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Painting A Deck With The Half-Ass Handyman

Updated on December 6, 2018
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I'm married with two daughters living in residential Indiana. I want to share all I've learned to maybe save you some future headaches.

How Many Times Can You Attempt To Shortcut The Process?

I love taking shortcuts when it comes to working on home improvement projects. Now, don't get me wrong, I'll never take a shortcut that will endanger my family or the hurt the integrity of the structure. For a shortcut to work right, it still has to stand over time. That being said, not all shortcuts are created equal. Some don't work right away and you end up taking more time pursuing a shortcut when it would've been faster for you to do it the right way the first time. There's nothing more frustrating than being wrong. I guess watching all those Wile E. Coyote cartoons didn't really sink in as a kid. (Cut to me slamming into a mountain tied to a rocket.)

As you can see, there are three tiers to our desk.
As you can see, there are three tiers to our desk.

What I Used:

1) Paint Roller (duh)

2) Paint Tray (double duh)

3) Paint Brush (Purdy was a good choice)

4) Green Works Electric Power Sprayer 1600 PSI

5) Wagner DeckMate

6) Olympic Deck Cleaner

7) Dutch Boy Porch and Floor Paint

1st Attempt

First of all, I waited too long. I should've started the project a year sooner, when signs were obvious. But my deck is kind of big with it's three tiers, so I kept putting it off. First I sprayed the deck with the Olympic Deck cleaner. This advice was given to me by a friend. Funny how deck owners learn you're painting a deck and how quickly they give you tips.

After applying cleaner, I power washed the deck and I noticed some paint was flaking up, but I left it alone. This was my second mistake after waiting too long. I'll explain more later. The combination of deck cleaner and power washing got rid of the dirt and mold just fine.

Next I decided to paint with the Wagner Deck. Another advice from another friend. This thing was worthless. Paint poured out at a rapid and rate and I ended up spending more stopping and pouring paint in it. I finally gave up after a couple hours and just decided to use a roller and paint tray. This was much faster.

When I was finally done painting the surface, I was done painting, so I made the executive decision to be finished with the project. I decided not to paint the benches, railings, underneath or spindles. But as you already know, I was not done.

You really don't need either of these to clean and paint your deck. Money and time wasters.
You really don't need either of these to clean and paint your deck. Money and time wasters.

2nd Attempt

Spring rolled around the next year, and I went out to power wash the deck. Much to my dismay a lot of the previous year's paint was coming up with each passing of the wand. Dangit!!!!! It was obvious to me that I wasn't done painting the deck.

I'm now two years removed from the time I should've started project and now I need to get rid of loose paint. For those who don't know, lesson #1 is you don't paint on loose paint. It only comes up since it's not adhering to anything. Duh!

Scraping the loose paint took all summer. By the time I was done it was fall season, and I was not going to paint and fight the falling leaves. Leaves are like acne. They're a pain to get rid of and their unavoidable. Eventually you have to deal with it. That being said, I just slapped a quick coat of paint on exposed wood to protect it over the winter.

You can now add "Wood Scraper" to list of items needed.

3rd Attempt

Spring rolled around again, and I am mentally prepared for the challenge. I power wash the deck again, and there was some more paint flaking but not as bad as last year. This year I decided to double coat everything. I wanted to make up for years it didn't get painted, and I wanted it to last as long as possible.

I painted the deck, benches and spindles. Pro tip: I used a small roller on as much of the spindle surface as possible. I found it was much faster than using a paint brush on the whole thing. I was still bound and determined to half-ass something so I decided not to paint the underneath parts. I rationalized the paint still looked good and it wasn't exposed to elements like sides and tops.

Pro Tip #1

Use a roller on as much spindle surface as possible to speed up painting.

Look at all those spindles.
Look at all those spindles.

Pro Tip #2

For God's sake don't put a lot of spindles on your deck if you can help it!


When it's all said and done, there really aren't a lot of shortcuts you can take when painting the deck. The elements will eventually catch up to you. My future half-ass approach will be to take next year off and then do a section a year and rotate every year. This strategy should significantly cut down on time spent painting my deck.

© 2018 Jeff Huser


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