If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor deck, you should do what’s needed to keep it in good physical and aesthetic shape – the price isn’t too steep and the rewards are many. Over time, UV rays from the sun, moisture from the air and rain, and regular use will cause a deck’s wood to fade, rot or otherwise decay. Here’s a look at painting as a solution to keep your deck safe and looking good, and the cost involved.
Painting Untreated Wood, Stained Wood, Painted Wood & Redwood
Untreated, or “bare”, wood is much more susceptible to rot, weakening from UV rays, and moisture than any other type of wood, as there is no barrier to keeping any of these out of the wood. Some decks are built with “pressure-treated” wood, which has chemicals forced into the wood under pressure to protect against these factors, but many decks are built with plain old lumber that needs TLC. Stained wood has some protections, as the stain itself will help block some of the sun’s rays and resist water. Redwood decking is expensive, but this wood has a natural resistance to rot and is therefore favored by many builders. Any wood deck will have a much longer life when painted or stained, and its current condition will have some influence on the price of the job. On average, deck painting costs between $2 and $4 per square foot; if significant prep work is needed to get in shape for a new coat of paint, costs will fall on the higher end of the scale.
Deck Size and Style
Your deck’s size and complexity will obviously dictate a good deal of the cost when painting or staining. Most pros price painting jobs by the surface area involved; the square footage of the deck itself is calculated by multiplying width by length, but the formula used for railings and steps may vary with their style. Keep in mind that most surfaces will need multiple coatings, so budget accordingly. A gallon of primer or paint will cover 300 to 400 square feet on average, but on exceptionally dry woods it may only go over 150 square feet, as much of it will be absorbed. Material costs increase proportionately with the size of a deck, but labor costs often go down as the size of the job goes up. So, while re-painting a 150 square foot deck with two tiers, three sets of stairs, and railings all around may cost $6 per square foot, similar service on a 300 square foot ground-level deck with no stairs or railings may cost just $2 or $3 per square foot.
Pressure Washing a Deck
Getting all the gunk off your deck – including what’s in the cracks between the boards – can be a challenge. However, it’s necessary to prep the surfaces for priming, painting or staining and should not be overlooked. Having your painter or a pressure-washing service clean the deck is a great (and fast) way to accomplish this. Most pros can clean a 150 square foot deck for a price of $75 to $300 in a little less than an hour.
Paint vs. Stain
Paint or stain will both protect your deck from the elements; the key difference is that paint forms a thin film atop the wood while stain soaks into the surface. The two processes have similar costs, but the difference in the job is often found in the steps and materials needed for preparing the surface. Readying a deck for stain may require stripping the existing finish, which can add quite a bit of time and labor cost to the project. On the other hand, a good paint job usually calls for a primer coating, which will help the paint adhere correctly (if you don’t use primer it’s a lot more likely that the paint will start peeling and cracking before long).
Waterproofing and Sealing a Deck
There are also coverings to provide a waterproof coating or seal over a stained or painted deck. Some are called clear coats, and will help showcase and protect the colors or woodgrain patterns in the deck. Others can add a texture so that the surface won’t be slippery. These coatings can also provide additional protection against mold, mildew and termites, so they’re a good thing to consider. For a typical deck, it will cost $1 to $3 per square foot to add a coating like this.
|$320 - $500||$450 - $700||$650 - $1,200|
The condition and features of a deck are important factors in the price of painting. Check out our examples to see how the details affect the cost of painting a 120 square foot deck.
Basic Maintenance: $320 - $500
- • Condition: Staying on top of painting keeps prep work to a minimum. When a simple pressure washing and quick sanding are all that’s needed, the job is fairly quick.
- • Features: A short staircase and basic horizontal railing style make for simple application of primer and paint.
- • Finish: A single coat of primer and two coats of deck paint are all it takes to freshen up and protect this project.
Time For a Facelift: $450 - $700
- • Condition: In order to go with a new stain color on this deck, it takes a little more elbow grease to sand off the old finish. The extra work can add $100 to $200 to the bottom line
- • Features: A long run of stairs and a railing with balusters makes both prep and staining a time-consuming process. Negotiating the nooks and crannies can add $1 or more per square foot overall.
- • Finish: Two coats of semi-transparent deck stain give great results here, and since the bulk of the work is wrapped up in prep, this part of the job goes pretty quickly.
Restoring a Gem: $650 - $1,200
- • Condition: Old, flaking paint requires a lot of attention in order to get a smooth finish with a new coating. Pressure washing won’t be enough here; a thorough scraping and sanding are needed to get rid of loose material and feather in uneven areas.
- • Features: Even with a simple shape and short run of stairs, there are a lot of details that can elevate the difficulty of a deck painting job. On this one, turned baluster railings and lattice skirting make for some tedious detail work.
- • Finish: Covering an old paint finish with new paint makes this part of the job straightforward, but it’s still a good idea to plan on at least one coat of primer and two coats of paint.
Find a Deck Painting Contractor Near You
If you’re ready to find a good painter to take care of your deck project, submit a work request for deck painting in your area. All our pros have been background checked and our in-house staff has verified their credentials and insurance coverage. Hiring a trusted pro with Pro Referral will give you the assurance the job will be done right, every step of the way.