decks, such as the Olympic Premium Deck Cleaning.

After cleaning, allow the decking to dry properly, which could take several days depending on the weather. Place a 1-foot-square piece of clear plastic sheeting over the deck and tape its four corners to test for dryness. If there is no condensation behind the cover after a few hours, the deck is dry enough for painting or staining.

When the weather prediction is favorable (no rain), mask off the sections that will not be covered and apply a high-quality deck stain or outside paint. This item is easily accessible at major merchants. Consider a more expensive two-part coating from Versacryl Restoration Solutions for a durable finish. It is designed for use with unshelled composite decking.

Materials Needed to Paint or Stain Composite Decking

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hose with spray attachment

  • Soft bristle brush (cleaning)

  • Deck cleaner

  • Paint roller/brush/pad/sprayer

  • Primer, if required/desired

  • Deck stain or Exterior paint suitable for decks

How to Paint Composite Decking

Step 1: Remove or cover plants

If you have a jungle on or overhanging your deck, you will need to remove pots and pull back and cover any vegetation so that you have unobstructed access and no debris will fall onto the deck while it is being coated.

Step 2: Clean your composite deck

Using soapy water and a brush with plastic bristles, remove trash and grime. Avoid pressure washing. For the removal of tenacious stains, such as mildew and mold, utilize wood-safe products, such as Olympic Premium Deck cleaning. Follow the instructions on the label. Do not use bleach or other strong chemicals, such as cleansers designed for composite decking with a cover.

Permit the decking to dry out. This could take many days, depending on the circumstances. Before applying paint or stain, test for dryness as mentioned above.

Step 3: Prime your deck

Numerous paints and stains do not need to be primed. Use a deck-specific acrylic latex exterior primer when required, or if you like a more opaque finish. Working along the length of the planks, apply it with a brush or a brush and roller. A roller with an extension handle will reduce back discomfort.

Step 4: Paint your deck

Once the primer has dried, apply the paint in the same manner as the primer. If required, apply two coats, but ensure that the first coat is completely dry before applying a second. Drying times vary; reference the product's label for the suggested drying time. Painting in direct sunlight can hasten the drying of the paint.

How to Stain Composite Decking

The process of staining a composite deck is similar to painting it. Consequently, the steps are extremely similar.

Step 1: Remove plants and other deck items

Remove any plants and furniture from the deck.

Step 2: Clean the deck surface

Similar to painting, deck staining includes the removal of dirt, debris, mold, and mildew. Refer to Step 2 of the painting tutorial. Follow the directions on cleaning product labels for optimal results. Thoroughly rinse and allow to dry.

Step 3: Apply the weatherproofing stain and sealer to the composite deck

Choose a proper stain and sealer, such as Rustoleum's Rock Solid Composite Deck Refresh, which can combat UV fading and discoloration. Utilize a high-quality pad applicator, brush, roller, or sprayer to apply the stain. Again, for the greatest results, adhere to the recommendations on the product label. Apply a second coat of stain if necessary for a richer, more saturated finish. Before applying sealant, you must wait until the stain is totally dry.

Step 4: Keep the deck clean

To maintain the appearance of your newly stained composite deck, wash it at least twice a year and add a maintenance coat of stain or paint as needed.

How to Remove Stains and Paint from Composite Decking

Occasionally, a complete deck staining or painting is unnecessary. After all, your composite deck was designed to eliminate the need for such extensive care. However, spot repairs, such as grease or rust stains, may require further work.


How can stains be removed from composite decking?


The best procedure for removing composite deck stains is the same as that for removing mildew and mold from a deck. Begin with warm water and a little detergent. For more difficult stains, employ a vinegar-water solution and sprinkle baking soda over the afflicted area.

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