Can You Paint Composite Decking: Here’s What to Do

You’ve had your decking a while perhaps, and now you want to look at refreshing the whole look of it. Naturally, the first and obvious choice we all look to is paint. But can you paint composite decking?

And if you can paint your decking, what would you need to do? And what are all the rules around it?

Well, we’ve been installing and working with decking for years all over South Africa, so we know how this works. And in this article, I’m going to answer all the questions about when you should and shouldn’t paint your deck, and how to prepare. In a later article, we’ll tackle the actual painting part and the aftercare.

Here’s the quick answer, then we’ll get into more of the details...


Can you paint Composite Decking?

Both new and vintage composite decking can be painted. As long as it is made from a combination of wood fibres, and plastic. Use a suitable deck cleaning product and specialist paint. Carry out the task in dry weather. Allow at least 2 hours for drying, but ideally 24 hours.

Well, that’s the quick answer, but before we continue, one question you need to weigh up is whether your composite decking is worth the cost of repainting ...when it might be better to replace the decking completely. Especially with the new colours available these days.

But if you’re determined to paint your decking - old or new, then let’s go through what you need to do...


Can you paint a new composite decking right away?

Painting old decking can give it a new lease of life, but painting new decking is often a result of not being happy with the colour you chose to begin with. That’s understandable, often until things are fully in place, it can be hard to see the finished results in your mind.

Ideally, before going ahead, you might want to get some inspiration on what colour and style to choose from the gallery of our previous projects.

Or, come and talk to us to get an idea of what will work in your space. We install composite decking in many areas of South Africa. Of course, it might be late for us to talk of getting inspiration ...once the decking is already installed! So let’s take a look at painting a new decking, first whether you can paint it straight away, and then other reasons why.

How soon you can paint decking?

Unless you really don’t like your new decking, our recommendation would be to wait a short while before looking to repaint your decking. Often decking can grow on you and it just takes a bit of getting used to.

If that doesn’t work, then at least you gave it a chance, and at that point, you can consider repainting. You can paint new composite decking even straight after installation, here are some other common reasons why you might want to paint your composite decking at any point in time.

Why you might need to paint composite decking

The paint on composite decking is less about protection, as the material itself - even witho0ut paint - is very hardwearing. The paint is more about design and decor.

So when it comes to the look of your decking you can indeed change it. Here are the full reasons why you might want to repaint your decking, and why...

  • You didn’t like the look of the decking after installation and want to change its colour. It’s a good idea to consult with your decking company to get ideas around what works in your space, or how you can modify the space to match the current colour of your decking.
  • You may have used your composite decking for many years and decided it needs a refresh and a change of look, perhaps to match new garden designs.
  • Possibly over years of use, the decking has become scratched and is starting to look worn and old.
  • Potential other influences such as decay from dirt and leaves may create a mottled and/or darker effect on the paint.
  • Pollen can attract mould, which then spreads across your decking. Removing the mould can be done, but this can result in a less attractive paint effect on the decking.
  • Over time the colour of your composite decking might fade due to exposure to Ultra Violet light and its bleaching effect.

How to prepare your composite decking for painting (Easy steps)

It’s not a major task to repaint your composite decking, it just takes some preparation and planning, and the right materials. Here are the simple steps you need to take to paint your composite decking...

Step 1. Remove all furniture and other items from the decking

We’ve all been there where you try to work around existing items in a room or space. Be thorough, and remove all objects from the decking before starting, and ensure they won’t get in the way while working around the decking

Step 2. Cover and protect any non-moveable items on the decking

This could include items such as built-in planters that are of a different design, material, or colour. Pipes or guttering that may need masking, and any metal fittings or decorative items.

Step 3. Clean the surface thoroughly

A very important step, any debris might mean the paint will not take, so remove all debris, dirt, mould and mildew from the decking. Scrub thoroughly where you need to and allow sufficient time for it to dry out. Use a specialist product to clean your decking, we highly recommend Timberlife Compowash for the best cleaning results.

Step 4. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry

Whichever cleaning product you choose, be sure to carefully follow any manufacturer instructions.

Step 5: Ready your paint and begin

You’re now ready to begin applying the paint. Again ensure you follow all the instructions on the tin and apply even coats as directed.

Step 6. Once dry, apply weatherproofing stain and sealer

Be sure not to touch or walk on the decking while drying. Even if you think it’s dry there may still be areas that are sticky to the touch. Once it’s dry, apply a stain and sealer that protects against UV light to prevent fading, and even better if it contains mildewcides, zinc particles and/or inhibitors. Using the correct applicator, apply evenly.

Step 7. Repeat any processes as necessary

Where stated on the materials, apply the correct number of coats and processes where required. Following the instructions closely takes the thinking out of it, and ensures the best results.

Step 8. Enjoy your new decking colour for years to come

Your hard work is done, your new colour is applied, return the items to your decking and enjoy!

A note about Timberlife Compowash

Soap and water may not be enough, and quite honestly, it’s just not worth ruining your new decking colour due to poor preparation.

Whether repainting your decking or not, it’s still a good idea to always keep a bottle of Composite wood decking in your supplies. It’s water-based, with disinfectant, and will control mould and mildew from building up. It’s specially formulated exactly for wood-plastic composite decking and provides the best results.

CompoWash has been specifically developed for cleaning wood-plastic composite products and effectively removes dirt and most surface stains. It makes cleaning your decking easy - at any time! When it comes to the painting part, you might need some clarification on where to clean and paint, so let’s get you a quick answer on that...

Which areas to clean and paint?

Yes, when painting your decking, you can and should paint all visible and non-visible areas that are open to the elements. This includes the ends of the composite decking. You do not need to paint underneath unless it will be seen. Clean and prepare these areas when you prepare the main portion of the decking

So now you have a new decking colour, you will want to keep it clean...

Keep your decking clean

Rewash your composite decking on a seasonal basis where possible, to both continually protect it and keep it looking fresh and new. Reapply a maintenance coat of stain once a year or as necessary.

More Composite Decking help

We hope this has provided a guide to painting composite decking. If you’re simply tired of your decking, then sometimes it’s better simply to refresh it completely. So wherever you are in South Africa, come and talk to us about how we can help.

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