My deck appears to have been painted with just a single layer of paint, which is now peeling off. I like the look of the paint (when it's in better condition, of course), and am uninterested in staining, especially because I'll be adding some new balusters which may not necessarily match the existing wood. I'd like to clean, prime, and repaint the entire deck, and have a few questions:

  • Do I need to actually strip the existing paint? Or can I just follow this cleaning method (power wash, scrub with bleach/water/TSP)?
  • Because I don't particularly care about the discoloration of the underlying wood, is the above-mentioned chemical cleaning necessary? Or can I just pressure wash, wait to dry, then start priming?
  • Should I prime/paint/stain the underside of the deck? While I want paint on the top, I'd be okay with staining the underside, if necessary.
  • What kind of primer/paint should I use? This deck is in Illinois and experiences hot summers, cold winters, and plenty of moisture.

peeling paint underside of deck

  • 1
    if you have any rotten board this is a nice time to find and replace them Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 23:24
  • Actually this is more of a comment to the remarks about sanding the deck. Deck wood is very porous and grainy so if you spot sand here and there the sanded (not smooth) spots will be HIGHLY noticeable. Not only will the texture look and feel different but it will take stain differently. IDK why experienced professionals are saying to sand.
    – Teri Jo
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


Painting a pressure treated wood deck is always tricky. Pressure treated wood does not seem to hold paint well, even with a good primer. Stain is usually a better alternative, but since your deck already has paint, it would have to be stripped completely before using stain.

In order for the paint to stick fairly well, the surface needs to be as clean and dry as possible. Looking at your pictures, I see a fair amount of algae in the grain of the wood. This is a very normal condition. You should however, use the pressure washer and bleach/water/TSP shrub down method to clean it up. I'd wait until April or May when temps are up in the 60's to 70's to help dry the deck and open the grain.

Select a high grip primer rather than a stain blocking type. Many manufactures have come out with new formulas that are designed to bond better. When you apply the primer, don't rush. Simply rolling on primer too quickly is not good. The primer needs to be brushed into the grain as deeply as possible. Let it dry completely. Now you can apply your deck paint as normal.

  • 2
    Is there any benefit to be had from staining or painting the underside of this deck? (BTW Shirlock: I'm a big fan. Your appearance on the the SE Podcast was great.)
    – Kevin L.
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 16:07
  • 2
    Thanks Kevin. (blush blush). To be honest, with PT, staining the bottoms will buy a little more longevity, but probably not substantially so. the rot is going to appear where there is wood to wood contact that harbors moisture, places where you can't now get any stain in. I personally wouldn't wast my time and money treating the underside. Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 23:11
  • PS, upvote for being a "fan". lol Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 23:12

I fought with degradation of stain every year. When I painted the entire board, sealed it, I gained an extra year before the moisture compromised it.

  • Please give the original poster some more information that helps to answer the question
    – milesmeow
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 16:12

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