How to Paint a Deck in Boho Rainbow Colors

4 Materials
7 Days

Here's how you can use a rainbow of paint colors to bring color and interest to your outdoor deck, fence, table, or bench:

By rainbow, we mean using lots of pretty colors and blending them with water and a paintbrush into large patches of color that merge together. All you will need is some waterbased acrylic or latex paints in tubes, bottles, or cans; water, and a paintbrush. We used a brush that was about 1.5" in width.

Here's how our project started: a typical bland, gray deck with a few spots that look like they were succumbing to rot. We treated the spots with all types of products to no avail. When we did the rainbow painting, and it washed off with time, the rot was gone forever! Latex reconditioned the wood.

Here's how our deck looks now! These wild colors hide dirt. When the deck was plain brown, you could see footprints everywhere. For a video of how we created the deck, check this link.

Another before shot.

Now this deck is a pleasure to see through windows and fun to decorate. To start, you will need to clear furniture and dirt from a section of your deck and assemble your paints, brush, wisk broom, baby wipes, and a cup of rinse water.

Where you have horizontal surfaces, you will want to be ready to seal your latex or acrylic with a tough varnish like "Spar" or "Marine" varnish when it dries. This will help it last through all types of weather.

Pay particular attention to surfaces that get a lot of traffic, like near doors or stairs. Make sure you have plenty of sealer for those areas after painting.

You need not paint your entire project at once. Since colors are blended together using water and a paintbrush, you can experiment and practice. If you do not like the results, leave the area un-sealed and let the weather wash the paint away.

To make deck painting easy and fun, we worked in small sections about 30 feet square. We swept with a wisk broom and gave ourself permission to try wild colors and metallics, and some spattering as shown above. An hour of painting on cool mornings got us through a hot summer. There was no rush or deadline. No back-breaking, boring, stain marathon.

We used a lot of blues and greens at first, but then we experimented with bolder colors as time went on. We recommended if you are trying this project, choose your favorite colors in small, inexpensive craft bottles. You will be surprised how much coverage you get from so little paint. For large quantities of paint, check the "Oops" paint section of stores for interesting shades.

We recommend using a small stool on which to sit to keep the weight off of your knees, and keep your painting sessions short. Working outside with bold colors is a chance to exercise your inner "Picasso." This wild section above is beautiful in the changing light …

… and became this pretty sitting area. The video at the top will show you the actual painting process and blending. Give it a look! Painting outdoors is a fun and refreshing pastime. Think of Claud Monet and his waterlilies. Your deck may be the big canvas on which you paint an ephemeral masterpiece. -- Stephie

If you love country decorating and are looking for free printables, our website is about using professional art techniques for crafting a country home. You can see our project archives here.

Resources for this project:
Spar, Marine Varnish, B000C011CE
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Stephie McCarthy
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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4 of 5 comments
  • April Rose-Sharp April Rose-Sharp on Feb 10, 2020

    Its so amazing!! How can it be made to sparkle or shine when the sun hits it?

    This project is on my list for the future.

    • Stephie McCarthy Stephie McCarthy on Feb 10, 2020

      We'll have to put our heads together to figure that one out! I have used metallic paints on this deck and they were gorgeous! -- Stephie

  • Fabulous idea!

    This year I was planning to repaint the back deck. I turned over the boards & put a finish on the deck 2 yrs ago. This idea is so appealing to me. I do have a degree in fine art,cannot believe I didn’t think of this before. Thanks for the encouragement. Great job.

    • Stephie McCarthy Stephie McCarthy on Feb 13, 2020

      I get a thrill every time I look through my window at my painted deck. So far, having used varnish on top before winter came, the colors are lasting really well. -- Stephie