The Best Deck Paints, According to DIYers
Do right by your deck by painting it pronto with the long-wearing paint that’s ideal for its age and condition.
Serving to extend your home’s living area for personal downtime and festive gatherings, the backyard deck sees a ton of traffic and takes a beating from the elements even when it’s not in use. So if you’re noticing aged wood or peeling paint, it’s probably time for a fresh coat—the sooner the better! The longer you wait to paint your deck, the more flaws it will accrue, and the harder this exterior paint job will be.
Deck paint hides flaws in wood and is easily customizable to match or contrast with the color of your home’s siding, thanks to a wide array of colors available. But you’ve got to choose one that can stand up to harsh outdoor conditions, including blowing dirt, wind, rain and temperature extremes. Keep reading to learn how to judge the best deck paint and what qualifies the following four options as suitable for the most common situations.
- BEST ALL-PURPOSE DECK PAINT: KILZ Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY DECK PAINT: Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint
- BEST FOR DECKS THAT GET WET: Rust-Oleum Marine Topside Paint
- BEST NON-SLIP DECK PAINT: Durabak 18 Outdoor Textured Deck Paint
Choosing the Right Deck Paint
Oil-based vs. Water-based Deck Paints
Deck paint comes in two main types, oil-based and water-based, and each one has a few pros and cons. While oil-based paints were once ruled the market, water-based products are in greater demand today, due to improved durability and ease of use.
Oil-based deck paint…
- offers a tough, durable finish. It’s been around for decades and many pros still swear by it.
- lasts five to 10 years, depending on the condition of wood when painted.
- offers optimal moisture protection.
- is high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can create fumes that can make your eyes water or lead to a sore throat or other respiratory issues if inhaled.
- requires the use of a solvent, such as paint thinner or turpentine, to clean up from brushes, rollers, and spray guns.
- can take up to 24 hours to dry sufficiently to recoat, although some oil-based paints now contain quick-drying additives that allow recoating in six to eight hours.
- is available in a range of colors.
Water-based deck paint…
- is low in VOCs.
- lasts from four to eight years, depending on wood condition and paint quality. Typically, the more expensive water-based paints contain the highest amount of acrylic—the ingredient that makes the paint last longer.
- offers the best protection against fading.
- sees less cracking and peeling, due to the flexibility of acrylic ingredients.
- cleans up easily with just soap and water.
- dries quickly—ready to recoat in four to six hours.
- is available in a wide range of colors.
When it comes to standing up to the elements, the paint you choose must be labeled either “deck paint” or “exterior paint,” which are both suitable for painting the railing and flooring on a deck. Steer clear of interior paints, which do not have adequate weather- and fade-resistant qualities.
Deck paint is available in different surface finishes, depending on the percentage of gloss ingredients in the formula.
- Eggshell: Eggshell deck paint has a slight sheen, about 10 percent, and it provides a nice soft finish, and the low level of shine helps hide flaws in the wood. But dirt tends to collect on an eggshell surface, making it a good option for enclosed decks not subjected to blowing dust.
- Satin: Also called “low luster,” it’s a popular choice for outdoor decks because it offers a muted sheen (about 30 percent) yet still hides many flaws and allows for easy dirt and dust removal by simply sweeping.
- Semi-gloss: Easy to sweep clean and wipe spills away, semi-gloss (also known as enamel) provides about 70 percent sheen. This is the finish most commonly used for exterior trim work, doors, and shutters, so choose semi-gloss if you want an exact match to your trim.
- High gloss: Very easy to keep clean—dust and dirt blow right off and spills are easy to wipe up. However, high gloss, with about 85 percent shine, will highlight flaws in woodwork. Every nail hole and chunk of missing wood will show, so it’s a better choice for newer built decks.
Because they’re intended for exterior use, most deck paints contain additives to protect the deck from mold and mildew, harsh UV rays, and from temperature extremes. While you can choose paints with one or two of these additives, it’s often a good idea to opt for a product with all three additives for the best protection and longest-lasting color.
The Best Deck Paints
Decks come in all shapes, sizes, and designs, so there’s not one single paint that’s best for all. The following four, however, have been tested and approved by enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers happy to share the products that worked best for them.
BEST ALL-PURPOSE DECK PAINT: KILZ Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Paint ($28.98 per gallon)
Packing a protective punch against UV rays, mold, mildew, and water damage, KILZ’s Enamel Porch and Patio Paint is a good choice for most situations. It comes in an attractive silver-gray color and a slightly darker, slate-gray shade and dries to a durable, low-luster finish that withstands high traffic and frequent sweeping. DIYers award this water-based paint a hearty 4.2 out of five stars for easy application, durability, and a great looking deck surface. The paint It can be applied by brush, roller, or spray gun, dries to the touch in one hour, and a second coat can be applied in four to six hours. Available from Amazon.
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY DECK PAINT: Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint ($27.99 per gallon)
For an environmentally responsible paint that protects from mold, mildew, and UV rays, Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint fills the bill. It’s available in either semi-gloss or low-luster, and it comes in 20 pleasing gray and earth tones, including “Riverstone,” “Sage,” and “Desert Tan.” This water-based, low-VOC paint is free of toxic fumes, and Amazon buyers give it a resounding 4.1 stars for easy application with brush, roller, or sprayer and soap-and-water cleanup. Available from Amazon.
BEST FOR DECKS THAT GET WET: Rust-Oleum Marine Topside Paint ($16.78 per quart)
Decks in rainy regions or those in the direct path of a sprinkler system will benefit from the extra water-resistance protection of a marine paint, such as Rust-Oleum’s Marine Topside Paint. Designed to protect from direct water exposure and is commonly used on boats, it also repels mold, mildew, and UV rays. It comes in nine colors, including “Battleship Gray,” “Sand Beige,” and “Oyster White,” and is available in gloss and semi-gloss surface sheens. Amazon buyers rave about the water-resistant properties of Marine Topside, awarding it 4.5 stars. They also love the hard, durable finish it imparts to their decks. This oil-based paint, which can be applied by brush, roller or sprayer, contains fast-drying additives and can be recoated in as little as six hours. A solvent is required for cleanup. Available from Amazon.
BEST NON-SLIP DECK PAINT: Durabak 18 Outdoor Textured Deck Paint ($123.99 per gallon)
The combination of a wood deck and wet feet call for the application of a dependable non-slip paint, such as Durabak 18 Outdoor Textured Deck Paint. Standard deck paint creates a smooth finish that can be slippery when wet, as is common with decks around pools. Durabak’s textured surface—thanks to tiny granules made from recycled rubber tires—provides a “grip” factor that reduces the risk of slips and falls. The paint, also commonly used on boat decks, can be applied by brush, roller, or sprayer fitted with a large ¼-inch spray tip. It comes in 33 attractive colors, including “Olive,” “Avocado Green,” and “Brick Red.” This fast-drying water-based paint can be recoated in as little as two hours and earns four stars from Amazon buyers impressed by its safe, non-slip surface. Available from Amazon.