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Preparing Your Deck or Fence for Painting or Staining

A Step-by-Step Guide

Hey there, DIY enthusiasts and B.R.A.G. Contracting customers! If you’re looking to give your wood deck or fence a fresh new look and protect it from the elements, painting or staining is a fantastic option. But before you start applying that beautiful coat of color, it’s crucial to properly prepare the surface. A well-prepared deck or fence will ensure a smooth and long-lasting finish. So, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to get your project started!

Clean the Surface

Begin by thoroughly cleaning the deck or fence to remove dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and any previous finishes. Use a pressure washer or a hose with a high-pressure nozzle to blast away stubborn dirt and debris. If you encounter mold or mildew, consider using a solution of water and bleach (1:3 ratio) to clean the surface thoroughly. Scrub the areas with a stiff brush, and don’t forget to rinse thoroughly.

Repair and Replace

Inspect the deck or fence for any damages, such as loose boards, splinters, or nails popping out. Address these issues by reattaching loose boards, sanding down splinters, and hammering in any protruding nails. If you find severely damaged or rotten sections, consider replacing them for a stable surface.


Sanding is essential for achieving a smooth and even surface, especially if your deck or fence has rough or weathered wood. Use a belt sander or a handheld sanding block to sand the entire surface along the grain. The goal is to remove any remaining old finish and to smooth out imperfections. Finish with a fine-grit sandpaper for a polished touch.

Clear the Area

Before applying any paint or stain, remove all furniture, plants, and other objects from the deck or fence area. This ensures they won’t interfere with the application process and protects them from accidental splatters or spills.

Apply a Wood Brightener (optional)

If your deck or fence has turned gray or has dark stains from prolonged sun exposure, you may consider using a wood brightener. This product will restore the natural color of the wood and enhance the overall appearance.

Protect Surrounding Areas

Cover any nearby plants, siding, or other surfaces you don’t want to be painted or stained. Use drop cloths, plastic sheets, or painter’s tape to shield these areas from potential overspray or accidental drips.

Test the Paint or Stain

Before covering the entire surface, it’s a good idea to test the paint or stain in a small, inconspicuous area. This allows you to see how it interacts with the wood and make any adjustments if needed.

Start Painting or Staining

Once the surface is completely dry, it’s time to apply the paint or stain. Use a brush, roller, or sprayer, depending on your preference and the size of the surface. Work methodically, starting from one end and moving to the other, ensuring even coverage and avoiding lap marks.

Allow Drying Time

Let the first coat dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying any additional coats. Usually, a second coat is recommended for more durability and a richer finish.

Enjoy Your Refreshed Deck or Fence

Once the paint or stain is completely dry, put back the furniture and enjoy your newly refreshed deck or fence! Regular maintenance and periodic reapplication will help extend the life of your painted or stained surface, so make it a part of your home maintenance routine.

Remember, proper preparation is the key to a successful painting or staining project. By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to transforming your outdoor space and protecting it for years to come.

If while preparing your deck or fence for painting you discover the structure needs repair, call B.R.A.G. Contracting for a free quote.