Asked on Jun 15, 2016

New deck and railings, should I paint, stain, or just seal? Help!

Ana illausky
by Ana illausky
We just completed our new deck. Hooray! We did a little at a time. My dilemma is that I'm not sure about the finish. There are so many good looks out for this project. With so many finishes out there, our home has a neutral color of tan siding. I feel that after the deck/railings are complete, we can then move on to furniture, planters and etc. Really Need Your Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  23 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jun 15, 2016
    My advice to you is never use a paint on decks . It eventually peels creating so much more work. Decks in general are a lot of work,however I would choose a good stain which is a lot easier to remove then paint.Make sure it has a stain and sealer in one.
  • William William on Jun 15, 2016
    If you want the natural look of the wood, just seal it. If you want a different color, use a semi transparent stain. It will add color and still show the grain. DO NOT PAINT, as Janet suggests!
    • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Jun 15, 2016
      Hi William I am under the impression that if the deck is made with pressure treated lumber it should not be stained / sealed for at least 1 yr. What is your take on this, just for my own info.
  • William William on Jun 15, 2016
    True. Wait for at least one year before staining and sealing.
  • Looks like a great time to use Unicorn Spit. I would paint the rails (whatever color you like) and then use an oil based sealant on everything.
  • Lori Schrader Lori Schrader on Jun 16, 2016
    Look at your house. Do you want your deck to stand out or do you want it to blend in? If you want it to blend in, then I would paint the rails white and seal the walk way. If you want it to stick out, then I would stain it with a darker stain.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jun 16, 2016
    You got a boat now. Think of your deck as a boat, in and out of water . Use a 'marine' product to protect it. I prefer varathanes. Most 'deck products' are made to have you re-buy them every few years. And they are expensive and lots of work. Ahoy, you got a boat!
  • Brenda Brenda on Jun 16, 2016
    I would seal in a dark tone. So many of my neighbors that have painted their decks have had them peel.
  • Cindi Cindi on Jun 16, 2016
    Use FLOOD semi transparent-you have to do it every 2 yrs or so but well worth it. I have been using it on my deck for about 20 yrs.
  • Deb2349588 Deb2349588 on Jun 16, 2016
    I like the natural look. Seal with Thompson's water seal. It lasts about 2 years then you can powerwash & do it again. If you keep it up, it will always look new!
  • She7067237 She7067237 on Jun 16, 2016
    I would definitely just seal it. Paint peels and always looks bad. Then it's sanding and scraping and painting all over again!! Never looks right. When doing planters -- keep in mind how much the flowers to fill them are going to cost and go from there as to how many and how big. Been there, done that!!!
  • Linda Johnson Linda Johnson on Jun 16, 2016
    We used "Super Deck" stain on our bridges, wishing wells, planters, benches, etc, that we build for our friends and neighbors. (Cedar color) The stain needs to be reapplied every year, but our items look new - year after year. Check it out on our blog: This is what we'd use on our deck.
  • Donna Donna on Jun 16, 2016
    By all means put on water seal. A cheap 1 gallon pump up sprayer will do the job well.
  • Robyn Robyn on Jun 16, 2016
    Whatever you do DO NOT PAINT IT AS IT LOOKS SO UNNATURAL. cheers
    • Ang7062449 Ang7062449 on Jun 17, 2016
      Painting does look nice. BUT DON'T DO IT. IT IS MORE PROBLEMS THAN IT'S WORTH.
  • Del Del on Jun 16, 2016
    Just leave it and wash in the late spring with a STRONG bleach and water solution. Add a little dish soap so it will sudd (bubble?) a bit just so you know where you have done it. Thompsons works OK but you still have to wash. Do the bleach thing, let it sit and hope for rain the next day. If no rain you may want to hose it off, I never do but in the Pacific NW rain is sure to do the work at least once a week. Maybe Thompsons on the railing uprights. I use boiled Lynnseed oil diluted with paint thinner so it spreads easy. Being lazy I dilute enough to be able to spray it with a garden sprayer or even a squirt bottle. If you decide to stain or paint it will come off in flakes. And rot. The water will get in the wood from the bottom unpainted side and not be able to get out through the paint. It will try and = peeling paint/stain. some won't make it out = rot. Me and my neighbor put up decks at the same time, He painted (it looked great for a while) - I did not. Three years later he was replacing his 2x6's they where rotten. Mine are still good 12 years later.
    • John McIntosh Sr. John McIntosh Sr. on Sep 14, 2019

      PLEASE!! No Thompson's. Try to change the color or re-stain? You have to spend weeks getting the wax off. NO THOMPSON"S !!! Put it on one season then spent 2 trying to get it off. Finally had to double sand a 900 square foot deck at the cost of 1700.00 dollars. NO THOMPSON'S!!!

  • Just John Just John on Jun 16, 2016
    I agree with Del. Let it dry first if it's pressure treated.
    • Del Del on Jun 17, 2016
      Thanks John. another trick I used (I have built a couple of decks) is to put down the boards when they are good and wet. I spread them out in the yard hoping for rain. If no rain hose them down with a lawn sprinkler. This makes them swell and​ then you do not have to space them. It will also allow you to bend the kinks out of them if any are a little warped.
  • Just John Just John on Jun 17, 2016
    Down in Florida, I'd bind all my 2x4's, 2x6's together, both ends and lay them on the pool deck; rotating them often so that they would dry straight and flat.
  • Adele Kurtz Adele Kurtz on Sep 29, 2016
    I agree with Del. The moment you put stain on it, you're committed for life. If you do not mind letting it age to grey... Let it go until spring at minimum for curing sake. My architect husband never stained our outdoor furniture or decks, used oil on the furniture, they aged to grey. BTW: I've read horrible reviews about Thompson water seal.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 13, 2023

    Maybe use a Yatch Varnish, or leave as is to weather to a light grey.

  • If it's treated wood, wait 6 months to a year before sealing.

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 03, 2023

    Don't use paint it peels and makes the deck look horrible. Stain it but If your deck was made with new, smooth wood, you’ll need to wait at least three months before staining your deck.

    Rough-sawn wood can be stained right away, as long as it is clean and the wood is dry. If you are unsure if you have rough-sawn wood, post a picture in the comment area with some basic info about your project and we’ll help you figure it out.

    Kiln-dried wood and KDAT wood will need one to two months before you can stain it.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 01, 2023

    Try a light stain this year! If you don't like it do a darker one next time and so on until you are happy with the end effect.

  • Deb K Deb K on May 19, 2023

    Hi Ana, you will want to let it weather for a season before staining or sealing it. Transparent sealer leaves the natural wood look Like, eg. Thompson's water seal, Varathane or polyurethane . You can also use a transparent or semi transparent stain which will leave the grain visible. I would not paint it though.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Oct 31, 2023

    Maybe use a Wood Preserver with colour rather than paint or just stain, or if hardwood, leave to weather.