June 20, 2023

How to Prepare and Paint Decking

How to Prepare and Paint Decking

How to Prepare and Paint Decking

With the weather warming up, it's time to give your outside decking area some much-needed TLC. Luckily, the task isn't as mammoth as you might think. All you need is high-quality paint from the Al Fresco Inside/Outside Range, cleaning equipment and a little elbow grease!

In this video, our talented brand ambassador Craig Phillips explains how to prepare and paint two types of decking with lasting results – previously painted planks and brand-new planks straight from the manufacturer. Although the material is the same, they require slightly different approaches to achieve a dreamy, super-smooth coverage.

Before we dive into the step-by-step instructions, let's run through some of the most frequently asked questions about how to paint decking.

When Is The Best Time To Paint Decking?

External wood surfaces can retain moisture for up to 48 hours after rainfall or preparation. As such, it's best to wait for a stretch of dry weather before painting your decking or outside timber furniture. Summer is the perfect time to brandish your brushes and get to work!

How Much Paint Do You Need For Decking?

Craig estimates that a 750ml tin of paint would cover around 12 and a half square metres of decking. However, this varies depending on how porous and flat the surface is. Most planks have routed-out grooves for non-slip treads, so you might need more mixture to fill the gaps. We suggest checking the details on the side of the tin for information about coverage.

How Long Does It Take To Paint Decking?

In the video, Craig only paints a small area of decking – around six square metres, which takes him approximately 12 to 15 minutes with a Large Oval Brush. Hopefully, this gives you a rough guestimate of times.

However, if your area is a lot larger or you're working to a tight deadline, you could use a handheld paint sprayer instead. When choosing this method, dilute the mixture by 15%. Otherwise, it'll be too thick to pass through the nozzle. Craig also suggests applying three coats to achieve full coverage.

How Do I Protect My Decking So It Lasts?

You'll be pleased to know Al Fresco paint is highly durable and completely weatherproof, so perfect for outdoor projects. Plus, it's self-priming and self-sealing for maximum convenience. Nevertheless, you could add a finishing coat for extra protection if you're decking is going to receive heavy traffic. Something like Frenchic's Tuff Top Coat will do the trick.

Decking Painting Guide

What You’ll Need

How To Prepare Previously Painted Wood Planks

As Craig says in the video – if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Thorough preparation is the secret to any successful DIY project because surfaces must be in a suitable and dry condition for paint to adhere.

Start by scrubbing your previously painted wood planks with a hard yard brush to remove debris. Then give the timber a good clean with a hand scrubbing brush and sugar soap solution (mix the sugar soap with warm water beforehand). A smaller, hard-bristled brush effortlessly slips between the grooves, making it easier to eliminate stubborn moss and algae.

A powerful jet wash is the quickest way to remove the soapy residue. However, a few buckets of clean, warm water works equally well. Whichever you choose, ensure the planks are completely dry before sanding and painting. Remember, external wood surfaces can retain moisture for up to 48 hours after preparation.

Craig waits until the following day for the next steps. He uses a compact wire wool brush to flake away loose paint chips and splinters. Then he smooths the wood with light sandpaper and brushes away the dust.

How To Prepare Brand-New Wood Planks

Brand-new wood planks are often tanalised with a water-based wood treatment to preserve the timber. However, the process sometimes gives the decking an unusual green tint. Don't worry – it's not a bad thing. Al Fresco paint is thick and creamy enough to cover any imperfections.

Another thing you might notice are counter-sunk screw holes that have gone deeper than the grooves themselves. Craig suggests filling these with an external, paintable filler or risk water collecting in the pockets and penetrating the wood. It's easy to apply with a cork gun. Place the nozzle over the hole, squeeze a small amount in and press it flat with a scraper. Finish by smoothing everything out with a damp cloth or finger.

Although Craig's planks are brand-new, he notices a large crack in one of the grooves. The solution? He takes the same approach – applying filler, scraping away the excess and wiping everything down with a wet cloth. All that's left to do is wait for the filler to dry, which takes around 24 hours.

The final step is to gently buff the surfaces with a sanding sponge and P150 grit sandpaper. Not only will this flatten any lumps and bumps, but it'll remove splinters before painting. Afterwards, give everything a quick brush down with a broom.

How To Paint Previously Painted Wood Planks

Once you've meticulously inspected the woodwork and removed loose flakes and dirt, it's time to get painting. Craig uses Swanky Pants – a sophisticated and sassy shade of grey, ideal for contemporary spaces. Best of all, you can apply it directly onto timber surfaces because it's self-levelling, self-priming and self-sealing. 

There's no need to dilute the mixture when painting previously painted planks unless you opt for a handheld sprayer (see the FAQs above). Craig applies the colour straight from the tin, giving it a firm shake beforehand.

As for technique, there isn't one really! The process is so simple that the most inexperienced DIYers could achieve a flawless finish. Simply brush up and down on the planks following the grain, paying special attention to the treads. Craig uses a Large Oval Brush with long bristles to firmly press into the recesses.

Although Al Fresco paint is touch dry in one hour, Craig recommends leaving the first coat for four hours in normal conditions before applying another one. He also suggests removing your shoes while painting – socks are far less likely to damage your hard work. Adopt the same method for the second coat. You don't need to dilute the mixture or sand between layers.

How To Paint Brand-New Wood Planks

Painting brand-new wood planks is a little different. Craig uses Victory Lane to set the scene – a popular shade of British racing green that makes colourful flowerbeds and freshly mown lawns pop. As he's painting onto bare timber, he dilutes his mixture by 10% with clean, cold water. Give everything a good stir to help the colour penetrate the wood.

A Large Oval Brush is the best choice for unique projects like decking areas because it offers maximum speed of coverage. Plus, it's suitable for almost any type of paint. Like above, there's not much technique involved – just follow the grain and work your bristles into the grooves and edges. Leave the first coat to dry for at least four hours.

Unlike previously painted planks, you might need to gently sand bare timber between coats. If you do this, brush away excess dust before moving on to your second layer. After another four hours, Craig suggests adding a third coat because the paint has been diluted. Basically, the more you apply, the better protection you'll have!

What’s The Best Paint For Outside Decking?

Now you know how to paint decking, you’re probably searching for high-quality materials. If you want to revamp your outside area, you can't go wrong with specialist paint from the Al Fresco Inside/Outside Range. It requires very little preparation and can be directly applied onto wood planks, so you'll be ready to relax in the sun or entertain guests in no time!

While Craig used Victory Lane and Swanky Pants, there are countless other colours to browse – plus exciting Limited Editions offered annually. You can also check out the Frenchic blog or YouTube channel for more decorating tips and tricks.


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