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Can Cedar Decking Be Painted?

Cedar is an absolutely stunning softwood that is best known for its naturally beautiful appearance. This is part of the reason why it is one of the most common types of wood used for decking, along with many other outdoor structures.

But what if you want to give your cedar decking a new look? Can cedar decking be painted? And if so, what is the right way to paint cedar decking?

Yes - you can paint your cedar decking with ease. While most homeowners prefer the natural aesthetic that cedar provides, maybe you want it to match other elements of your home. Or, perhaps your cedar is worn and you want to breathe new life into it with a fresh coat of paint. Whatever the case, we’ll teach you what you should consider before pulling the trigger and whipping out your paint brush. Then, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to paint your cedar deck.

Can Cedar Decking Be Painted?

Yes - red cedar decking can be painted. In fact, it is a great substrate for paint. Painting cedar decking is a great idea if it has become gray with age–or if you simply want to give your deck a makeover.

Although we prefer the natural look of this stunning wood, painting cedar decking is possible. But first, there are a few factors that you have to consider.

What Factors Must Be Considered Before Painting Cedar Decking?

Before you grab your brush and start painting away, let’s take a look at some important factors you need to consider:

The Age of Your Deck

Does cedar need to be treated? Not necessarily. Untreated cedar decking can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years with proper maintenance. But when treatment (e.g. waterproofing) is applied, cedar decking can last even longer.

As the wood ages, however, cedar turns silvery gray. The change can start anywhere from 2 months to a year after installing your decking.

You should wait until your deck starts turning gray before you paint over it. This way, you can enjoy its natural color for as long as possible. In the right conditions, you can have up to a year of natural cedar beauty before the need to paint over it becomes greater.

The Color of Your Paint

Can cedar decking be painted? Absolutely. You know that now. But, can you choose just any color? Sort of. Keep in mind that cedar contains a high amount of tanning. Without proper priming, tanning can bleed through light-colored paints and cause brown or yellow stains.

So, if you’re painting your cedar decking white or any other light color, be sure to apply an oil-based acrylic primer first.

The Type of Paint to Use

The best type of paint to use for cedar decking is acrylic. Aside from looking great, acrylic-based paint provides an additional layer of protection between your deck and the elements. It can make your decking even more resistant to moisture, rot, and even mildew.

More than that, acrylic-based paint adheres strongly to natural wood. As a result, there is a lower risk of it peeling, chipping, or flaking over time.

Painting Cedar Decking: Step By Step Guide

Now that you know what factors to consider before painting your cedar decking, let’s move on to how to paint your cedar decking the right way. First, here are the things you’ll need:

  • Cleaning brush

  • Cleaning solution

  • Hose

  • Paint scraper or sander

  • Oil primer

  • Acrylic-based paint

  • Paintbrush, paint roller, paint tray

  • Tarp

  • Painter’s tape

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, follow this step by step guide on how to paint cedar decking:

Step 1: Clean Your Deck

Before anything else, you must remove as much dirt, mildew, and debris as possible from your deck. Use an appropriate cleaning solution (we recommend oxygenated bleach with water) and a non-abrasive tool to scrub away the grime.

Then, wash the soap and dirt away with water. Do not use a power washer; it can damage your wood because of the high pressure. A garden hose will do.

Afterward, let your deck dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Here’s a complete guide on how to clean cedar decking for your reference.

Step 2: Sand or Scrape The Surface

If there is existing paint on your cedar decking, remove it by using a paint scraper. If there are raised pieces of wood on your deck (a.k.a. splinter hazards), sand them away with 180-grit sandpaper.

Step 3: Apply Primer

Primer will help paint adhere better to your cedar decking. It will also increase the paint’s durability and provide an extra layer of protection for your deck. Moreover, primer prevents the tannins (tree sap) from seeping through the paint. We recommend using oil-based acrylic primer for acrylic-based paint. It promotes superior adhesion compared to other types of primer and is also fast-drying.

Apply the first coat of primer until the entire deck is coated. Be careful not to make drip marks or extra lumpy spots. Wait for it to dry completely before applying your paint (this usually takes around 8 hours, depending on the weather). Alternatively, you can apply another layer of primer if necessary.

Step 4: Paint Your Cedar Decking

Once the primer is dry, it’s time to start painting. Use a paint roller to cover the largest portions of your cedar decking efficiently. But since cedar is porous, it usually takes a lot of paint to saturate the wood. So, use only small amounts of paint each time to better estimate how much paint you apply.

For the corners and edges of your deck, use a handheld paintbrush for more precise strokes. If there are parts of your deck that you don’t want to paint, cover the edges with painter’s tape before starting. Apply another layer of paint if necessary.

When Is The Best Time to Paint Cedar Decking?

The results of your paint job will largely depend on how well it dries, and the weather plays a big part in it. Painting when it’s too hot can cause your paint to dry too fast, which can result in an unpleasant finish. If the weather is too cold, the paint will not be able to bond to the surface properly and will take much longer to dry.

Either way, the results can be less than desirable.

All that said, the best time to paint cedar decking is during early summer and early fall. Usually, you will get warm, dry days during these times, which will allow your paint to dry and cure properly. Once you schedule the perfect day to paint your cedar deck, wait for the temperature to fall between 40°- 90° F before you start painting. Also, remember to look out for forecasts of rain before you start your paint job. If it rains mid-project, you will likely have to start over, leading to a lot of paint wasted and a very frustrated you!

Can Cedar Decking Be Painted? Final Thoughts

Maybe you don’t like the old, rustic look of your weathered cedar. Or maybe you just want your deck to match the color of your house. Whatever the reason may be, you can definitely paint cedar decking and give it a whole new look.

To achieve the best results, wait for the perfect time of year to paint, and don’t forget to use a primer. More than that, we recommend using high-quality acrylic-based paint for a smooth, vibrant-looking finish.

But if you want a whole new deck altogether, buy cedar wholesale from the best red cedar lumber supplier–G&B Quality Cedar Products! Here, you won’t have to sacrifice quality for price–we offer high-quality cedar for reasonable prices, especially when you buy in bulk! And because we grade our lumber by hand ourselves, you never have to worry about the specific boards you get. If we wouldn’t use them ourselves, we filter them out - nothing but the best for our clients. Experience the G&B difference yourself!


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