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  1. Blog
  2. Can you use fence paint on decking?
Add value to your home
02 January 2024

Can you use fence paint on decking?

Kimberley Taylor
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. Common decking issues
  2. 2. Can you use fence paint on decking?
  3. 3. Decking maintenance and cleaning
  4. 4. Preparing your decking for treatment
  5. 5. Treating your decking
  6. 6. Decking oils
  7. 7. How to apply decking oil
  8. 8. Decking paint
  9. 9. Deck stain
  10. 10. Decking protector
  11. 11. Summary: Don't use fence paint if you want long lasting decking!

Decks can be a great addition to the home. Whether it's to unwind with a good book or host an al fresco meal in the heart of summer, they can be a great way to increase a property's value, as well as improve curb appeal.

But unfortunately, a lot of homeowners fail to maintain and treat their decking properly. And when decking doesn't get the proper treatment, it can lose its aesthetic appeal and eventually become a bit of an eye sore.

Treating your decking can seem like a big job, and it might be tempting to cut corners. You might hope to kill two birds with one stone and paint the fence, fence panels and the deck while you're at it. What's the difference, right?

Actually, the difference is pretty huge. Plenty of people will tend to use fence paint on decking, but it's not really a recommended method. Though it may seem like the cheaper, easier choice, it's actually much better to use decking paint, oils or stain instead - it lasts longer, it’s better for the wood, and it’ll look much more appealing.

Common decking issues

Wood is a commonly used material for decking, but it needs to be protected against the elements and the weather. If a wood deck isn't treated with the proper protection, it can cause splintering, cracking, discolouring, as well as other damage.

And if left untreated, the wood can rot and cause serious structural damage, making it really unsafe.

Can you use fence paint on decking?

In theory, you can use fence paint on decking. But in practice, you really shouldn't.

Fence paint is ultimately designed for wooden surfaces that don't have any foot traffic, which means it's not very resistant to wear and tear. If you use fence paint on decking, the reality is, it's not very long lasting.

Fence paint will eventually peel and flake because it's a lot thinner than other types of paint. This seriously increases the risk of transferring paint stains onto your decking. Which of course, nobody wants!

Decking maintenance and cleaning

You must clean your decking once or twice a year as part of your basic deck maintenance routine. This includes cleaning the wood surface from dirt to prevent moss and algae growth.

Cleaning your timber deck boards:

Use a stiff brushed broom to sweep the decking and remove any loose dirt and debris. Make sure you cover any nearby plants and grass with a plastic dust sheet to protect them from any damage caused by cleaning detergent.

You should also use mould treatment to get rid of any mould on the deck before cleaning. If you start cleaning before you remove the mould, it could easily spread and you'd be back to square one.

Apply timber decking cleaning detergent to the deck's surface before scrubbing it in with a stiff brush. Leave the detergent on the decking for 20 minutes before rinsing it with clean water and a pressure washer or garden hose.

Cleaning your composite decking:

Because composite decking is made from recycled wood particles and plastic resin, it doesn't have the same issues as timber decking. This means it doesn't need much cleaning and maintenance - just an occasional brush with soapy water.

Preparing your decking for treatment

You can't just start treatment straight away; you need to make sure the surface is properly prepared to ensure the treatment has the best chance of working.

After you've cleaned the decking, you'll need to use a scraper to remove any old layers of stain or paint. You can also do this through sanding. And always make sure you scrape or sand in the direction of the wood's grain.

Treating your decking

Which decking treatment you choose will depend on the type of wood your deck is made from.

New decking

Brand new decking will usually come pre-treated, so you shouldn't try to treat it for around six months to make sure it naturally weathers first. But because the exposed cut ends of new decking need to be sealed as it's installed, you should use an end grain protector to treat this type of decking.

An end grain protector will stop any moisture from seeping into the wood deck and warping or splitting the wood.

European softwoods

European softwoods include Scots pine, maritime pine and Norway spruce. Because they're sensitive to elements, they have to be treated regularly. You can use any of the treatments available - it just depends on what you prefer.

European hardwoods

These include oak, black locust and chestnut. They're more robust against the weather than softwoods, but the tannins contained in these wooden surfaces could spoil the look of the decking if they aren't treated regularly. Just like softwoods, you can use any treatment with this type of decking.

Exotic woods

Woods such as mahogany, teak and ipe are known as exotic woods. They're very dense and naturally oily, which means they don't rot and can even repel insects. However, they still need to be treated because they can fade quickly.

Because they have such a high natural oil content, some decking oils or deck stain can be difficult to apply. You'll need to treat exotic wooden decking with a penetrating wood oil that's specifically designed for that wood surface type.

Decking oils

Decking oils protect timber deck boards from drying, splitting, warping, swelling and fading by soaking into the wood to create a dirt and waterproof barrier. The oil is designed to stop decay, as well as to make the timber last longer. It's also the least slippery of all the different decking treatments.

You can get decking oil in a variety of wood colours to enhance the natural beauty of the original wood.

How to apply decking oil

Before you apply any decking oil, make sure you clean and strip it of any old oil, deck stain or paint first.

To calculate how much oil you need to use, work out the size of the decking area in square metres (multiply width by depth) before checking how much square metre coverage of the deck stain you want to buy.

This acts as a good guide to how much you'll need (though it's always better to get some extra in case the decking soaks up more oil than you originally thought).

If you need to use more than one tin of oil, just mix oil from two tins together in the same bucket before shaking it to get a consistent colour.

Use a paint brush or paint pad to apply decking oil to grooved or smooth decking. (Just make sure you don't overload your brushes with the oil!)

Using long strokes, start painting in the back corner of the deck and continue painting forward in the direction of the grain. Try to focus on four boards at a time so you don't get any overlap marks, and try not to walk on the oil while it's still wet.

Wait for four hours before applying a second coat. This will then take about 24 hours to fully dry.

Decking paint

Deck paint sits on the surface, creating a dirt and waterproof barrier that gives the wood protection from the weather, as well as preventing rot and decay. It also fills small cracks, smooths rough surfaces, covers grey wood and gives the decking a more natural colour with a clear crisp, non-grainy finish.

How to apply deck paint

Applying deck paint is similar to applying decking oil. You need to clean and strip the decking first, before working out how much paint you need to buy.

However, because deck paint is thicker than oils or stains, it usually has lower coverage. Using a roller or sprayer to paint on decking is just as suitable as a brush or pad.

To use a roller, stir the paint until you get a consistent colour, then pour the paint into a tray (making sure not to overload it).

Then, as with decking oils, start in the back corner of the deck and move forward, focusing on four boards at a time and turning the roller as you're painting. Then go over the boards again to make sure the finish is consistent and to avoid any pooling paint.

If you're painting with a sprayer, start from the top and work your way down. Spray the railings first, then spray the deck boards one board at a time.

To prevent heavy spots, drips and runs, make sure you keep the sprayer moving as your spray. It's always good to use a paint brush to smooth out any of the spots or drips.

Wait four hours before applying a second coat. Drying time will vary depending on which type of paint you use, so make sure you check the tin so you don't spoil the finish.

Deck paint comes in a variety of different colours, so it's a nice way to add a personal finish to your decking.

Deck stain

Deck stain is similar to paint as it adds colour to the decking. However, because deck stain colours are opaque, the wood grain shows through. Deck stain sits on the surface of the decking to create a waterproof barrier that protects the wood from the weather, as well as slowing down ageing.

Much like deck paint, decking stain comes in a variety of natural wood colours, as well as clear colours. It can be used for all types of wooden decking apart from exotic woods.

How to apply deck stain

You can apply deck stain using a paint brush or pad if you want to apply using the oil method. Or, you can use a roller or sprayer if you want to apply using the paint method.

If you go down the roll or spray route, make sure you're painting in the same direction as the wood grain if you're applying deck stain. Try not to overlap layers and don't apply more than the wood can absorb. Apply a second coat after four hours.

Decking protector

Decking protector will (you guessed it) protect the decking, giving it a clear and protective barrier that repels moisture. It will also give the decking protection against water damage, UV rays, and foot traffic, while still allowing the wood to breathe and weather naturally.

Because decking protector is translucent, it won't change the colours of the wood. It's also suitable for all types of wooden decking, apart from exotic woods.

Summary: Don't use fence paint if you want long lasting decking!

So, hopefully you're no longer wondering if you can use fence paint on decking. The simple answer is you shouldn't - there are better and more effective options available.

While fence paint may be the cheaper option, it can't hold up to foot traffic and will eventually peel and flake off. It also doesn't add any protection to the decking and the wood runs the risk of rotting. It's always better to use decking stain or paint rather than fence paint as it protects as well as treats the wood. Plus, it adds a much sleeker finish!

Different options will work on different types of wood, so make sure to do your research to find the one that fits both your personal preference as well as providing the appropriate treatment.

Not to mention - applying the right treatment for your decking can add some serious value to your home. To find out your current home's value, use our Online Valuation Tool here. And happy painting!

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